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

Making the best use of data in Accounts Payable Software

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Oct 3, 2017 12:16:54 PM

Best Accounts Payable Software Makes Big Data Meaningful

It’s all Greek to me.

We’ve all heard this adage in one context or another.

In the day and age of big data however, this is not necessarily a good thing and for too many businesses, their data is unfortunately all Greek to them.  With that said, there are many savvy and intrepid businesses that are maximizing the raw power of their data to achieve enhanced business outcomes.  That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with Accounts Payable software?

We’re glad you asked!

We’re going to look at a few different scenarios as it pertains to this question over the next week or so, and in the first example we want to share with you a client win who was able to leverage cloud based accounts payable software deployment to achieve multiple things.  In this instance the client was a large consumer packaged goods maker who had multiple, disparate accounting and inventory system that presented a major challenge to integration and data aggregation.

Here are the main take-aways from their experience with cloud based account payable software:

  1. They were able to streamline their frenetic and highly seasonal approach to invoice processing to be something that was streamlined and scalable.  Where they used to have to augment staff heavily to meet the demands of their yearly peaks, they now possess the ability to scale and adjust through the automation afforded to them with accounts payable software.
  2. They were able to make their data meaningful.  This is probably the key to the entire post today in that data is entirely useless unless you can digest and interpret it.  For many businesses, especially as it relates to AP invoice processing, there is little to no data analysis and certainly less intentional action around invoices.  For too many business the raison d’etre for AP is simply pay the bill when it come in.  This is a major disservice to the strategic function of AP and ultimately will cost said organization lots of dollars through blown opportunities by way of missed discounts and tacked on penalties.  We believe the best way to make data meaningful from the steady stream of invoices that pour in is by utilizing a tool like advanced OCR technology to extract all the data from an invoice and then run it through a logic based automation tool that looks for and identifies key data sets...invoice number, vendor name, due dates, terms, line items, totals, tax, freight, etc.  All of this can then be used for later analysis and action.
  3. They were able to assemble a data warehouse where their legacy system was unable to.  This is partly due to the flexibility of cloud based accounts payable software and the implications that most cloud technology has over fixed, static, legacy systems, but in this case, the client was actually able to establish vendor contract data in the cloud based upon the stream of invoices that was pouring in.  Granted one of the assumptions that was made and accepted by the client was that there was a certain good faith element to accepting the customer pricing as listed on the invoice.  However, by implementing logic controls around price / item / and location variance, the client was able to triage invoices that underwent any kind of a price augmentation above a standard, pre-defined acceptable change threshold.  Where there legacy system was incapable of providing, clean, dynamic data, by housing this data in a new cloud based system, they were able to transform their insights and reporting to achieve never before seen clarity within their process and which ultimately ended up with enhanced vendor management and optimized financial outcomes in terms of payment. Beyond this they were able to monetize their payments through virtual Mastercard payments and make AP a profit center!

If this means something to you don’t let your process or lack of quality data hold you hostage any longer! Check out the eBook below or give us a shout and see if we can help you transform your accounts payable process!

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

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, accounts payable software, virtual mastercard, data

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

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