AppZen on Tour is back! Coming to a city near you.

Shaping the Future of Finance with Generative AI


AI in your AP inbox? 6 important questions to ask

by AppZen December 15, 2023

Is your AP inbox overwhelmed?

Demand is growing for finance solutions that use artificial intelligence to handle the everyday manual tasks in accounts payable. Our latest survey insights confirmed our suspicions: our customers would love to hand off their overloaded AP inboxes to a capable, sophisticated AI.

We’ve been in the finance AI game for nearly a decade. In that time, we’ve seen thought leadership organizations like Gartner try to persuade companies to embrace AI as part of their digital transformation initiatives. Now, as generative AI sweeps through the finance sector, accounts payable teams are looking to apply its benefits to email management. How can they implement smooth, efficient change management around these new technologies?

Generative AI and change management

For some of our customers, managing the daily frustration of emailed invoices and other documents has reached a fever pitch. Query management solutions have only taken them so far. Digital transformation, generative AI, and change management are all hot-topic conversations within accounts payable teams. So, what should you look for when exploring the wide range of AI solutions flooding the accounts payable space? How do you find the best AI-enabled query management solutions to meet your company’s needs? 

6 key criteria for evaluating AI tools for your AP inbox

Here are some important questions to ask of any potential solution provider.

Is it compatible with our existing technology?

Any query management tool you use should meet you where you spend a third of your workday: in your AP email inbox. It must be able to handle supplier queries and have the ability to read and understand finance language. It should be able to handle common document formats and update its understanding as these evolve. It should sort and categorize the most important emails for you. And it should integrate easily with your existing tech stack with as little IT involvement as possible.

What is the change management impact?

No change happens in a vacuum. Every person and process within a team will be impacted in some way by the transition to a new tool, no matter how amazing the technology is. Implementation should be as smooth as possible, with training, expert customer service, and a minimal need for IT involvement. Any new system should simplify change management by continuously refining its algorithms based on your needs and feedback.

Can it eliminate communication overload?

AP teams spend as much as one whole day a week reading and sorting emails, gathering data, and responding, sometimes from multiple inboxes. You need to eliminate this multi-screen overload. Ask whether the AI can surface the most important emails for you. It should also be able to fetch the relevant data from your EMS to answer vendor queries. Using generative AI, it should be able to draft responses for you, which you can then review and send.

How fast, accurate, and adaptable is it? 

Faster operations and greater accuracy define the best AI tools. If autonomous finance is your goal, ask whether AP emails and invoices will be handled automatically, with little or no involvement from you. Does the tool excel at independently identifying risks and duplicates as soon as an invoice arrives in your AP inbox? Can the solution learn from your feedback and from successfully processed invoices? How quickly can it complete these different tasks and what is its margin of error? Can you customize it to meet your unique business needs?

How secure is my data? 

There are a number of new rules and frameworks being developed for AI, in the U.S., the E.U., and globally. Secure AI helps IT teams do their job to enable the best business technologies. Ask for a breakdown of the solution’s security measures. It should comply with standards such as ISO 27001, SOC2, and regional data protection requirements. Connections to your AP inbox should always use the most secure API protocols. Tools using generative AI should guarantee no personally identifiable information (PII) is ever compromised.

How does the AI avoid bias and unethical behavior?

As AI continues to permeate the financial sector, avoiding bias in communication and data processing is vital. A trustworthy AI solution should demonstrate its commitment to eliminating biases, particularly when drafting emails. It should be built on ethical principles and constructed using ethically sourced components. If your organization has an AI Governance Committee, you may want to consider including them in the conversation.

Is this too much to ask of one AI tool?

It’s perfectly reasonable to expect any new technology to offer your team the best possible value. You don’t want to set your team up for a painful and expensive rip-and-replace scenario a year after implementation. These questions should help you find the right solution. Autonomous finance, done right, should meet you where you are–in this case, in your AP email inbox.

We encourage you to compare AppZen Inbox to other AI-enabled email management tools for AP teams. Built to meet the needs of back-office finance operations, it uses the power of generative AI to review, classify, process, and help you respond to suppliers’ invoices and inquiries. Contact us today to ask your most important questions and try AppZen Inbox for yourself.