As you move from recovery to rebound, the pitfalls will still be steep and the cash will still be tight. Though there are many ways to approach improvement, finding out how to take control over your accounts payable processes can help you spend smarter as you ramp up for recovery.
Following our last blog on the accounts payable changes you have to make to ensure your pivot from recovery to growth goes smoothly, we would like to turn our attention to another key area—the software that can take you there.
The Value of AP Automation
In a recent whitepaper written for the Controllers council by our esteemed sponsor Bill.com, accounts payable automation is one of the most effective things a company can do. Not only does it help you save time, but it can also help your company avoid lost invoices, reduce fraud, and free up people from the annoyances that exist in entering data multiple times.
But the decision to put an AP solution in place goes further. Controls, collaboration, and strategy are all part of the equation for the modern business, and AP solutions make this happen.
- Accounts Payable Automation Empowers People: AP automation allows finance and accounting to take a more strategic approach, implement better controls, and better manage working capital.
- AP Helps to Connect and Align Finance: Adopting an automated AP solution provides the CFO, controller and AP manager with an opportunity to re-imagine what the AP process should look like.
- AP Eliminates the Time Drain on Finance: Too often, your highly-paid finance staff is wasting away on manual processes, entering the exact same data in an AP subledger, then onto a check or online bank account, then into a reconciliation spreadsheet, then into a general ledger. Automation connects these and frees up your staff to work on important work.
Finding an AP Solution: What Should You Look For?
Knowing this, finding the right solution that can deliver for you takes some work. Though these solutions are more straightforward and less risky to implement than something like ERP, there are a lot of providers out there who may or may not deliver the value you need. What should you look for?
A recent whitepaper sponsored by Bill.com explores just that, documenting the benefits of AP Automation, the things a CFO, controller, and AP manager should look for, and the ten criteria for selection. Thought we offer a small overview, the entire whitepaper offers a much deeper look into the process.
- How Efficient is the Scanning and Coding Process? If a solution is supposed to make your job easier, it pays to know how they’re going to deliver. Ask about the receiving process, centralization, and future plans to make this easier.
- Is the Solution Going to Make Your Workflows Work? From avoiding fraud to putting decisions in the right hands, your solution needs to fit into your processes and ensure accountability.
- Will it Make Payments Easy? A solution not only needs to handle payments, it needs to handle a variety of payments. How does the system handle different payment methods, such as check, ACH, wire and card payments, and payments in different currencies?
- Will it Work with Current or Desired Solutions? Integration matters, and your solution needs to work with the products you want to or currently have.
- Does It Provide Visibility? Solutions need to add value. Not only do they deliver by making your job easier, but informing you about opportunities. Reporting has to be functional, approvals need to be auditable, and if they promise integration with accounting or ERP, it better provide necessary data and reports for that too.
- Is It Easy to Use? Once upon a time, in the distant past that was 2019, we traveled for business. Mobility has been a key talking point for years, and when we get from home office to main office, executives will need to access software when, where, and how they want. Added to this, products need to be convenient and easy to use.
- Will the Company We Work with be Helpful? If you need assistance, the vendor needs to deliver in the way that works for you. Knowledge bases are important for quick questions, support lines need to be efficient, and the vendor needs to deliver these.
- Is It Secure? Your AP solution Is going to connect with a lot of business processes, and security is mission critical.
- How Do We Pay? The month-to-month subscription model is going to reduce upfront costs and it might be the most convenient way to approach a product nowadays.
- Has the Vendor Delivered? Companies of all sizes sell AP software. But has the company worked with others like you? Much like delivering a flexible solution, the company needs to understand your business to deliver what you need.
AP in Recovery, AP in Growth: Download AP Automation Buyers Guide Here
By saving time and improving the use of finance resources, AP automation can put you in a position where you can see more, do more, and get what you need. The Buyers Guide to AP Automation explores the wide range of benefits that AP delivers and helps decision makers understand and embrace a solution that works to deliver.
Working with Proformative, Bill.com collected 10 evaluation criteria for evaluating any AP automation system—with more than 50 questions your provider should be able to answer. This free guide is available to Controllers Council Members and non-members alike, and we invite you to download it here.
Additional Accounts Payable Resources
Solidifying Accounts Payable on the Road to Recovery
AP Automation in Cash Flow Sustainability
Six Key Metrics to Track as You Pivot from Lockdown to Recovery (Part 1)