CloudX Blog

Exploring Where Accounts Payable Software & ePayments Meet For SMBs

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Dec 15, 2017 2:46:48 PM

prison mike.jpg

You know why they call me Prison Mike?

SMB’s can hardly be categorized “da belle of da ball” in the now famous Michael Scott, aka “Prison Mike” vernacular.  While they may have a bridesmaid and not the bride type rap, SMBs (small and medium businesses) make up nearly 97.9% of the United States’ 5.83 Million employer firms.  That is nothing to bat an eye at and until now has represented one of the last frontiers that is primed for process automation.

There are a variety of ways that automation is happening to the financial back office of the small business, whether you look at banking apps that simplify how checks get processed through mobile capture and manual indexing to things like accounting systems in the cloud that sync with your credit card provider to eliminate subsequent journal entries.

Some of the other, harder to reach areas include things that big corporates have been tackling for a while...invoice processing automation, epayments, and the like.  The intersection of these technologies, especially now through cloud based delivery methodologies essentially means a world of possibilities for small business leaders.  Not only can their processes be improved and transformed so they are virtually hands free and so that they have complete visibility, but they can literally be engineered to make their businesses make money.  This is no longer the realm of the big corporate only because cloud-based delivery has upended the traditional install based deployment model and paved the way for businesses of all shapes and sizes to follow in their footsteps.

With the expansion of repeatable integrations to key core SMB platforms like Quickbooks, Xero, Sage and such, moving data in and out is no longer a boondoggle and when we’re talking about automating how transactions get logged into a system that is otherwise reliant on manual entry, data manipulation and release is EVERYTHING.

Three Key Benefits to SMB’s Exploring Accounts Payable Software and ePayments

  1. Wave bye bye to data entry! - Through mobile (or desktop or MFP or email) capture, you’ll never have to enter another invoice into your accounting software.  Invoices and relevant documents get sucked into a capture process and enter your accounting software instance as if you had done the work.  Whether you want them be auto approved (assuming no GL coding is required and they match at a line level to open POs) you can shift gears to straight-through processing.  Gains in this area from a productivity standpoint are upwards of 80% to a manual process.
  2. Say hello to always knowing where your invoices are and what their status is! - This is a little thing called visibility and is kind of like a blind person receiving their sight.  If you don’t have sight, it can be difficult to imagine just how powerful seeing really is, but it is that profound.  Through a system integrated to your accounting software you can call up each and every invoice and understand every processing touchpoint, decision, payment name it, and never lose another invoice or miss a payment. POWERFUL!
  3. Count your blessings...and your benjamins! - This really pertains to those who would have the foresight to take automation all the way and get into payment optimization.  Through a simple epayments strategy tapping both virtual credit cards and ACH transactions you can divest yourself of approximately 50% of your check payments (maybe more).  Again, you save time, speed up the process, enhance controls, introduce visibility, and create a cash rebate flow back into your business fully flipping your back office cost center into a profit center.

If this seems too good to be true, well believe it.  We’ve seen numerous clients fully automate their process and enjoy the financial and operational benefits to automation and you can see that here!

Download The Four Keys To Maximizing The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable

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Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, Invoice Processing, smb

Best Accounts Payable Software for 2017 and beyond?

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Sep 28, 2017 1:46:45 PM

Best Accounts Payable Software 2017

Let's take a trip down memory lane

So a while back we wrote up a similar post, but the time is night to revisit given time and change.  With respect to the landscape changes for AP no real seismic events have influenced the market from the need to automate manual processes, but the growth of electronic payments adds an interesting dynamic to the value creation component of a solid Accounts Payable process.

Therefore, we want to take a look at accounts payable software as we head to Q4 in 2017 and look toward the future.  

Certainly the promise of automation is looming large.  Now more than ever, there is a buzz in the tech community about the advent of artificial intelligence and its role in our future.  This question is interesting specifically in accounts payable automation and has been at play in many deployments of accounts payable software to date, especially as a machine learning approach to data extraction.  However, in the future things may be altogether different as AI could potentially be used to manage exception processing, handle vendor inquiries, and address a variety of other functions that we currently do manually.

With respect to the core set of approaches to improving the payables space we’re still presented with several key iterations that one must evaluate and choose from,


The shortlist:

Electronic Data Interchange - Otherwise known as EDI, this is the gold standard for bi-directional communication between vendors and customers.  While data transmission and transactions are dynamic, it’s cost prohibitive for smaller companies to deploy and tends to be best suited for organizations with massive transactional volume or high volume repeat transactions.  

E-Invoicing - The darling approach of many EU countries, e-Invoicing converts the process to an entirely electronic effort whereby an order from a customer can invoke a PO and the correlating invoice for a closed loop transaction that is essentially all digital.  While very efficient, adoption barriers abound in terms of getting suppliers set up as the lynchpin to this strategy is getting them on board.  While there are numerous benefits, the cost and time associated with driving suppliers to this method is a challenge.  It has not taken in America as many advocates of it have wished, largely due to the fact that America is much more ‘wild west’ and doesn’t have the governmental mandates driving the adoption that have made it more successful in Europe and other parts of the world.

Accounts Payable Automation - This is typically a blend of various accounts payable software components to include OCR, workflow, document management, and integration to back end systems.  This has been traditionally done on premises, though a marked shift to cloud based approaches is underway as the cost and delivery models are both less expensive and faster.  This also offers the least resistance from suppliers because they are largely not required to change anything of how they are currently conducting business with their customers.

The big BANG

While any of these approaches boasts advantages over traditional manual accounts payable processing, one item that is becoming an increasingly vital component of accounts payable software is the pressing need for integrated ePayments.

ePayments, whether ACH, wire, or virtual card offers the customer the opportunity to both enhance security and controls within their payment stream and presents the unique scenario whereby the payment stream can be monetized and AP can be converted from a straight data processor to an organizational value creator.  Literally speaking, accounts payable can be made into a profit center, where this was not a possibility even a few years ago.

While we have an obvious bent towards one of the specific models above, it is absolute must to evaluate the value of your payment stream since that represents an immediate and tangible opportunity to drive monetary value back into your business, which can serve as a springboard to implementing the automation system of your choosing if you take the transformation wall to wall.

Please check out the ebook below to take a deeper look at the comparisons between AP Automation and E-Invoicing!

Free eBook on AP Automation vs E-Invoicing:  What's Right For My Business?

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Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, epayments

The Virtues and Perils of Going It Alone Without Accounts Payable Software

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Aug 23, 2017 12:10:47 PM

Belichick and Brady believe in the power of accounts payable software to win championships!

The Myth of Overnight Success

You know all too often we look to one hit wonders and overnight successes as the model of greatness that many people aspire to, but few will ever achieve.  When we assess what someone else has done that is novel or noteworthy, we sometimes get the deer in the headlights effect where we fail to realize the preparation that’s happened prior and off-scene to enable that person to achieve whatever they have done.  I suppose if we stepped back and hit the rewind on the scene we’d see something truly remarkable...someone committed to a almost sacred trust oriented towards consistent effort and improvement in the pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

To fall in love with the process of betterment is a difficult thing to do, but if it can be embraced the results can be quite astounding, and it’s no different in Accounts Payable, albeit somewhat less glorious.

Consider Bill Belichick’s commentary on his protege, but now proven QB, Tom Brady...Belichick said this off him, “ not all about talent, it’s about dependability, consistency, being coachable, and understanding what you need to do to improve.”  He essentially was pointing out that Brady is not the greatest physical specimen of a QB and that everything he’s achieved, 7 NFL Superbowl appearances, and a whopping 5 Superbowl Championships, has been attributable to his ridiculous work ethic.

If we could glean that little nugget of a soul fully invested and applied, we’d find something of great worth I think.

As it relates to Accounts Payable, we want to take a brief look at the virtues of going it alone without the luxuries afforded through automated Accounts Payable software, and believe it or not there are some.

From a shortlist perspective, not having solid Accounts Payable software you’re forced into the reality of the following:

Hard Work - So essentially, if you’re not leveraging a machine automation approach to rip data off invoices, you will certainly be working hard because you’ll have no other choice.  You’ll be in a world governed by data entry and manual matching processes, and this can only scale on a headcount based model absent technology to level the playing field.

Honesty - However, this will keep you honest, or at least leave you busy enough that you won’t have time for much else.  In a manual invoice processing environment you certainly won’t have time for idleness, which in and of itself is meritorious.

Beyond those couple examples, we think the virtues of manual Accounts Payable are outstripped by the inconveniences and challenges that surround it.

If discretion is the better part of valor, then it would probably be wiser to employ a method to move away from manual efforts and embrace the power of automation than to continue with the vainglory that stems from going it alone and suffering through arduous process.

The downsides to manual processing if summed up might look like this:

Burnout and turnover - One of the challenges of manual Accounts Payable processing is the grind that is required to enter, match, and pay invoices.  This, combined with the fact that it is not a highly skilled trade, invariably leads to a high turnover rate within the ranks.

Lack of visibility - Again, when all data is mired in manual data entry, there is virtually no semblance of visibility to process data until the point of entry.  Essentially, when AP gets an invoice it can be processed and the data utilized, but prior to that everything is essentially a fog, and as such you don’t typically have the ability to triage an invoice through a workflow or accelerate, pause, or delegate processing to another party.

Missed Opportunities - This can lead to missed opportunities on the payment execution side.  That would include opportunities to capture early payment discounts, but for some laggard type organizations it can mean worse than that and ultimately cost them additional fees as it costs extra due to late payment fees.

Hopefully we’ve expounded enough on the merits of automation and Accounts Payable software to at least pique your interest in exploring it further.  Granted it can be a long journey, but nothing worthwhile is accomplished hastily.  Remember, going back to the foundational elements we began with...being coachable, being consistent, being dependable, and understanding what you need to do to improve...are the framework for success in any venue, accounts payable automation notwithstanding.

Download The Four Keys To Maximizing The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable

Read More

Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, Invoice Processing

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