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9 Min. Read

The 7 Best Accounts Payable Automation Software

The 7 Best Accounts Payable Automation Software

In the course of standard operations, many businesses rely on outside vendors for goods and services. Once these are received, there must be a system for payment. This is where the Accounts Payable (AP) process comes in.

Although it's possible to handle each incoming invoice or bill manually, automation tools reduce the tedious steps involved in the AP process. Accounting software and financial platforms can catch mistakes and errors, which ensures more accurate record-keeping.

In this guide, we'll highlight seven of the top Accounts Payable automation solutions. Based on your company's budget, staff resources, and operational costs, you may find that one type of software works better than another. Use this resource to compare options before choosing.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What is the Accounts Payable Process?

What is Accounts Payable Automation Software?

Benefits of Accounts Payable Automation Software

Top Accounts Payable Automation Software Choices

AP Automation and Achieving Goals

Key Takeaways

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What is the Accounts Payable Process?

In accounting, Accounts Payable is the account that corresponds to money owed by a business to a vendor or supplier. AP amounts are reflected as liabilities on the balance sheet. In double-entry accounting systems, AP totals are recorded as credits in Accounts Payable and as debits to the corresponding expense account.

The approval workflow for Accounts Payable includes:

  • Gathering data from invoices or vendor statements
  • Linking the information to a purchase order or supplier invoice
  • Making timely payment by the due date
  • Updating the accounting system to reflect accurate credits and debits

A seamless accounts payable workflow ensures that businesses are square when it comes to expenses. Additionally, timely payments solidify vendor relationships and prevent unnecessary delays in service.

Who Uses Accounts Payable Software?

Accounting staff or members of a company's finance team are most likely to use Accounts Payable. These individuals are tasked with overseeing the manual payment steps or digital workflow in real-time. They must field incoming invoices or bills, link the documentation correctly, and issue payments.

Finance leaders may regularly audit Accounts Payable to ensure accuracy. When using automated accounting software, internal controls can be used to grant access to various members of an accounting team. This option provides flexibility for businesses that employ an external accountant or accounts manager to handle the books.

What is Accounts Payable Automation Software?

AP automation software is typically just one component of a full-scale accounting software suite. Other features in accounting platforms can include Accounts Receivable tools, invoice processing, a general list of accounts, and procurement features.

Conversely, some AP automation tools are stand-alone. In these instances, you may need to check for integrations that offer the option to connect the Accounts Payable software to an accounting or bookkeeping software of choice.

When choosing a stand-alone AP automation software, verify that the solution is secure, compliant, and private. With such a wide range of options available, it's most important to know where your AP data is stored, how it is used, and how you can access it from anywhere.

Benefits of Accounts Payable Automation Software

There are many advantages to using AP automation software for accounting and bookkeeping. In particular, Accounts Payable automation tools allow businesses to:

  • Improve document management
  • Transition manual payment process to digital systems
  • Process invoices more efficiently
  • Make use of cloud-based accounts for better visibility and up-time
  • Manage supplier relationships with enhanced data and live insights

Automation software is best suited for businesses that are ready to scale and that have a willingness to adapt to new technologies.

Top Accounts Payable Automation Software Choices

The Accounts Payable process includes many moving pieces and workflow steps. Accounting teams may choose to leverage payment automation to save time and reduce human error. Regardless of the accounts payable software you use, there is no substitute for a highly trained, detail-oriented accounting team to oversee each step of the process.

We've chosen seven unique AP automation technologies to highlight in this guide. Each choice offers various plan levels (based on business size), customizable features, financial control, and other benefits. 

1. FreshBooks

FreshBooks offers intuitive accounting software built for small business owners. The platform relies on double-entry accounting procedures to ensure accuracy and guarantee compliance. Accountants choose FreshBooks for its ease of use and accessibility.

With FreshBooks, users can quickly and easily manage Accounts Payable. Users can track every bill payment (including simple monthly recurring bills, like internet or wifi), make fast payments, and run reports on vendor interactions.

Additionally, FreshBooks makes it easy to create and download reports such as a Profit & Loss or Cash Flow statements in order to measure financial standing and prepare for tax time. 

2. DocuWare

DocuWare is a fully automated software suite designed to improve workflow processes for businesses in almost any industry. When it comes to managing Accounts Payable, DocuWare helps users eliminate outdated paper processes and manual data entry. 

With automated invoice processing, teams can significantly reduce steps and free up time for more important financial activities. With smart and automatic approval routing, there's never a delay in issuing a payment or completing steps on time.

DocuWare's AP automation tools are uniquely designed to improve team accountability and transparency. Smart, pre-loaded features help every team member stay in the loop with broader business goals.

3. Sage Intacct

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based financial management software that offers a variety of tools and services for business owners. Accounts Payable automation is housed within Sage Intacct's Core Financials product offerings.

With Sage, users can reduce invoice processing time by as much as 65%. Expanded access and visibility from any device (including mobile devices) offers a high level of interaction and remote flexibility.

Sage Intacct also offers specialized reports and detailed analytics, including a vendor aging report. This feature, in addition to many others, provides a high-level look at the entire Accounts Payable process. Automated insights yield better business decisions for companies of any size.

4. MineralTree

If you're looking for a stand-alone AP automation tool, MineralTree is one option to consider. Unlike other platforms, MineralTree focuses solely on the Accounts Payable process. MineralTree's goal is to help businesses reduce processing costs and drive more cash or profit.

MineralTree's software is built on a 4-part process: invoice capture, invoice approval, payment authorization, and payment completion. At each step, the automation tools eliminate the time-consuming aspects of each workflow with more intuitive responses.

MineralTree also integrates to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for enhanced connection to the business and financial models of a company. 

5. Plate IQ

Plate IQ is another stand-alone Accounts Payable automation software that helps companies receive, approve, and process transactions more efficiently. Plate IQ is recognized for managing the entire AP life cycle. This includes invoice receipt and management, bill pay, and spending analysis.

Plate IQ also helps customers maximize benefits and spot untapped savings. Whether this is in the form of 1% cash back on paid bills or gathering granular data from invoices and vendors, Plate IQ prioritizes cash savings whenever possible.

6. Spendesk

Spendesk is a different kind of software that offers finance teams ultimate control and oversight into company spending, which includes invoices, credit cards, and any other form of payment. Spendesk's accounting automation tools are helpful for reducing the time spent at the end of each month on reconciliation and bill pay.

With Spendesk, users should expect to import data to a separate accounting platform or software option. Spendesk's integrations include Xero, QuickBooks, Sage Intacct, DATEV, and Netsuite. At set intervals, users can sync and run reports on completed payment data. 

7. OnBase (Hyland)

The OnBase Accounts Payable automation solution helps businesses minimize the amount of touches required to process bills and invoices. Intuitive features also reduce or eliminate the need for re-entering known data into the financial or accounting system.

Users can standardize workflows (for better team collaboration), grant or restrict access to certain types of payments, and adjust financial processes easily without the help of IT departments. OnBase also ensures a thorough documentation trail for auditing and tax purposes.

If you need or want to sync your AP automation to an ERP, OnBase has you covered with integrations that boost transparency and efficiency with respect to planning and procurement.

AP Automation and Achieving Goals

Although an Accounts Payable team has a specific purpose (paying invoices and bills), this department should not be exempt from setting important goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). In fact, much of the behind-the-scenes work performed by AP teams has a significant impact on the business model as a whole. There are several worthy goals that AP automation can help a team achieve.

  • Reduction of late payment costs. Over time, missing payments or making payments late can result in steep fees. These are unnecessary expenses, particularly for businesses without a lot of wiggle room in the budget. 
  • Managing cash flow over a set time range. In business, cash ebbs and flows over the course of a month or quarter. AP team members have unique insight into what money is due and when. This information can be used to help business leaders make more informed spending and expense decisions.
  • Leverage special discounts or payment benefits. Do any vendors offer special incentives for paying early? Are there tangible ways to reduce an expense? In Accounts Payable, team members can look at the data for each vendor and anticipate cost-saving benefits.

Key Takeaways

If you are not yet using automation in your accounting practices, it's never too late to get started. With intuitive features, enhanced data, and digital workflow processes, Accounts Payable automation software is a smart choice for growing businesses

While automation shouldn't replace the work of highly trained accounting professionals, it does have its rightful place in an industry that continues to develop advanced, cloud-based technologies. A payable solution may be the perfect choice for businesses that want to control cash flow, reduce administrative burden, and integrate procedures with powerful digital tools. 

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