Sometimes it’s nice to go to your happy place.
At least that worked for Happy Gilmore when he needed to ice the championship winning putt. Perhaps it’s a coping strategy that in theory works, and for many would-be Accounts Payable automation fans, their happy place might as well be Shangri-La . It’s not that it’s just too much to imagine a place of peace, harmony, and beauty set in some mountainous paradise, but it’s more that for so many businesses that have a desire to get to an advanced state of automation there are just so many obstacles on the path to improvement that hopes get dashed on the rocks along the way. So, one question we ponder from time to time is the above...is Accounts Payable software for the masses going to be a reality?
The Beginning of Wisdom is the Definition of Terms
If we’re strictly talking about Accounts Payable software or apps that empower one to quickly book AP expenses or receipts and categorize them with ease, then yes, that is readily available in the market. There are some great apps that hook right into broadly based systems like Quickbooks that can turn you into an AP ninja even if you’re a general contractor by trade and have a truck cab that looks like something out of the Hoarders TV show. In all seriousness there are a slew of companies that have made capturing expense information super easy and inexpensive. However, not all products are equal and certainly not all are built for competitive play. Another way of putting is that there are some nifty apps that will work great if you’re a mom and pop type business or a sole proprietor, but as soon as you get into transactions where you’re pushing hundreds of invoices a month or into the low thousands, you’ll outstrip the capacity of some of the apps toot sweet. There’s a decent list of said apps here by the way:
However, another key thing to understand that Accounts Payable software can mean so many things to so many people. For some it’s automated expense booking via mobile app. It could also mean technology leveraging some kind of workflow capability to integrate approval processes and better get a handle on how expenses are coded. For others still it could be Accounts Payable software is more oriented around the goal of achieving gains in the simplicity and speed of payments themselves and thus it could be epayments centric. For others AP software may more meaningfully address issues on the procurement side of the equation. Whatever the case not all AP software suites offer the same feature sets and certainly address disparate issues in the Accounts Payable life cycle.
Establishing a Wide Scoped View
Steven Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind, and if improving the cycle of how invoices comes into your organization, moves through it, and then executes payments, it’s important to identify the issues that you need to solve for prior to vetting your provider and certainly before deployment, unless you want to have a travesty for an implementation story.
From our perspective, we think the best approach to automating invoice processing is one oriented around the least amount of impact to your supplier base. Where e-invoicing offers tremendous advantage, it’s one hinged on the necessity of forcing your suppliers to switch up their workflow, which few will be likely to do unless through some sort of governmental mandate. Given the ferocity of the nature of our independence, I doubt that will be likely anytime soon. So, the approach with the least impediments seems to be oriented around a traditional AP automation approach albeit with a cloud-delivery model so clients don’t have to incur additional hardware management costs. This provides a plethora of competitive advantages to the process while being achievable, scalable, and affordable. Finally, from an ePayments perspective, looking at Accounts Payable software to automate and prioritize payment execution based upon vendor preferences is a great way to achieve both operational and monetary value in your business. In this one area you can leverage your capital to earn you money which is always a win especially in a function that is typically a quagmire of costs.
If you want to find some other great ways to create a winning AP function and process check out the e-book below!