CloudX Blog

Accounts Payable Workflow Software - 3 Reasons Why You Need It

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Aug 18, 2016 11:36:32 AM

Why Accounts Payable workflow software is the hottest thing since sliced bread!

An homage to Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Today’s post will be a sort of odd homage to someone you’ve surely never heard of, but whom I guarantee has had a profound impact on your life, especially if you’re a citizen of the United States.  We want to give credit where credit is due, so with that said it’s time that Otto gets his.  Who’s that you say? I’m glad you asked.  It turns out that Otto, invented the first truly effective commercial bread slicer to come to market.  While the technology existed to slice bread mechanically nearly seventy years prior, the shape and size of loaves weren’t suitable to this end until the 1930’s which is when the golden era of bread on a mass produced scale was ushered in.  (More on that here...) What on earth does this have to do with Accounts Payable workflow software though, besides the toast that you’re possibly munching on presently, or the tasty cushion for your BLT you’ll be enjoying in a few hours…?  Well, the adage that this or that product is the hottest thing since sliced bread became a well known cultural idiom in our American lexicon, possibly in part due to Wonder Bread’s use of it as a marketing gimmick in the post 1930’s era.

Ok, now that we’ve beefed up your knowledge of mid 20th century America, as it relates to food history it’s time to connect the dots to the modern world and the Accounts Payable process landscape that we live, work, and play in daily.

Accounts Payable Workflow Software is the hottest thing since sliced bread if you’re looking to transform your AP process, but why?

Well, we’ve put together three simple reasons for your reading pleasure...and while we understand and endorse multiple methods for improving AP, like EDI or e-Invoicing as highly advanced technical options, the reality is that for most businesses those approaches are untenable and won’t cover a high percentage of their vendor and invoice population due to resource constraints and onboarding challenges.  More on that here…

3 Reasons Why You Need It

Process Speed

One of the biggest bottlenecks for Accounts Payable processes the world over, and one that can be remedied through Accounts Payable workflow software is the time it takes for an invoice to travel through an organization while it gets GL-coded (aka when it is assigned the appropriate cost center by which it should be booked) and ultimately approved.  For many businesses this is still a manual or quasi-manual process whereby an end approver needs to see the invoice and then physically write down the appropriate expense code along with a signature and date before the invoice can be booked into the accounting system and ultimately paid.  While that might’ve been effective in the past, albeit not pretty, it really should have no more sway in today’s payables landscape.  Accounts Payable workflow software should be configured to automatically route invoices by some logic set including vendor, ship or receive location, or other unique attribute to assign it to the correct approver in the organization.  Interoffice mail, e-mail, or God-forbid, express courier should be entirely obviated through this effort, reclaiming precious lost time where the process would otherwise lag.  Oh, by the way, one of the by products of a faster process is that it becomes the enabler to pursuing advanced and favorable payment outcomes, to include early payment discounts.

Cost Slashing Benefits

As a tangent to the point above, the cost associated with the manual distribution processes for invoices can range from relatively low, to exorbitantly high.  Interoffice mail, physical mail between departments, or express courier packages working their way between offices can range from $.50 to over $1-2 per INVOICE.  In a climate where most businesses are trying to reduce cost and give themselves advantages to competing, this is a step in the wrong direction.  However, for every invoice that you can successfully route through your Accounts Payable workflow software, you can slash that spend by over 90% in many cases.  If that’s not something you’ve looked into, then we advise you to...quickly!

Total Visibility

The biggest benefit to AP workflow software, arguably, is the transparency that it renders to the entirety of the process.  When you have insight into every stage of your AP process from invoice receipt, through exception handling, to matching, to coding, to approval, to release to ERP, to payment...well you get the picture!  You are not an outsider to the process wondering what is going on or how to get to the bottom of where an invoice is, but you are the master of your fate...the captain of your soul...or at least your Accounts Payable process.  Visibility is something that helps AP administrators, managers, and controllers alike to expedite processing and eliminate bottlenecks.  It’s also a handy thing when it comes time for audits and makes understanding how invoices have flowed through the organization and how decisions have been made.


For these reasons, like we said before Accounts Payable workflow software is the hottest thing since sliced bread, especially for those companies who can’t pull of EDI and who have deployed or can’t deploy e-Invoicing.

P.S. - While Accounts Payable workflow software is the goods, you’ll need more than that to transform and optimize your process...check this out to get our thoughts on what the utopian scenario for AP invoice processing should look like in the 21st century!

Free eBook on The 7 Best Practices To AP Automation!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, AP Process, e-invoicing, edi, accounts payable workflow software, ap workflow software

Building an Accounts Payable Automation Team with Some Heart!

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Jan 15, 2014 4:04:00 PM


 Accounts Payable automation requires heart!

Have a heart! 


One of the consistent things I’ve noted in traveling the Accounts Payable automation world for the better part of two years is that most service providers in this space have done an effective job of building organizations with brains and brawn.   This is a good thing and ensures a robust suite of compelling solutions to meeting todays myriad business challenges.  Whether the issues stem from processing centric issues to compliance to visibility, there’s seemingly a solution for virtually every business challenge that a Finance leader, and more specifically, an Accounts Payable leader could face.  While that’s well and good, the one thing that is lacking is that it seems to me that there is a fundamental disconnect within the industry and the consumers who utilize said solutions…a connection of heart.


Now that’s not to say that the service providers in the AP automation space don’t have heart, it just means that heart is not something that is reflected outwardly in their approach to their customers.  If what I’m saying makes sense, then it’s because the relationship between many vendors in this space and their customers is mechanical and primarily intellectual…which is a good thing since many of the issues that solutions address are highly technical and require deep levels of subject matter expertise.  The issue herein is how these are addressed at both a core and surface level.   Consider how Apple transcended Microsoft in its approach to personal computing and the human experience.  One could argue that the emotional connection to the Apple brand inspired a much higher level of devotion, similar to other industry leaders like Starbucks Coffee, Hubspot for Marketing, and Nike to athletics.  They almost become lifestyle representatives that evoke a synthesis between form and function, purpose and beauty.

No more!

Because of that we feel it’s important to note that the connection between the heart and the head are not mutually exclusive.  That ultimately compelling AP automation solutions (and Document Process Outsourcing applications) at a high level need to integrate both of these needs.   It’s also our belief that the primary users of these applications often go overlooked in their organizations.  The relegated back office users that never get any of the cool toys…kind of like the younger siblings in large families, having to  fight for servings or the ones inheriting tattered hand me downs.


At CloudX our goal is to help companies that are looking to bridge the gap to automation through cloud based improvement.


The cool factors:


  1. Cloud delivery makes it accessible…to pretty much anyone, anywhere.   If you have access to the internet through a browser, you’re pretty much good to go…no servers required.
  2. You’re not held hostage by IT.  No offense to the IT folks, because they are indispensable, but you don’t need an army o f them to support this prior to and after go-live, which keeps things simple and keeps costs down.
  3. Our approach doesn’t break the bank.  Many software companies in this space have legacy business models that require big time software licensing fees to bring their technology in…unfortunately though, because Accounts Payable automation solutions are sometimes an after thought for executives in terms of priority for improvement, it doesn’t leave much by way of capital dollars.  The problem for many of these providers is that their business model is inextricably intertwined to that type of revenue cycle, and transitioning away from it is costly and foreign to their thinking.
  4. Experts on demand.  Many of the software providers give you a toolbox to set about improving your operations.  That’s great if you are a craftsman, but for many people, learning the new technologies to improve said processes are a show-stopper.  When dealing with the Accounts Payable process, you’re talking about learning how to manage OCR technology, workflow technology, database technology, business intelligence, and reporting.  Not to mention user administration, support, etc.  With a cloud delivery model and customer focused organization…supporting this is a cinch without the headaches mentioned above.
  5. The waterboy mentality.  No, we’re not purveyors of high quality H20, nothing wrong with that … and from what I hear on the Discovery channel, without water you’re toast in 3 days in a survival scenario.  But given the confines of most corporate convention centers, I don’t think that will be an issue…surviving the coffee is another story.  What I mean by that is that we as an organization have infamous Rob Schneider ‘You can do it!’ philosophy.  And no, we’re not talking about anything untoward…we simply mean that our responsiveness to customer concerns, adaptations, and needs is paramount and that our product road map is responsive to latent marketplace needs…meaning that we help you do what you need to and get the headaches out of the equation period.


So if you’re interested in learning more about this philosophy check out this Prezi on ourapproach to improving Payables here!


Free eBook on The 7 Best Practices To AP Automation!


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Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, ap automation, e-invoicing

Why Vendor Portals Are Needed To Improve The Accounts Payable Process

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Feb 22, 2013 7:38:00 AM

 Accounts Payable Software & Vendor Portals need to give suppliers multiple transmission options!

People like options.


Options give people the feeling that they are in control…whether in business or just in life.  Consider Mini…by creating a platform that is highly customizable, they’ve endeared a huge global fan base because Mini owner get to pimp their rides from a seemingly endless menu of accessories and options that make their cars more personal and unique.  It’s seldom that people complain about having too many options.  With that said, options in the AP process are forcing Finance & Shared Services leaders the world over are being forced to address rapid shifts in invoice submission technology to accommodate the preferences of their vendors.  This creates challenges from an IT and invoice processing perspective. 


What problems you ask?


Creating & maintaining avenues by which vendors can supply their transaction data can become cumbersome and tedious in a hurry.  Paper, long being the dominant format that invoices are submitted by suppliers to their customers is being slowly reduced as new options including emailed invoices (PDF & TIFF format), Electronic Data Interchange, EIPP, and P2P (Supplier networks) take flight and gain adoption.  If you think about it, paper as a medium for conveying invoice transaction information requires the least amount of work from the supplier to produce, and as such, it’s one of the primary reasons that so many invoices are still submitted this way.  One of the reasons that vendors are willing to alter their submission methodology is that they are keenly aware of the fact that there are faster and less costly ways of getting invoices over to their customers…namely via an email transmission (eliminating the need to print & post mail, which is generally at least a $.60-75 cost).


What obstacles impede the adoption of more advanced supply chain transactions?


1.  Lack of technical resource – Advanced supply chain interactions like EDI require high levels of subject matter expertise.  Considering that each supplier will have a unique EDI file mapping requirement, it’s a cumbersome and time consuming process to define and validate data sets that will be amenable to both the purchaser and the seller.  Further, you have to consider that not every supplier will have the bandwidth or expertise required to adopt an EDI approach.


2.  Lack of scale -  Another factor to consider is that the smaller you are as an organization the less sway you have over your supplier base.  Conversely, if you’re a juggernaut in your industry, it’s easier to get your supplier base to tango with you, as you can use your scale as a leverage point to incent them to see things from your perspective.  (We’ve even seen instances where organizations have mandated EDI for their suppliers, and charged a processing fee per submitted invoice for those who refused to comply).


3.  Lack of patience – Some approaches to AP automation are faster to deliver business impacts than others.  If any or all of your improvement initiatives require your vendors to adopt to a new process, prepare for a war of attrition (aka don’t hold your breath).  However, if you can make changes to your internal process and leverage technology and an improved process (yes, we were thinking a DPO approach…how did you read our minds…?), you can realize improvements and benefits much faster than in instances that require lengthy roll-outs.


So, the primary reasons to consider a Vendor Portal are straightforward.  With a vendor portal, you can provide your vendors the ability to self-serve from an invoice submission perspective, as well as through an invoice status check perspective.  This gives you and your staff the added benefit of reduced inbound calls, which can be time consuming and distracting to core responsibilities.  Additionally, if your AP Software or AP services provider is worth their salt, this will be an included feature of their platform. Ultimately, the conversation around vendor portal technology comes back to how we started…providing options to your external customer.   The vendor portal (and your Accounts Payable process as a whole) should be flexible enough to accommodate multiple invoice formats to include E-Invoices and digital invoices (PDF/Tiff).   This underscores the reason why supplier portals are needed to improve the AP process, as they represent a means to create mutually beneficial outcomes with the least impediments to adoption.

If you want to see how Accounts Payable software and vendor portal technology can work together to make your invoice process faster, easier, more accurate and generally awesome….click here!


To learn more about Accounts Payable Automation and Accounts Payable best practices, check out the ebook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, accounts payable improvement, accounts payable outsourcing, vendor portal, e-invoicing

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