CloudX Blog

Accounts Payable Software Providers – The Installers

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Feb 13, 2013 7:33:00 AM

Accounts Payable Software Implementers - Provide the tools to improve your process! 

Implementers traditionally install a software solution and give you the tools to support it!

 

Automating invoice processing is a growing trend within the world of supply chain improvement, and has been around for some time.  In many cases, organizations that provide software to improve the Accounts Payable process got their start in the data capture area (OCR).  OCR software providers make a tangible difference in the lives of those who manage paper-burdened, intensive manual processes by automating the data entry aspect of these processes.  Ultimately, OCR is able to recognize document data with high levels of accuracy far more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively than human labor resources can.  As such OCR, has gained traction not just within AP, but across other high volume, transactional processes.

With that said, there are a cadre of organizations that offer technology to improve the AP process.  Due to how software companies have typically sold their solutions, many of the leaders in this space have built their entire offering around traditional delivery methodologies, and as such, we wanted to take a look at who might be some of the best providers of AP software.

For the sake of context, we’re looking at the traditional software providers in the AP space not including SaaS, Cloud, or BPO providers (not to be confused with Document Process Outsourcing providers, which is a fresh approach to process improvement and cloud technology synthesis).  So in layman’s terms…who are the providers that operate off a software license fee model, along with professional services, renewable support agreements, and all the good stuff that goes with installing, supporting, and administering a typical software deployment.

 

Here we go then…

 

Who are the leaders in Accounts Payable Software?

 

ReadSoft – Readsoft is a 22 year old technology provider that improves a breadth of core document processes.  They are based out of Sweden and publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange.  They are tightly integrated to both ORACLE and SAP, and are typically encountered in large Shared Service environments or in Enterprise level organizations.  The core offering includes capture, business intelligence, workflow, and some level of document management.  They recently diversified their existing delivery structure to include a cloud based automation platform.  Readsoft does not appear to offer any labor or offshore services wrapped around their core solution, ie. data validation, AP functions.

Prodagio -  Prodagio is 15 year old technology provider that is based in the US, and provides solutions for Procure to Pay, Invoice to Pay, and Contract Management needs.  They offer capture solutions (IBM technology), workflow, business intelligence, document management technology(typically wrapped around IBM’s enterprise content management solutions), and integration to a breadth of ERPs.  They also offer a comprehensive e-Invoicing platform that addresses inbound invoices across all formats including supplier networks (OB10).  They recently launched a cloud-based invoice automation platform, without AP services wrapped around it.

Kofax – Kofax is leader in capture technology and process automation.  With roots in Europe (publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange), Kofax has recently moved it’s global headquarter to Irvine, CA.  Kofax, like Readsoft, is tightly integrated to major ERP’s including SAP & Oracle.  Kofax is primarily a capture technology provider, whose solutions typically require the integration of enterprise content management systems as a means to a fully functional AP system.  Kofax does not offer BPO services wrapped around their software, instead  opting for traditional install, Professional Services, and support.  Kofax recently launched a mobile app for Invoice Submission and Workflow needs.

Brainware - Brainware is a US based Process & Content automation software provider who was recently acquired by Lexmark.  Brainware provides capture, content management, workflow, and business intelligence technology in addition to tangential areas of P2P improvement including Payment Card Processing, Expense Report Management, along with other items.  Brainware has recently launched a SaaS approach to Payables automation though without BPO services wrapped around it.  Brainware has a large presence in both the Healthcare and Higher Education markets and is highly regarded for its branding and visibility in the Finance community.

Basware – Basware is another leader in the Accounts Payable/Procurement automation space.  Unlike some of the other organizations listed here, they do provide some level of BPO service integration as a new service channel.   Basware is based in Europe and has a strong focus to SAP users.  Basware includes capture, business intelligence, workflow, archival, and integration services in their deployments.

Hyland OnBase – Hyland Onbase is also a highly regarded player in the traditional Accounts Payable automation software space.  Hyland does not offer a capture solution, but has highly developed and extended workflow and document management solutions.  Hyland also has a very strong presence in the Healthcare space as a core DMS system for other document processes.

 

We hope you found this helpful as you evaluate alternatives in the rapidly evolving Accounts Payable improvement space.  If you want to learn more about what we consider the best approach to automating payables, click here!

For other Accounts Payable best practices around AP automation, check out our eBook below!

Read More

Topics: Accounts Payable Process, AP Process, Accounts Payable Automation, Improve Accounts Payable, document process outsourcing, ap software, accounts payable improvement, ap automation, ap services

Using Accounts Payable Software & AP Services To Improve Visibility

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Feb 9, 2013 1:13:00 PM

 

Accounts Payable Process Automation gives you X-Ray vision into all your AP data!

AP Automation gives X-Ray vision to Finance Leaders!

 

Finance Executives, Shared Services leaders, and AP Managers all pursue Accounts Payable Automation initiatives for a host of different reasons.  Most of these folks know from witnessing inefficient processes that there are ways and means to effectively transform the process especially in light of recent technology advances.  As we’ve discussed in this post, there are compelling gains to be had across three primary areas:

Financial – Reduction of Invoice Processing Costs, Elimination of Late Fees, Increase in Early Payment Discount Capture

Operational – Elimination of Data Entry, Elimination of Manual Validation Steps, Increase in Invoice Turnaround Times, Elimination of Paper in the Process

Strategic – Increase in Process Visibility, Elimination of Process Chokepoints, Increase in FTE Productivity, Promotion of Compliance Standards, Promotion of Green Initiatives (Environmental…not money…that’s already covered!)

 

Accounts Payable software/services to drive automation creates intangible value too!

 

For starters, by getting out from under paper, you blaze a trail to transforming the fundamental role of AP from being a data entry shop to being a strategic asset to the business.  With AP automation, and visibility, as we’ll discuss in a second, the role of being a strategic partner becomes one of optimizing business outcomes.  In AP land that means chasing down, promoting, and capturing early payment discounts and providing superior customer service (Internal & External).

In addition to that, just making the Approval & Routing process for invoices electronic is a stress relief for all involved parties.  By going with automated workflow, you lighten the load for Approvers, GL Coders, and AP staff who are constantly chasing invoices in a manual environment.   From an AP management perspective, this will help you isolate and remedy process chokepoints and invoice exceptions that require intervention.

 

Your vendors will thank you too!

 

Visibility has implications for your vendor community too.  Through the use of vendor portal technology, you can empower vendors to self serve and check on the statuses of their submitted invoices.  (Sidenote – this is kind of like the checkouts in your local supermarket…have you noticed a trend over the last 3 or 4 years with all the self checkout lanes?  If it’s been largely accepted there, don’t you think your vendors might benefit from the same philosophy?  Just sayin’…)  People like to have control over their stuff…and vendors are not different.  You get the added benefit of cutting down calls into your AP staff that takes them off task by providing visibility into invoice information through automation of the Accounts Payable process.

 

Your CFO might just be your new BFF!

 

For Finance & Treasury executives, visibility into AP pipeline (and of course drill down to individual invoices) data ushers in new levels of accuracy and reporting not previously possible.  This can facilitate enhanced cash flow management and truly optimize the use of working capital.  For many organizations (healthcare in particular), capturing early payment discounts is difficult not just because of a lack of visibility, but also because of tight cashflow reasons.  With visibility to invoice data you can selectively choose which invoices can be accelerated for EPD capture within the constraints that present cash positions will allow for better spend management.

Visibility also has impacts upon invoice search and retrieval.  When invoices are indexed and classified within an AP system, the time spent searching for and finding them is drastically cut down compared to manual, paper laden environments.  This can help any internal personnel that need access to AP data, and also can help shorten Accounts Payable audit cycle times as producing the required records is expedited and requires less assistance from AP staff.

For many on the fence about AP automation, certainly looking at core items such as data entry reduction, eliminating manual work (physical process validation steps), and cost reductions are all factors that compel leaders to embrace change and move forward with improvement initiatives.  Visibility in all of these areas that we’ve discussed should be considered as well, and for many will be the icing on the cake after deploying automation through AP software or AP services.

 

To learn more about visibility and the impacts it can have on your Cost Per Invoice (the cost it takes to move an invoice in your organization from receipt to approval) check out our eBook on Uncovering the 7 Costs to Process an Invoice here!

Read More

Topics: Accounts Payable Process, AP Process, Improve Accounts Payable, ap system, accounts payable software, ap software, accounts payable improvement, ap automation, early payment discount, ap services, accounts payable audit

Document Type Classification Improves Accounts Payable Process

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Feb 4, 2013 9:43:00 AM

Your AP Process Sorter on Steroids: Document Type Classification

What exactly does a high speed package sorter got to do with Document Type Classification...?  Only everything!

 

Accounts Payable staff the world over are inundated with managing a variety of different documents to facilitate invoice processing, manage vendor files, collaborate with other departments, and provide accurate financial reporting.  AP is obviously known for its primary task with respect to managing and processing invoices from receipt through vendor payment.  However, other reporting requirements are often thrust upon AP professionals for a variety of reasons.  Certainly, all organizations are bound by some level of audit trail requirement, financial forecasting, vendor relations efforts, and other miscellaneous tasks.

The question that we’d like to address today is this:  In the context of managing the various document types that enter an AP process, how can AP staff improve Accounts Payable through the use of Document Type Classification (typically included in most Accounts Payable software/OCR technology)?

 

For one, let’s look at the various documents that enter Accounts Payable over the course of time.

 

In a typical day AP will receive (or generate):

-Invoices (Who knew?)

-Check Request Forms

-Check Copy Forms

-Electronic Funds Transfer Authorizations

-Petty Cash Requests

-Invoice Correction Forms

-1099 MISC Forms

-W-9 Forms

-Stop Payment Forms

-Credit Applications

-Credit Memos

-Travel & Expense Reports

-And on, and on, and on…

 

That’s quite a lengthy list, and by all means, not one hundred percent definitive, as any organization may have document processes that are unique to it which necessitate some other form or doc type.

The point is that all of these forms require some level of document management, human intervention, and physical process.  For those who operate in a manual fashion, most of these documents are typically maintained in vendor files alphabetically sorted and then chronologically indexed.  It’s not uncommon to see tax information in the midst of invoices documents, as well as the other items interspersed throughout a vendor file.  The problem this creates really lies around the search and retrieval aspect of managing vendor information, not to mention the actual processing of these documents.  Obviously when your records are jumbled together (as in the scenario above), locating and isolating the document in need becomes extremely time-consuming and inefficient.

 

That’s where Document Type classification becomes a big deal in an Automation scenario. 

 

This holds true in any document process, but especially a paper intensive process like Accounts Payable.  By leveraging powerful advanced, adaptive OCR technology, the processing engine that converts text on the document to data, can trigger process queues and workflows by identifying both keyword information as well as information based on document attributes. 

For instance, capturing keywords like Invoice/Credit Memo/PO #/Application/Form-1099, etc. can all be auto-captured indexed and shuffled to the correct workflow for intervention or straight-through processing.  Once processed or routed, the converted and indexed data can be neatly organized into a database for easier retrieval.  By adopting this type of an approach you can eliminate the need to file paper documents as outlined above and eliminate the paper shuffle, saving time and reducing frustration.  Also, if OCR technology is beyond your budget (or comprehension, as it is definitely a niche technology), using basic tools for workflow and document management coupled with manual indexing of the document (keying data fields into the database/document management system) will cost a bit of time on the front-end of the process, but save you a ton of time on the back end. 

Recently, in discussing this with a Controller of a community hospital, we benchmarked their AP efficiency and noted that their AP staff productivity was nearly 80% greater than what we typically see in an entirely manual process.  In real terms, they averaged closer to 2,200 invoices processed per month by their AP staff compared to 1,200 per month (we routinely see averages between 1,000 and 1,500 in manual environments).  For the sake of the comparison both sets of AP staff are manually entering invoices into their ERP’s as well as handling exceptions, and managing other AP related processes…vendor master file management, tax documents, internal service issues, and much more.  The difference is that the one with increased productivity adopted front-end scanning and basic workflow to assist in driving Non-PO invoice processing, and greatly reduced their search and retrieval times on AP documents.  With advanced Accounts Payable software, Accounts Payable solutions, or AP services(all leveraging intelligent OCR), we routinely see individual productivity soar between 3,500-5,000 invoices per month.

The entire point of using document type classification is that it makes it possible to reclaim swaths of time that in a manual environments are wasted on time-sucking, paper-pushing efforts.  Using document type classification in AP should definitely be considered an Accounts Payable best practice, and even beyond that, a best practice for managing any transactional document process.  It can greatly impact the time to process and get you out from under the paper burden to improving business outcomes.

 

To learn more about other Accounts Payable best practices, check out this eBook on AP automation!

Read More

Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Process, AP Process, Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, Invoice Processing, accounts payable best practices, ap software, Accounts Payable Solutions, ap services

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all