CloudX Blog

Using Accounts Payable Software To Kill Checks

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Jul 10, 2017 2:47:45 PM

Accounts Payable Software is going to reduce the number of checks cut

 

This should really come as no surprise

...but times are changingPart of that change is going to come by means of how we pay for things and no areas are getting transformed as rapidly as personal payments.  Certainly things like Bitcoin, Apple Pay, and the numerous other payment platforms that have sprung to life like Paypal and various others all spell the end or at least the major curtailing of traditional payment methods like checks.  The question that we want to broach today is what does that portend for B2B payments?


We think that the days of checks in the commercial space are also numbered, albeit it will take much longer for that revolution to set than it will in the personal space.  The primary reason for that is that innovation occurs at a much slower rate in the business space than in the personal space due to barriers in adoption, technology, and conformity unfortunately.  Whereas individuals are always looking to make their time more efficient and easy, the uncomfortable truth is that too many businesses can’t be bothered with improving secondary, back office functions that don’t result in some type of strategic or monetary value add.  Additionally, unless there is some major incentive to change, most companies are content to just carry on with the status quo.


It seems that this is a notion that should be challenged for a couple reasons.

 

 For starters, if your business exists in a high growth industry or is tech centered, then you may already be primed to push the boundaries by having a culture that propels you forward.  Conversely, if you’re in a legacy business that is stable there may be less pressure to do things to the standards of burgeoning companies and as such you can get caught in a rut of complacency.  Ironically, in businesses that are more antiquated and slow growth, you can stand to increase margins by becoming operationally efficient, so really whether it’s a need to scale and push the boundaries or a need to streamline, the benefits and byproducts of automation are the same.  Now with that said, this piece is purposed to center on the payments and in particular using epayments to kill checks.  


This can be facilitated with our without accounts payable software.  Numerous electronic payment providers have systems that you can utilize to automate the payment functions.  There are numerous electronic means to invoke payment whether Wire, ACH, or even virtual payments are invoked.  From our perspective, the latter offers the best alternative to checks because of the reasons we outline over here.  However, any of these means offer advantages to the costs and burden of traditional check printing.  Alternatively, you could participate in various EDI or e-invoicing networks if you are fairly sophisticated, but know that there can be numerous adoption challenges and significant time and capital outlay to get these systems operational.  For this reason, and until there is some kind of a forced government mandate, we believe that these methodologies will always the trail the aforesaid options.


However, our mission is to help businesses come out from under the burden of paper and paper based document processing.  

 

As such, check payments are on the chopping block and we want to create awareness about the benefits to automating through accounts payable software.  One of the key elements to our vision for streamlined accounts payable invoice processing is to connect the automation and workflow technology to payment invocation and execution.  That is a major advantage to having both your front end invoice processing automated through accounts payable software that is integrated to your actual payment execution.  You can certainly manage this through multiple systems, but from our perspective, if you can tie these two together you can kill multiple birds with one stone so to speak.  


The other key advantages that ratchet up to kill checks as an option in the B2B space are the enhance security, timeliness of payment controls, and complete visibility to the invoice approval, processing, and payment components of the transactions.  Any way you slice it Accounts Payable software offers tremendous value, but we think beyond the operational elements you can literally monetize to make money for your business and to make a substantial difference in how work gets done making it a no-brainer at least for most businesses to evaluate.

 

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Topics: accounts payable software, Electronic Payments, Virtual Payments

Accounts Payable Software for the new school!

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Jan 31, 2017 12:39:00 PM

Accounts Payable Software Old School vs New School

Kickin' It Old School

In today’s post, we want to challenge some old school thinking around Accounts Payable software.  One of the prevalent thoughts that has held sway over the entire AP automation industry is really a focus on core invoice processing.  By this I mean that the focus for Accounts Payable software has typically been oriented around streamlining process and expediting process cycles and data accuracy.  While we certainly won’t contend that these are out of fashion, we want to elevate the nature of the conversation to the many potentialities that a cutting edge AP automation approach will deliver.  It’s not that the former thinking is bad at all… in fact, it’s a great start, but just as many things evolve over time, it’s time consider some implications that today’s technology can bring to bear in your business.

Bringin' It New School

Let’s take a quick look beyond the normative elements (things like capture, workflow, document imaging, etc.) of sound Accounts Payable software (at least in terms of invoice automation):

 

Dynamic visibility - This is a big deal and unfortunately not all businesses grasp what’s at stake with respect to this point which is why we want to bring it into the light here.  Certainly, the ability to be able to call up an invoice from a search perspective has myriad advantages over antiquated paper storage and retrieval methods.  This is not rocket science either.  Simply ask any member of an Accounts Payable department what life is like when the auditors come calling and they’ll probably offer to buy you a bottle of suds and tell you their woes.  The fact is no one likes to be someone’s lackey or Smee, and without fail many AP staff are subject to this type of existence when the retrieval process for invoices is onerous.  Enter solid Accounts Payable software and this issue disappears like the morning dew.  However, having access to data in real time, not just archival, affords the opportunity for data driven business outcomes.  As an example, surfacing invoices with eligible discounts as part of your daily processing queue, will empower an AP organization to function more strategically, execute payment, and pocket the savings generated through an early payment discount.  Absent dynamic visibility AP staff are less empowered to impact their business in as positive a way.

 

Payment execution - Certainly front end invoice processing is the ideal in terms of AP automation.  Who can argue with divesting themselves of copious and error prone data entry in favor of accurate data throughput without the need for keystrokes?  While that is a great start, and one that only about 40% of the corporate landscape has undertaken we might add albeit surprisingly, to get to the next level savvy finance leaders are integrating optimized payment execution into their AP automation approach.  Instead of integrating multiple modules of disparate technology providers, a one-stop shop approach is becoming increasingly utilized.  As an example state of the art Accounts Payable software can seamlessly handle both the front end invoice processing and the execution of payment across a variety of payment types to include ePayments like ACH, virtual card, wire and traditional payment types like check.  This becomes a boon to the processing flow and the invoice cycle time part of the narrative, but the real kicker is found through monetizing the payment stream via the aforesaid ePayment method that is virtual card processing.  By this means, corporations can tap their AP spend in a new found, sustainable, and low resource requirement way that becomes a spigot of profitability in what is usually a cost generating quagmire, and while this may be news to you, it’s certainly something executives who are trying to steward the bottom line are sure to be happy about.



Mobile empowerment - In keeping with the idea of getting the most productivity out of your workforce, modern renditions on Accounts Payable software have the invaluable integration of mobile technology.  This is also an imperative not only from a search and retrieval standpoint, but also from a workflow escalation and payment execution capacity.  Lost time translates to lost opportunity and if inefficient processing impedes your ability to capture payment discounts or causes you to bear late fees, then something must be done.  To our thinking, one of those somethings is to harness mobility instead of shifting blame to someone being out of the office as the reason something didn’t get processed.  Combined with intelligent workflows and delegation, astute AP leaders can mimic internal business rules driving opportunities for positive business outcomes forward at record pace.



We hope you found this insightful and welcome you to continue learning and growing as we tackle all manner of things Accounts Payable process related!  If you enjoyed this, give us a like and a share!

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Topics: accounts payable software, Accounts Payable Process, epayments, Virtual Payments

Making Accounts Payable Great Again

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Jan 24, 2017 2:10:12 PM

Make Accounts Payable Automation great again!

Great Again

In the spirit of the wild ride that has been the election cycle of 2016 and now Inauguration Day 2017, we are on a quest to make Accounts Payable great again.  Not that Accounts Payable has ever been not great, but it certainly has been challenged by tedious processes, inefficiencies, risks of all kinds, and costs abundant.  We say no more and that a new era in AP is possible through the synthesis of multiple technologies and novel approaches to AP automation that are afforded to businesses of all sizes, from micro to enterprise level.

 

In our travels, we’ve encountered many differing opinions as to the best approach to improving this cumbersome transactional area, and while no solution is one size fits all, we do believe that a comprehensive AP invoice processing automation initiative is the healthiest way for most companies to transform this area of their business.  Certainly approaches like EDI and e-Invoicing are meritorious and noteworthy, but present significant implementation, support, and vendor onboarding challenges that are non-starters to most companies.  Without governmental mandates to adopt said approaches, our assessment of the future of this space is that they will continue to stagnate in terms of adoption, as businesses seek more user friendly, rapidly deployable, and cost effective approaches to automate.

 

What The Experts Say

With that said, PYMNTS.COM released an article titled Mastercard’s Four Pillars of B2B Payments Innovation and cited Sachin Mehra, Group Executive of Global Commercial Products at Mastercard.  He had some interesting thoughts on identifying the four pillars that businesses need to solve for via corporate payments and they include: “working capital, data, more control and/or a more efficient process”.  We couldn’t agree more.

 

With that being said, this has been the focus of CloudXsince our inception in 2011.  Our primary aim was to bolster and streamline AP in ways that were previously unattainable due to cost and resource constraints that most companies face (especially the small and mid market space).  While this mission continues, there is so much more to mine out of what’s understood as the AP invoice processing cycle.  While our focus is unchanged in terms of the front end functions that need to happen to expedite how invoices are processed, what happens on the payment side can be a complete boon to your organizationand intertwines with Mr. Mehra’s comments.  We believe an efficient process dovetails with an effective and secure ePayment approach.  Not only that, but it drives profits back to your bottom line, and for this reason needs to be considered by any forward thinking Financial leader.

 

To the other points, we further agree and think that data is completely underutilized in AP, primarily in manual environments.  This has to do with a more reactionary approach due to the crushing requirements of manual data entry and human validation that occur.  When this burden is lifted via AP automation, you flip the script on the entire situation and can get yourself into a position where you then tap the data to drive the process.  This can include internal workflow automations to expedite approvals, processing, and even payment type.  By doing this, you not only create the financial windfall associated with virtual card rebates, but you also empower your staff to focus on other higher order activities.  We’ve seen numerous clients transition AP staff into analytical and special project roles that they’ve always been wanting to execute but never able to achieve without automation.

 

So the question for you is, what problems are you solving for in AP this year and how will you make it great again?

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Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, epayments, Virtual Payments

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