CloudX Blog

5 Must Have Tools When Buying Accounts Payable Software

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Sep 21, 2017 10:12:08 AM

5 Must Have Tools When Buying Accounts Payable Software

Decisions Decisions



It’s hard not to like the NBC’s The Office.  Even despite the fact that the show has been off-air for several years, the hilarity of the staff and leadership interactions is an all too vivid depiction of life in a stale corporation, and brother, the struggle is real!  At least for those who have been there.  One of the best vignettes though is where Kevin, the accounting department’s third wheel is pondering his choices and racking his brain at the vending machine about his next selection because he’s unsure of what to purchase while repeating the mantra that “Chips are good...very good…”.  While choices at the vending machine may be difficult at times even for the best of us, at some point a decision has to be made, and today’s post is really to help you when making decisions about what accounts payable software you’re going to be getting.


While we go into greater detail about the models of accounts payable software deployment over here, the first thing you need to decide is whether you want it in-house or in the cloud, and if you want layered services over it or whether you want to tackle additional functions in house.  A lot of this has to do with your existing resources and budgeting and your requirements in terms of deployment from a timeline standpoint.  For example, if you are looking at getting a solution up in the next 1-2 quarters, then you’d better have some assistance in the blocking and tackling of data capture and validation, otherwise your project is going to lag, because you’ll be adding to the degree of difficulty when implementing.

 

After that decision is rendered, here’s a list of some must have tools that will enhance the value you extract from your AP automation initiative:


Dynamic Dashboards -  These should be a mandatory within all accounts payable software, though not all vendors provide this in equal proportion.  The dynamic and visible nature of the data within your process allows you to eliminate process bottlenecks and maximize process opportunities, as is the case in early payment discount capture, and making sure bills are paid prior to due dates.  Definitely a must have!


Workflow Collaboration - This provides you the ability to interact with colleagues whether your 10 feet or 10 states away.  Through online collaboration including comments / messaging, escalation, delegation, and the like, you can retain the conversation around invoice approval or rejection decisions and keep a tidy record for when the audit man comes!


Multi-way Matching - By taking the manual components of invoice matching, whether 2 or 3 way, you’ll recoup a massive amount of time for your staff and enhance the accuracy and integrity of your AP process.  If your accounts payable software can’t execute matching, it may not be built for competitive play.


Customized Business Intelligence - A solid BI stack is going to give you the ability to build all sorts of process and thresholds within your system to mimic the goings on of your process and empower you to enforce standards and controls to a new degree.  As an example if during the PO match you have a pricing discrepancy on an item or line that’s under 2%, it could be an automatic pass through, instead of requiring manual intervention.  In the event it’s higher it would kick out for triage, and these parameters would obviously be set by you based on your discretion.


Integrated ePayments - Having the ability to invoke and execute payment from within the accounts payable software where you’re matching or approving and coding invoices is just huge.  One cockpit if you will where you are driving the entirety of the invoice transaction from presentment to processing to payment is very appealing.  Eliminating toggling between systems is a massive time and aggravation saver and the fact that you can leverage this component to be a switch flipper is even better.  By that we mean that this can literally transform your process into the goose that lays the golden egg by monetizing your payment stream to create perpetual cash rebates into your business.


We hope these help you make solid decisions as you evaluate what accounts payable software is right for your process!


Check out this ebook below to learn how to extract every ounce of value from your AP process!

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

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Topics: accounts payable software, ap automation, AP Process

New Accounts Payable Process Transformation eBook from The Accounts Payable Experts at CloudX

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Mar 8, 2017 6:13:14 PM

Four Keys To Accounts Payable Process Value Maximization

 

The Four Keys To Maximizing The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable

 

What are they you say?  Unsure?  Well, we've been at this for some time and have a solid handle on the components that lead to total process transformation and peak value to your business. We invite you to read along and educate yourself. For many people the concepts of AP automation or ePayments strategy can be daunting and difficult to pull off for a variety of reasons, but that need not be the case. Additionally, we've incorporated the insights of some of the most reputable third-party industry analyst firms in our assessment in an effort to remain objective.

 

With this eBook you'll be able to see how it's possible to create unprecedented value in your financial back office and make it a sustainable and sizable contributor to the health of your business! Oh yeah, it's also possible to do this through an arbitrage approach as well. In layman's terms you can do it without shelling out massive capital investment and the hope for the best approach that beleaguers many candidates for Accounts Payable process transformation.

 

We've got a lot to say in it about the following areas:

 

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), E-Invoicing, Accounts Payable Automation

  • Dynamic and Static Process Visibility

  • Early Payment Discount Capture

  • Traditional Payments (Check) vs. ePayments (Wire, ACH, Virtual Payments) 

As always, we welcome your feedback and you can reach us at info@cloudxdpo.com with any comments or questions. Additionally we recommend you subscribe to our blog for the latest and greatest in the sphere of accounts payable process improvement and other ideas for value creation in your business.

 

To get the eBook, click the button below and enjoy!

 

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

 

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Automation, ap automation, AP Process, epayments

Beyond Accounts Payable Workflow Software

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Aug 22, 2016 1:58:37 PM

Take your accounts payable workflow software beyond!

Beyond is a funny word.


By definition it means ‘at or to the further side’ of a given object.  However, the nuance that I’d like to extract out of it today is in the essence of it being greater than or further reaching than an original state.  As a case in point, in our most recent blog post we examined three key reasons why accounts payable workflow software is an absolute must to a highly automated process.  However in today’s take, I think it’s necessary to look past just the workflow at the other components that will take your productivity and processing capacity to the upper echelons of automation standards.


So in addition to accounts payable workflow software, here are three components that you should be leveraging to juice your accounts payable process for everything it’s worth.

Business Intelligence aka ‘Rules’


Part of an effective automated accounts payable workflow software setup is the logic tree that drives the workflow forward.  In plain terms, one of the best things about an AP workflow setup is that you can auto-route invoices to approvers or even auto-GL code invoices based on a variety of triggers.  As an example, invoices from a specific vendor or sent to a specific location, can be auto-assigned in powerful AP software systems to wind up in the right person’s inbox, thereby eliminating all the extra manual touches in between receipt and final destination that beleaguer so many AP departments the world over.  Eg. Apple or VMWare invoices might be auto-routed to an IT Executive, since that is the department head responsible for liaising and approving technology vendor invoices.  The recouped time from the initial receipt and routing can mean valuable time gained in turning around invoices that are eligible for discounts and can thus be revenue generators (even in the back office, which is really cool!).


Additionally, BI can be used to auto approve invoices on a matching basis assuming the matching criteria is within a user-defined acceptability threshold.  Say on a $5,000 invoice, that a 0.5% threshold was acceptable, it would mean that the invoice could be plus / minus $25 and automatically match for payment.  By match, I mean reconcile automatically against PO or Receiving data or both.  Once the match occurs and the BI checks the math, it can trigger the invoice close in the ERP and then execute payment if you have automated payments set up.  If you don’t you should really look into it, because besides the EPD gains above, the next best way to monetize your AP process into a profit center is through ePayments!

Monetization


While this is briefly mentioned in the preceding paragraph, it really merits further consideration.  So many companies never invest strategically into their accounts payable process because they often run into the buzzsaw that is AP software sticker shock.  This is especially true for those legacy companies that provide software in a traditional install base environment.  The typical ROI period for those scenarios can range from anywhere between 12 and 24 months, but as we know, more demanding finance leaders want returns now not later.  As such, a cloud or SaaS provider gives more flexibility when leaning upon a transactional costing model, and typically has lower start up fees.  Now, with all of that as a backdrop there is an obvious and genuine desire for fiscal stewards to slash as much cost from the process as possible.  However, the other side of the coin that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves is centered around optimizing payment types for monetization.  This comes through a strategic and automated shift towards virtual card payment (ACH too, but that’s more from a cost reduction play).  Through this approach, you tap into the interchange available between the clearing house and the vendor that is accepting payment.  In many cases you can earn 1-1.5% on your spend, which is like picking up free money just for changing your payment type.  On average, we’ve seen that nearly 33-40% of businesses are willing to accept virtual credit card transactions because they are faster, more secure, and easier to process than checks or other methods.  Between this and expanding the scope of early payment discounts in your department, you have a latent ability to literally convert AP into a strategic profit center, a thought previously undiscussed in the AP landscape.  


Reporting


One of the key benefits of automated accounts payable workflow software is the total visibility that it delivers to you.  By being able to see invoices at any stage in the accounts payable process, all guesswork for where something is at or how it arrived there is gone.  Instead, a rich audit trail gives you insight into all decisions around a transaction and a powerful system gives you the means to expedite, delegate, and otherwise handle any situation.  Reporting can be leveraged to automate month end processes like accrual forecasting or for delving deeper into analytics around your supplier base.  There are some nifty tricks you can leverage reporting for as well, especially around the area of fraud prevention or around cyclical audits.  The key thing is though that when all of your invoice data is indexed and searchable against multiple data points, you have a wonderful ability to extract value out of it that was previously impossible.  For many people, the report generation tools within their ERP are very limited or are functions that have to be passed off to IT staff that have to execute special scripts just in order to pull the data, which can be a show stopper from ever getting the analysis in the first place.


Making Your AP Process Beyond…


Perhaps you’ve just read about these and have some questions about how this might look like in your environment?  Well, part of figuring that out is assessing your current state of operations and going from there.  If you’re interested in a free AP assessment to see how you stack up against leading, third-party industry benchmarks, then we’re happy to help you with that...just click here!

Free eBook on Unlocking Profit From Transactional Document Processes!

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Topics: accounts payable workflow software, ap workflow software, Accounts Payable Process, AP Process, Virtual Payments

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