strategizing Accounts Payable Automation

Overnight Success? Let Strategy Guide Your AP Automation Expectations

Every day, more finance leaders at growing companies buy into the value prop of best-in-class, cloud-based financial management and accounting software. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is—not yet, anyway. What they have is a chicken-and egg situation: They want to “get strategic” and know they need to make the investment to get there, but they’re afraid the implementation of new technology won’t yield game-changing results fast enough.

They’re probably right, especially if they go into the endeavor with such lofty expectations. Overnight ROI isn’t realistic, but the ROI will appear—and, at some point, it will “take off” to the delight of all stakeholders, thanks largely to the strategic insights it affords finance leaders. When introducing game-changing technology that will eventually live up to its name, success is often dependent on a well-considered plan of attack.

It Takes A Strategy to “Get Strategic”

As we’ve discussed, The Biggest Benefit of Accounts Payable Automation is the strategic value it delivers to your finance and accounting organization—and to the business at large. This value is achieved by improving AP processes, reducing manual workloads, attaining operational efficiencies, enhancing data collection and reporting, and more. The quality of work goes up along with the volume of actionable insight. With more to bring to the table, CFOs and their teams are able to contribute to the strategic conversation and impact the company’s growth in new ways.

Strategic prowess is key—it’s where technology is taking finance leaders. But before they can get down to the business of strategizing they need to take care of other business first. It’s business that can be taken care of, however, by implementing the right technology. Yet consider these findings from Grant Thornton’s 2017 CFO Survey:

  • CFOs’ biggest priorities are increasing cash flow (45%), reducing costs (41%), and strategic planning (40%).
  • 46% believe that their IT platforms lack the ability to operate effectively and require future investment.
  • The barriers standing in the way of future technology growth include managing costs (51%), maintenance of legacy systems (41%) and seamless business integration (40%).

If upgrading their IT environments and adopting technologies like cloud computing and advanced analytics is what it takes to increase cash flow, reduce costs, and “get strategic,” then what’s the hold-up? Decision-makers might need some additional guidance on the matter. 

Get Help Pressing “Go” on the Investment

Recognize that increasing cash flow and reducing costs requires a new approach to accounting processes—it requires technology-driven automation. Deloitte’s assertion, presented in their Strategies for Optimizing Your Accounts Payable report, boils down to the fact that optimizing working capital requires accounts payables optimization! It takes management commitment—yes, a strategic commitment and investment in technology—to:

  • Centralize accounts payable processing and reporting
  • Move the organization toward a paperless processing environment
  • Enable more robust governance practices
  • Improve supplier relationships
  • Create management workflows
  • Strengthen purchasing approval processes

As these processes and workflows improve, your finance and accounting teams will gain the time and insights they need to focus on strategic initiatives. But how long will this take? When will these results be seen?

You should partner with a technology vendor who can help you customize your approach—so you can start seeing results.

  • Set up your software to to work with your existing systems and processes
  • Show you how to use the technology and tools in the effectively way
  • Grow with the technology as gain efficiencies, and growth into future.

Get in contact with us to learn more.

Accounts Payable Automation in the Cloud

The Biggest Benefit of Accounts Payable Automation

There are so many reasons to automate your accounts payable processes. By streamlining and standardizing your AP functions, you’ll quickly experience the benefits that come from a more efficient workflow and enhanced and more accurate data. You’ll save time and money, strengthen your vendor relationships, and increase productivity. But what you really gain—the benefit that’s driving the widespread adoption of cloud-based AP automation technology—is strategic value for your finance and accounting organization.

Accounting’s New Strategic Paradigm

As we recently explored in two blog posts, Meet the Tech Savvy CFO of 2017 and The Rising Value of the Strategic CFO, the role of today’s finance and accounting teams is changing. We can thank technology for simplifying many of their daily numbers-crunching activities—for freeing up their time and energy to focus on activities, like deep-dive data analysis and reporting, that push the business forward, not simply account for inputs and outputs.

With the right AP automation technology in place, finance and accounting departments are more agile and data-driven. They become part of the strategic conversation, the holders of invaluable insights that guide the business’s next steps and shape the future. But what does the “right” AP technology do for a growing company?

Building a Strong AP Foundation

Ardent Partners’ research report, The State of ePayables 2017, says that strategy-minded AP teams will be pursuing technology-enabled transformation in cash management, supplier management, and business intelligence—three key areas linked directly to AP processes. Taking this a step further, consider the core AP capabilities demonstrated by “Best-in-Class” AP teams vs. all others:

  • Standardized AP processes across the enterprise (88% vs. 61%)
  • Two or three-way matching capabilities (84% vs. 61%)
  • Ability to process invoices straight-through (73% vs. 34%)
  • Ability to automatically route invoices for approval (70% vs. 54%)
  • Ability to match invoices to contracts or payment plans (61% vs. 28%)
  • Ability to measure key AP metrics (47% vs. 22%)

Prioritizing these foundational AP capabilities, says Ardent Partners, “enables access to innovation and an ability to make a greater impact.” This is exactly why organizations are replacing their legacy systems and manual processes with more innovative solutions that automate—and add value to—core accounting functions. Traditional spreadsheets and yesterday’s technology are simply holding them back from making progress as a strategic business entity.

The Cloud Accounting Solution: A Strategic Investment

One of the fastest routes for a growing organization to achieve AP automation—and strategic prowess—is through a cloud accounting software solution. By way of automating once-manual processes, companies standardize transactions and workflows, increase accuracy and timeliness of payments, and have the tools to measure and even increase productivity. What’s more, they are also able to strengthen financial controls, increase visibility (even in real-time), and attain compliance and auditability—with access to user-friendly tools and data around-the-clock.

Learn more in How Cloud Accounting Lets Users Take Control of Process.

Sage Intacct offers the industry-leading and AICPA-preferred accounts payable software. Here are some of the AP tasks can you automate with Sage Intacct’s solution:

  • Expense allocations across entities, locations, and departments
  • 1099 coding, multiple entity consolidations, and IRS file generation
  • Payment approvals and payments—via check, cash, funds transfer, or manual
  • Amortization expenses
  • Vendor management workflows
  • Reports on vendors, aging, and payments

And when you integrate the cloud-based solution with your other systems, you can gain even more workflow efficiencies (e.g. less transaction re-keying) and insights over your data. As your capabilities expand by making the most of your technology ecosystem—with AP software at the center—your team will be able to uncover more opportunities and deliver richer, more actionable decision-support to the C-Suite.

So if you’re ready to stop managing payments manually—and you’d appreciate the strategic freedom afforded by a fully automated, digital AP process—contact us to get started.

Find out How Upgrading to the Cloud Lets You Hit the Ground Running.

Explorint the Impact of AP Automation

The Game-Changing Impact of Accounts Payable Automation at Growing Businesses

Whether an individual or an entire team handles your company’s accounting functions, implementing a cloud-based solution to automate their accounts payable process is the ticket to greater employee productivity, departmental efficiency, and strategic growth. That’s because AP is so fundamental to a company’s cash flow position. It’s central to your organization’s financial health, reputation with vendors and creditors, and, ultimately, your ability to increase market share.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of replacing an outdated, manual AP process with a digital solution—and why it’s critical to your company’s future.

Cloud Accounting Brings AP Automation to SMBs

First, it’s important to understand why now is the time to embrace up-to-date AP technology: it’s finally within reach of small and medium-sized businesses. Not too long ago, only larger firms with the financial and IT resources to build on-premise financial management and accounting systems were able to reap the benefits of an automated AP process.

It’s for this reason that the supply management research and advisory experts from Ardent Partners place “a more automated accounts payable process” as the first among their accounts payables predictions. They credit the rise of cloud-based solutions that make the game-changing technology (finally) accessible to SMBs who need the enhanced functionality to compete and grow.

So what AP tasks can be automated with a cloud accounting solution?

  • Payment approvals
  • Payments—via check, cash, or funds transfer
  • Vendor management workflows
  • Expense allocations across entities, locations, and departments
  • 1099s and other tax files
  • Amortization expenses

For more details, take a few minutes to look at Sage Intacct’s accounts payable software features. The key takeaway is that you can configure your cloud-based accounting solution to work within your company’s existing controls and administrative operations in order to get to the next level—however you define your growth goals. And you can do so affordably. Your new automated AP system will enable your accounting team to: 

Eliminate Process Bottlenecks—And Boost Productivity

The AP process is filled with potential time- and energy-suckers. Waiting on invoice approvals, searching stacks of paperwork for vendor contracts, and even mailing out paper check payments—these are among the many inconveniences of a manual (non-automated) workflow. And consider the limitations of your boxed software and spreadsheet-based system: rekeying transactions, manually pulling data from multiple sources, and stumbling over any number of process workarounds. A cloud-based, automated AP software solution digitizes everything, clearing the pipes to makes every task smoother, easier, and faster.

Love the idea of greater efficiency? Get inspired by reading How Cloud Accounting Delivers the Hidden Value of Wasting Time.

Reduce Organizational Costs—And Take Advantage of Opportunities

Lowering costs and maximizing cash flow are primary concerns for growing companies. Unfortunately, manual processes that depend on entry-level accounting systems result in higher than necessary labor costs, human-error related costs, and per-invoice processing costs. A more streamlined, automated AP process, on the other hand, actually saves time while guaranteeing data accuracy, resulting in your ability to lower departmental costs and maximize your human resources, without adding headcount.

In addition, you’ll be able to pursue financial opportunities you couldn’t before, such as early payment discounts and putting your employees on value-added—not simply administrative—projects that actually drive growth. Explore more insights in How Intacct’s Cloud-Based Financial Software Supports Growing Businesses with Automation.

Focus On Strategic Activities—And Support Business Growth

Automating back-office AP functions bring your accounting team up-front-and center, where they’re needed to support business expansion. “No longer a simple back-office function,” says Andrew Bartolini, Chief Research Officer of Ardent Partners in their 2016-2017 ePayables Tech and Innovation Outlook Report, “AP groups are now well-positioned to become true ‘hubs’ of visibility and intelligence, extending the value created within AP more broadly across both the enterprise and supply chain.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!


Contact us to learn more about automating your AP process with today’s best-in-class cloud accounting software solutions.