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Top 7 Accounts Payable Software in 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

November 15, 2023

5

Processing bills is the most difficult part of procurement. 

Bill payments are often mistakenly duplicated, goods aren’t received as per purchase orders, or there are delays in the approval workflow. 

An accounts payable software makes the process hassle-free by automating approvals and payments and giving more visibility and control over your accounts payable (AP). It also enhances reconciliation and improves vendor relationships. 

While the core job to be done by an AP manager is to ensure good vendor relationships, manage between timely payments & cash flow, ensure compliance in payments, what you need is a solution that supports your organization’s finances in one place and ends the chaotic back and forth. 

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What is Accounts payable software?

Accounts payable (AP) software is a tool that helps businesses automate invoice and vendor payments via a centralized platform. An accounts payable automation software brings together all the key information into a single source of truth and enables teams to do the following:

  • Tracks bills and their statuses to avoid double payments
  • Enables two-way and three-way goods received note (GRN) & PO matching 
  • Supports customizable approval workflows for complete visibility
  • Supports local and international payments via various payment methods

Thus, AP software simplifies the payment processes and reduces unnecessary friction between finance, procurement & other teams. 

Top 7 accounts payable software in 2024

Here are the top 7 AP platforms for businesses. 

Based on your company size and needs, you can pick one of these to support your accounts payable.

1. Pluto

Accounts payable software by Pluto

Pluto is an accounts payable software that transforms your AP processes by simplifying bill processing. From enabling GRN matching to setting fully customizable multi-layer approval workflows, it is the best accounts payable solution to manage your vendor payments and relationships. 

Key features:

  • Facilitates three-way GRN matching with purchase orders and item-based matching
  • Consolidates approved invoices in a single window to highlight pending bills and avoid delays
  • Offers a flexible approval engine capable of managing intricate hierarchies without requiring technical expertise
  • Enables multi-layer invoice approvals with policies to align with your company's structure
  • Ability to upload invoices easily via WhatsApp images and emails directly to speed up the receipt capture process
  • A centralized dashboard to gather bills in one place and track the status to avoid double payments
  • Vendor-specific corporate cards to control budgets and detect irrelevant expenses
  • Enables creation of a preferred vendors list for quick payments 
  • Supports local and international wire transfers to make payments 
  • OCR technology minimizes manual data entry by creating and populating bills from invoices
  • Supports ERP integration to synchronize your vendors, POs, and bills and integrates with accounting software such as Oracle, NetSuite, Zoho, Quickbooks, Wafeq, Xero, etc.
  • Raises alerts for upcoming payments, enables scheduling payments in advance and automates invoices 
  • Provides a complete audit trail of the process to ensure visibility at each step
  • Shows real-time analytics to facilitate deep insights for supporting budget control

Pricing:

Request the sales team for a custom quote.

Pros:

  • Enables branch- and subsidiary-level spend tracking (not offered by other platforms)
  • Offers up to 2% cashback on all non-AED transactions 
  • Independent PCI DSS Level 1 certification
  • SSO/SAML Capabilities for Enterprises
  • Integrates with Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics
  • Better Forex rates than most local banks 
  • Multiple integration options

Cons:

  • Integrates with all other major ERPs except Tally
  • Slightly longer on-boarding due to corporate card offering 

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2. Tipalti

Accounts payable solution by Tipalti

Tipalti is an automation tool that supports end-to-end AP processes. It helps you streamline accounts payables and make global payments in local currencies for various recipients, from suppliers to freelancers. The cloud-based platform helps finance teams manage payments without losing visibility and control. 

Key features:

  • Supports supplier onboarding and vetting to ensure supplier reliability and trustworthiness
  • Integrates with ERP and accounting systems to help with reconciliation reporting
  • Uses OCR to scan, capture, match, and process invoice data to reduce manual errors
  • Provides built-in approval workflows and payment scheduling 
  • Offers invoice processing, including two-way and three-way PO matching and approval to avoid overpayments
  • Assists AP processes for subsidiaries and entities

Pricing:

Starts at $129 per month per user for the platform fee and charges for additional features separately.

Pros:

  • Can manage supplier bank account details in a secure environment

Cons:

  • Cannot use it for prepayment invoices on inventory purchases with the ERP system
  • High foreign currency exchange fees
  • Tax forms can be difficult to fill out and very difficult if you do not speak English

3. Airbase

AP solution by Airbase

Airbase is an automation solution for managing global AP processes. It focuses on ensuring compliance and syncing with your accounting tool to streamline the payment process. 

Key features: 

  • Offers OCR to populate details, including general ledger (GL) category, date, amount, and purpose
  • Supports onboarding with a self-service vendor portal and custom questionnaires
  • Has a centralized dashboard with all key information about the invoice to avoid friction 
  • Accepts invoices from email or vendor portal across all subsidiaries
  • Offers automated approval workflows based on multiple parameters, such as vendor, amount, GL category, etc.
  • Enables three-way invoice matching to ensure compliance and reduce wasted spend
  • Facilitates payments and approvals, including multi-subsidiary support, international currency, and real-time GL sync
  • Real-time audit trail with receipts, notes, and documentation for transparency

Pricing: Request a custom quote.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and easy to use; no training or previous knowledge required
  • Seamless approval workflows

Cons:

  • The mobile app is slow and takes time to load pages 
  • SSO-based login is not smooth
  • Not suitable for complex branch-level approvals and expenses

4. Ramp

Ramp's Accounts payable platform

Ramp is an accounts payable solution designed to manage payments and business expenses. It automates bill entries, approvals, and payments while offering complete visibility and control. By tracking each AP step from data recording to approvals, it simplifies payment processing and takes the burden off teams. 

Key features:

  • Uses AI to automatically extract key details from invoices to offer accuracy and eliminate data-entry errors
  • Identifies duplicate invoices and helps with two-way matching to purchase orders
  • Offers custom approval workflows to minimize errors and ensure timely payments 
  • Provides a unified dashboard with visibility into the status of invoices
  • Consolidates multiple payment options, such as check, card, same-day ACH, or international wire
  • Integrates with accounting solutions, such as QuickBooks, Xero, Oracle NetSuite, Sage, etc. for auto-sync bill pay transactions
  • Supports international payment processing in multiple currencies 
  • Tracks vendor data and transactions for easy reporting and data-driven decisions

Pricing:

Three pricing packages—free or basic features, $15 per user per month for Ramp Plus, and custom quote for enterprises with features like enterprise ERP integration, custom implementation, and local card issuance. 

Pros:

  • Works with multiple subsidiaries
  • Offers cash back on credit card purchases made using VISA cards

Cons:

  • Can’t unmatch an incorrectly matched invoice (invoice to credit card)
  • Approval routing can only be set on the vendor level, not department level
  • Limitations in syncing repayments

5. Bill

Accounts payable software by Bill

Bill is a spend management solution for SMBs to control payables, receivables, expenses, and all corporate expenses. It allows businesses to streamline scattered AP processes into a single platform and gain more control over their finances. 

Key features:

  • Enables tailored approval processes to facilitate approvals with minimal hassle
  • Automates purchase order workflows with the option for automated two-way and three-way matching
  • Simplifies expense reconciliation through quick coding and integration with accounting systems
  • Automates receipt matching, categorization, and expense reporting, decreasing administrative tasks
  • Syncs with all major accounting systems like QuickBooks, Sage, Intacct, and NetSuite
  • OCR auto-populates invoices for data entry
  • Provides bulk payments of approved invoices with payment choices, such as ACH, credit cards, checks, and international wire transfers
  • Offers audit trail of any changes or actions related to the invoice on a single page

Pricing: Provides a free trial and essentials pack starting at $45 for six standard user roles. Its team and corporate pack are for $55 and $79, respectively. Enterprises need to request a custom quote.

Pros:

  • One-click swift payments
  • Minimum training required
  • Easy-to-use mobile app

Cons:

  • Customer support is difficult to initiate, slow, and unresponsive
  • Frequent changes in the interface create confusion for users
  • Limited customization options for reporting 

6. Melio

AP Software by Melio

Melio is a bill payment tool that enables businesses to pay via bank transfer and debit cards. Even when the vendor accepts only checks, it pays checks on your behalf to facilitate bill processing. It processes payments and issues checks without the payee having to use the platform. It is a tool suitable for small businesses to process payments without hassle. 

Key features:

  • Enables payments via credit card even when the vendor doesn’t accept the card to support deferred payments
  • Allows inviting additional users (such as accountants) to set up roles and permissions and manage approvals easily
  • Supports two-way sync with QuickBooks and Xero
  • Facilitates bulk payments and split payments (splitting bills into multiple payments) 
  • Offers international payments across the border 
  • Raises duplicate payment alerts to assist in fraud detection

Pricing:

Free to process ACH payments to vendors; charges a fee for other payment modes (check Melio pricing)

Pros:

  • Offers a free-to-use payment module (only with QuickBook)

Cons:

  • Lack of integration with accounting software
  • Turnaround time on a check is three business days 
  • Support is very limited
  • Limits payments to two checks per month 

7. Spendesk

Spendesk: Accounts payable platform

Spendesk automates the AP process by bringing together purchase orders and invoices to facilitate budgets, payments, and approvals. It creates a single source of truth to cut hours of manual work and detect errors better. It is a cloud-based software that improves budget control and financial reporting. 

Key features:

  • Offers a centralized platform for tracking payments right from the purchase order stage 
  • Supports invoice capture via email and image/file upload
  • Uses OCR to extract key information from the invoice, such as supplier name, amount, dates, and purchase details
  • Enables budget changes in real time without a manual data-entry system
  • Allows scheduling of payments and matching of purchase orders with the invoice for effective GRN matching
  • Provides customizable and built-in approval workflows and controls to monitor spending 
  • Raises alerts for duplicate invoices to enable teams to avoid overpayments and defect frauds

Pricing:

Request a custom quote.

Pros:

  • Super convenient for ad-hoc expenses 
  • Intuitive and interactive interface
  • Easy manual upload in case OCR doesn’t support receipt capture  

Cons: 

  • Glitchy virtual card payments with delayed notifications and declined transactions
  • OCR-based receipt capture only works for emails
  • Basic features like memorizing accounting patterns for vendors are only available in the paid module

What are the benefits of accounts payable software?

Adopting AP software helps you in the following ways: 

  • Gives real-time visibility into the status of invoices and payments
  • Provides insights into spending patterns, vendor performance, etc.
  • Streamlines payment and approval workflows, leading to smoother payment processes and vendor relationships

How to choose a good accounts payable Software

Ease of use

The AP software must be flexible to accommodate complex hierarchies without making it difficult to follow the workflows. It should offer trigger-based workflows and a clean user interface. Your team shouldn’t struggle to learn how to use the product and rely on the support team to get basic invoices cleared. 

Multiple payment options

From local transactions to international wire transfers and other digital payment options, AP software must support multiple payment options. It becomes easier with vendor-specific cards that make payments safe and fast. Pluto helps you set up vendor-specific cards, even for public relations officers. This is something most platforms on the market do not support.

Accurate data capture

AP software with OCR capabilities makes invoice processing faster and reduces errors. The ability to process invoices from different platforms and sources, such as emails, Slack, and WhatsApp, is required. Moreover, moving these captured invoices into the centralized database and syncing with accounting software eliminates the manual data entry task.

Approval workflow

Approval workflows are key for timely and accurate payments. An AP software must have a simple no-code workflow builder, even for complex hierarchies. This is especially useful for large organizations where this process can be intricate and long. 

Integration

Vendor payments need to be recorded across accounting systems for effective reconciliation. The AP software must integrate with your accounting systems and platforms to automate data entry and facilitate a synchronized record-keeping system.

Centralized dashboard

The AP software should offer a dedicated dashboard with all the key information such as vendor, invoice number, status, description, etc. Also, it must give a separate centralized view for expense tracking. This gives you visibility into where you spend the most and helps you optimize resource allocation. 

Supports GRN matching

The AP software interface must be designed in such a way that it supports GRN matching, both two-way and three-way matching. Be it in the form of OCR invoice capture or offering item-based matching capabilities. This will avoid any under- or over-payments and support a healthy vendor relationship. Also, this eliminates complications in the reconciliation process.   

Reporting 

Reporting capabilities of AP software help to identify the spending patterns and other key insights related to department-specific expenses, budgeting, etc. Hence, AP software must provide a dedicated reporting dashboard with the option to export the reports for enhanced analytics and reporting. 

Transforming Accounts Payable with the Right Software

Accounts payable is not just about clearing bills and vendor payments. It is the basis for vendor relationship management and proper order in financial processes. From getting approvals to matching GRN, you need software that offers ease of use with the right blend of functionality. 

Too complex of a product will leave your employees confused, leading to double work. Lack of customization will have teams work harder to adopt the product. Limited integration will have the accounting department working twice as much on data entry and syncing. 

Make the right decision and choose software that gives you control, customization, security and speed, all while embracing automation capabilities. 

Book a demo and discover how a simple automation tool transforms your AP process.

Disclaimer: The comparisons and rankings of accounts payable software competitors in this article are based primarily on reviews found online. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, these reviews are subjective and reflect the opinions of the users who posted them. The information presented is intended for general informational purposes and should not be considered as a definitive guide for choosing a software provider. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and consider their specific needs before making a decision.

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Spend Management
January 12, 2023

Vlad Falin

How To Manage Your Company Spending In 2024?

When it comes to growing a business, many executives focus on increasing profits and growing revenue as the way to achieve their goals. 

However, one aspect of growth that is sometimes overlooked is the expense management of your organization, and how to make it more efficient.

Without proper spend management strategies, your efforts to grow the company revenue could be easily sabotaged by overstuffed budgets, inefficient spending, and a lack of expense tracking that hurts your bottom-line when tax season comes around.

That’s why this article will discuss the importance of managing your company spending, and how to do it efficiently!

The Importance Of Company Spending Management

Business spend management is a combination of strategies and business tools used to track, analyze, and manage business spending, in particular in regard to supplier relationships. 

When companies are unable to track and control their spending in real-time, they may expose themselves to financial leaks and lose revenue in the long run. 

The majority of a company's costs come from external expenditures, which account for 40-80% of its total costs. A lack of efficient spend management can have disastrous effects on your business; the statistics speak for themselves.

As a result, businesses that understand and wish to mitigate this risk need to use spend management software to do the heavy lifting. Not only does the software offer cost-saving opportunities, but it also prevents overspending.

A spend management solution becomes particularly crucial when it comes to tax reporting, as the expense documenting process simplifies the tax reporting, which makes it easier to receive tax breaks and avoid hefty penalties.

For the United Arab Emirates region, corporate income tax (or CT for short) will be applied to business activities starting on the 1st of June 2023. You’ll be charged 9% for taxable income exceeding AED 375,000, but 0% if your annual taxable income falls below that threshold. As such, keeping track of your expenses and managing spending will be even more important than ever.

Benefits of Expense Management

The importance of spending management is not limited to enterprises with large expenses, but also to small and medium-sized businesses looking to improve profitability, scalability, and sustainability. 

There are several benefits to spend management automation, regardless of your business size. These benefits include:

An in-depth analysis of all spending

Saving money for your business requires analyzing all aspects of it in order to find cost-cutting opportunities or other areas of improvement. 

Pluto gives you a general overview of your operations in terms of costs, as well as an in-depth analysis of your spending, making it much easier to find what you are looking for.

Maintaining an efficient budget

When it comes to proper spend management, your budget is crucial. But building a proper budget requires that you have both an eagle-eye view of your business, as well as attention to the smaller details. This is made much easier through the use of spend management software.

Control over company spending in real time

It’s much harder to make efficient decisions about your spending when you are basing them on data that is already outdated. 

With Pluto, you’ll be working with real-time data to ensure your decisions are based on current information.

An easier time identifying and eliminating out-of-policy and fraudulent expenditures

It’s harder to reduce out-of-policy spending when you can’t track it effectively. Pluto will help you automatically detect fraudulent and out-of-policy employee expenses and alert you to them.

Payables can be tracked and processed easily

If you are managing your expenses properly and using the right account payable software to do so, you won’t have an issue keeping track of your payables, as well as have a better overview of your spending.

Better negotiations with your suppliers

You can make better decisions when it comes to your supply contracts and purchases when you have real-time data of your expenses.

Using Pluto's unified spend management dashboard, finance teams can always see where money flows. Pluto's procurement software enhances the visibility of financial transactions, enabling more informed decision-making for procurement and sourcing processes.

Budgeting is the key to delivering on your promises, growing your team, enhancing your product offerings, and weathering inevitable economic downturns.

The Problem with a Manual Spend Management Process

Trying to manage business spending without proper oversight and strategies in place is like putting all your home expenses on a credit card without checking the statement every month. You might not know what you are facing until it’s too late. 

If you don't implement intentional spend controls, you may still be profitable, but you won't know when your situation will change or how close you are to the edge. 

The importance of spend control becomes more obvious to companies, especially growing ones, after they face a tight situation or a disruption to their business. As a result of these problems, businesses can experience budget overruns, erratic cash flows, supply chain management issues, and deteriorating customer relations. 

But traditional spend management techniques are limited, which is where the aid of software comes into place. If you limit yourself to manual spend management strategies, you might face the following issues:

  • Outdated spending reports: Traditional methods of managing spend tend to produce spending data that is at least a month old. As a result, finance teams have difficulty identifying and correcting unnecessary spending before the damage is done. 
  • Overspending: Overspending and budget noncompliance are a consequence of finance teams being unable to track real-time spend. Costs like these can quickly add up to cause trouble for tax authorities as well as overspending. 
  • Inefficient strategies due to lack of real-time data: If you lack real-time data and work only based on reports that are outdated, you might be missing the forest for the trees. This could have the effect of optimizing your spending rather than improving your overall business process efficiency. In order to cut costs and optimize operations, real-time spend data is essential. 
  • Manual entry errors: Data entry errors skyrocket if your finance team has to move data between multiple software programs and map employee spending manually. As a result, financial reporting could be delayed. 
  • Issues with remote working and compliance: Employees who work remotely need to pay for other business expenses quickly and in accordance with compliance requirements. The traditional spend management system, with its shared corporate cards and lengthy approval processes, simply cannot keep up.
  • Strained resources: It takes finance teams a long time to manually align expenditures to budgets after the expenditures have been made. This takes up many productive hours and, of course, can lead to errors when entering data. 

How To Manage Company Spending

Managing your company spending is both a science and an art, but much more the former than the latter. 

Each business will have its own unique challenges to overcome when it comes to spending, but there’s still general strategies you can adopt that will fit most situations.

Create a Budget that Accounts for the Future

When it comes to budgeting, you shouldn’t just think about the expenses in front of you, you also have to consider potential unexpected expenses. 

If you limit yourself to budgeting for the present, you’ll have a hard time dealing with expenses that can pop up out of nowhere.

Your budget should be realistic, but also reviewed frequently to ensure it is still appropriate for your business as it grows and evolves. 

Creating a good budget will require that you examine your current and past expenses, take a look at your spending habits, and consider your potential expenses as your business grows. 

This will give you an opportunity to review your existing processes, expense policies, and track expenses that you might not be thinking about.

Use Zero-Based Budgeting

It’s not uncommon for organizations to focus on past expenses and budgets when creating a new one. 

However, businesses and the environments around them change, and so budgets need to change as well. 

That is where zero-based budgeting comes in. This technique creates a new budget from scratch for each budgeting period. The budget is then compared to past budgets and weighed against current expenses.

In a company, zero-based budgeting can be used to keep your expenses under control. Your budget needs to be a living breathing element of your operation, and as such you need to constantly evaluate it to find realistic cost-cutting opportunities and areas that can be made more efficient when it comes to expenses.

Report and Track Your Expenses

Any expenses incurred should be documented and filed as soon as possible. This way, your business expenses are accounted for when filing its tax return. This is one area where the use of spend management software becomes crucial, as it dramatically simplifies the process of reporting and tracking your expenses. Pluto helps to categorize said expenditure, further assisting you when it comes to tax season.

Use a Spend Management Platform to Automate Processes and Digitize Expenses

As your business grows, you’ll find that using a spend management tool to track your expenses saves you a lot of time and money. In addition to tracking expenses, it tends to offer many other features, such as the ability to track invoices, payments, and credits all in one place. 

Furthermore, Pluto gives you the ability to assess your expenses on the go, thanks to mobile apps and online dashboards.

It is easier to keep track of your expenses and receipts by digitizing them. Employees can do this by taking pictures of their receipts as soon as they receive them. These images can then be uploaded and tracked through Pluto.

Automating your approval workflows and processes will help to reduce, if not outright eliminate, human error.

Key Spend Management Software Features

Using spend management software is almost mandatory if you want to make your spend tracking and reporting as efficient as possible. 

When looking to choose a platform, consider the following features:

Complete Control Over Spending Data 

If your finance teams don’t have complete control over spending, real-time data cannot be of much use to your business. 

Pluto allows your business finance managers to streamline and automate processes with superior customizability and control over workflows. 

This freedom allows admins to change or optimize workflows as business/processes scale. 

Real-time and in-depth spend analytics

Managing company funds efficiently is the essence of spend management. In order to do that, you need to keep track of your employee expenses as they occur. 

Pluto records employee expenditures in real time and provides you with a reliable picture of what they are spending. 

You can control expenses by using real-time expense tracking without restricting your employees’ work.

Additionally, Pluto provides your finance team with insights and analytics based on all the data it gets. A feature like this is crucial for proper management, especially if your goal is to cut costs and optimize spending through automation. 

Your finance team will struggle to drive meaningful change without detailed analytics, requiring them to go through reams of data and make sense of it. 

Reports on expenses provide an overview of your expense history, making it easier to track down individual purchases. Maintaining accurate records, limiting expenditures, and avoiding fraud are all made easier with this functionality.

Easy to Use

The most advanced software in the world is worthless if no one wants to use it. Simplicity and ease of use of essential business software, such as spend management, should therefore be a priority. 

You might find, for instance, that employees don't use your spend management software if they find it clunky and difficult to use. This can result in a manual spend reporting process that is time-consuming and error-prone. 

A lot of time is spent by businesses storing and processing invoices, receipts, and purchase orders. 

Pluto makes it easy to retrieve and keep track of essential documents, including matching documents to authenticate transactions, for record keeping and due diligence.

An all-in-one platform

Your spend management platform should be a centralized solution for all your spending needs. Keeping all company spending in one place, in real time, is more efficient (and more secure) than using multiple smaller tools. 

Pluto has it all: 

- Unlimited virtual cards

- Efficient reimbursements

- Spend management platform

- Real-time analytics

- Real-time spend control

Essentially, anything that will allow you not only manage your expenses, but really take you spending under control and make sure that everything is at it's maximal eff

Key Takeaways

Managing your company spending is a crucial aspect of company growth that is sometimes overlooked. Proper spending management strategies can help you find cost-cutting opportunities, gain a better overview of the health of your business, and simplify your tax reporting to avoid penalties.

When it comes to developing effective spending management strategies, you should focus on creating a budget that can evolve with your organization, reporting and tracking your expenses in real time, and using a spend management platform to automate and simplify your expense tracking and reporting.

5
All
Guides
December 20, 2023

Vlad Falin

The Role of Accounts Payable Automation in Modern Accounting Practices

From receiving goods to clearing payments, it is not a single-click process. Multiple steps in between make the accounts payable process tedious and time-consuming.

You receive goods, match them with purchase orders and invoices, send the invoices for approval, make the payment, and finally, maintain records for bookkeeping. This process alone takes weeks and creates confusion when multiple stakeholders are involved.

Think about purchases above $50,000. There are multiple approvals, and each purchase triggers a unique workflow. Documents are not consolidated, and no one has a clear idea of the payment status. 

Thus, accounts payable become chaotic.

Can You Automate Accounts Payable?

To streamline your accounts payable process, you can use tools to automate it. This will simplify bill payments and give you more visibility and control over money.

While it will take time for stakeholders and employees to embrace automation, you can consolidate your scattered pieces on a centralized platform. If you are looking for suitable AP automation tools for your company, check out our list of the top accounts payable automation software.

This post will delve deeper into how you can automate the accounts payable process and how it will help your business. 

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What is the Accounts Payable Automation Process?

Accounts payable automation uses tools to automate invoice verification, approval workflow, payment processing, and bookkeeping. 

Instead of manually organizing, matching, approving, and clearing invoices, the entire process goes on a digital platform to provide visibility and control at each step. So, earlier, employees would spend hours getting approvals and days clearing payments, but now, an automation tool reduces the invoice processing time. 

Account Payable automation process

The platform captures and extracts the invoice from emails via optical character recognition (OCR). The invoice goes to the platform with all the critical information, such as purchase order and simplifies three-way matching. A trigger-based approval workflow notifies the stakeholders to approve invoices. The admin gets complete visibility of each step and clears the payment without going through a variety of software. 

How to Automate Accounts Payable

Automating accounts payable is as simple as choosing and integrating the right automation software with your existing accounting and procurement software.  

The automation software offers visibility into where the money is going and control over the entire process. You can customize the approval workflows and payment gateways and create an ecosystem that supports your procurement process. You can accommodate manual processes and integrate them with other software without going through a complete flip.

With the right automation software, you bring all the critical stages of accounts payable on a centralized platform. Here are the five key steps you can automate:

1. Invoice Management

Invoice Management

Manual: The vendor sends an invoice to a dedicated email or a physical copy via fax or mail. The employee receives it and moves from one stakeholder to another for approval. The process is delayed for days if any manager is unavailable. Once the approval is complete, all the documents go to the accounting team, who clears the payment. 

Automated: Depending on how the vendor sends the invoice, the automation platform captures the invoice from email or WhatsApp. If you receive a physical invoice, you can upload the invoice, and the system extracts all the vital information via OCR. There's no need to manually enter details or add a general ledger (GL) and taxation code. The system captures, extracts, and consolidates all the invoices.

2. GRN Matching

GRN matching

Manual: The dedicated team receives goods along with the goods receipt note (GRN) and must match it with the invoice and purchase order. This ensures that the specified goods are received as per the purchase order. Manually, this process is prone to errors, leading to discrepancies. It demands accuracy to ensure you receive the correct items in specified quantities. 

Automated: Automated software makes this easy by combining all the relevant documents on a single platform. The dedicated team has the invoice and purchase order side by side, making it easy to compare items, purchase orders, and invoices for three-way matching. As a result, spotting discrepancies becomes more manageable, reducing the chances of errors.

3. Approval Workflow

Approval Workflow

Manual: Once the invoice is received, the employee gets it approved by dedicated managers. Based on the invoice amount, they need more than a single approval. Manually, this means going from one office to another or delving into long threads of email or Slack conversations. It becomes difficult for accounting teams to track approval and clear payments. 

Automated: With automated software, each invoice triggers an approval workflow for relevant stakeholders to approve the payments. The admin can create custom no-code workflows based on different if-then rules. For instance, marketing purchases above $50,000 will have more approvals than expenses of $5,000. Also, all the relevant teams will have visibility into the approval status, making it easier to clear payments on time without confusion.

4. Payment Processing

Payment Processing

Manual: Once the invoice is approved, the accounting team determines the details and pays via checks, cards, or other payment methods. It takes a few days before the payment is cleared, and the teams need to sync all the information across the accounting software for reconciliation.

Automated: With automation, accounting teams and employees enjoy more flexibility. For instance, Pluto offers corporate cards, payment gateway integration, and a digitization platform for bookkeeping.

  • With corporate cards, you can create custom vendor-specific cards with advanced controls to ensure payments are made only for approved vendors.
  • Pluto integrates directly with your payment gateways to facilitate payment within the platform. 
  • If you make payments via checks or other physical modes, Pluto will act as a digital bookkeeping platform. You can enter the payments made on the centralized platform and ensure that all the information is streamlined. 

 

5. Reconciliation

Reconciliation

Manual: Reconciliation is the messiest part of accounts payable. Teams must maintain records, manually enter all the details, and sync them across the accounting platforms and ERPs. It is time-consuming, prone to errors, and tricky in case of purchases where one invoice invites multiple tax and GL codes.   

Automated: Automation consolidates all the information on a single platform without manual data entry. It uses OCR to extract all the critical information with a feature to upload the invoices in bulk. Further, you can split the transactions to add multiple tax and GL codes to address the audit season rush.

How Accounts Payable Automation Simplifies the Procurement Process

Accounts payable automation is not just for the procurement or the accounting department. It also makes it easier for stakeholders to approve the payments and employees to get timely resources.

Procurement Process

Source

Overall, it assists you in bringing together scattered parts of the procurement process. Here are reasons why you must invest in accounts payable automation:

1. Improve Compliance

You get complete visibility and control over your accounts payable. You can create custom workflows to ensure that any purchase that goes against the company policy is rejected. You can also accommodate intricate hierarchies to suit your organization's needs and get timely approvals.

2. Avoid Double Payments

It is usual for teams to end up paying the same invoice twice as no one has visibility into the payment status. It happens when the same invoice is paid twice by different team members or when vendors send the same invoice twice, and both get paid. You can avoid this as the software detects duplicate invoices and gives visibility into the status of invoices. The main dashboard highlights the pending invoices and the ones awaiting approval. It becomes easy to stay on top of all the invoices and avoid errors.

3. Faster Approvals and Matching

Faster Approvals and Matching

You get a trigger-based no-code approval workflow engine where you can create customized workflows to accommodate intricate hierarchies. The software notifies the stakeholders to review and approve the invoices. Since all the information is available on a single dashboard, two-way or three-way matching is a matter of a few minutes. This accelerates the approval process, and payments are disbursed much faster. It improves the vendor relationship without risking over, under, or delayed payments.

4. Better Reconciliation

You get all the relevant documents consolidated on a single platform with the appropriate purchase. Additionally, the software automates the coding and categorization, simplifying the reconciliation process. In case of discrepancies, spotting errors becomes easy. Moreover, with features like locking the approved payments and restricted access for auditing, you can eliminate the chances of fraud or manipulation.

5. Accuracy

You improve the accuracy of your records and GRN matching with all the information streamlined on a single platform. Moreover, as the software relies on OCR, you eliminate the need for manual data entry, reducing the chances of errors. Also, you can integrate the automation software with your accounting platform and ERPs to sync data and ensure consistency across the platforms. 

6. Centralized Dashboard

Centralized Dashboard

You get a centralized dashboard with all the key information available in a unified place, acting as a single source of truth. Additionally, you get insights that can help in data-driven decision-making to facilitate procurement cost savings. Further, you can view all the awaiting payments and approvals on a dedicated dashboard. You no longer need to run from one platform to another for information as the software integrates with your accounting system.

7. Accessibility

The unavailability of a single person can create bottlenecks in the approval process and block the supply chain. With all the information streamlined on a single platform, each stakeholder can access relevant data for decision-making. So, whether the CEO is traveling or the CFO is not at the office, they can access the details from any corner of the world and avoid disruption in the supply chain.

8. Visibility

You get visibility for each step, each document, and each purchase. You can bring the entire procurement automation on a single platform and track the status in real time. Whether an employee raises a request, gets an invoice, or needs to clear payment, you will stay on top of the information without creating any delays or friction.

Automation is Easy With the Right Software

Adopting automation software isn’t easy, especially for critical processes like accounts payable, which also involve external stakeholders. The top three factors to look for in appropriate software are flexibility, visibility, and integration. 

Choose one that integrates with your existing processes and systems and is flexible enough to accommodate complex hierarchies. Instead of focusing solely on the accounting or procurement team, it should cater to all the key stakeholders and make automation easier to adopt. 

At Pluto, we aim to bring a balance among the spenders (employees), the savers (finance teams), and the sourcers (procurement teams). Each stakeholder gets visibility, and decision-makers get flexibility. Pluto integrates with your current system and enables you to automate accounts payable without affecting the supply chain. 

You can also automate your entire procurement process with Pluto and improve your bottom line. Read more in our procurement automation post.

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January 29, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

SaaS Procurement: How to Optimize SaaS Purchases and Streamline Workflow

One of your teams discovers a SaaS tool and makes a quick purchase using the company credit card, thinking this software solution will simplify processes and increase efficiency. It seems straightforward at this point—a hassle-free process.

However, this purchase workflow shadows the IT and legal departments. None of them are involved in the decision-making process. As a result, the chosen product never undergoes the risk assessment for security threats and legal regulations. What appears as an elementary and frictionless process becomes a breeding ground for chaos and potential operational disruptions.

This blog post is for procurement teams that wish to understand the SaaS procurement process and streamline the purchases for efficiency. We will discuss the challenges with the traditional approach and how you can overcome these to create a secure and cost-effective tech stack.

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What is SaaS Procurement?

SaaS procurement is the acquisition and management of cloud-based software solutions through a subscription model.

As a member of the procurement team, you assess organizational software needs, evaluate vendors, negotiate contracts, and oversee the entire lifecycle. You aim to ensure cost-effectiveness, compliance, and optimal performance of SaaS applications.

Challenges With Traditional SaaS Procurement Process 

The most significant loophole in traditional SaaS procurement processes is the lack of proper approval workflow. Employees purchase suitable SaaS tools by themselves based on self-assessment. While this approach is flexible and saves time, it leads to operational bottlenecks in the long run.

Here is an overview of what happens when the relevant stakeholders aren’t involved in the SaaS procurement process:

Absence of Procurement Team

When teams proceed without involving the procurement team, they introduce several challenges, impacting the following aspects:

  1. Cost-Optimization: Without a centralized team overseeing SaaS subscriptions, different departments independently select similar plans, leading to redundant expenses. For example, two teams might unknowingly invest in the same SaaS product for $ 12/month/user plans. However, when consolidated under an enterprise plan, they could get added security features more cost-efficiently.
  2. Vendor Management: Vendor management becomes fragmented without a procurement team, as various teams engage with multiple vendors independently. Hence, It becomes challenging to negotiate favorable terms, track performance, and ensure consistent service levels across the organization. This absence of centralized management hinders the organization's ability to leverage its purchasing power effectively.
  3. Inconsistent User Experiences: Different teams choose diverse tools for similar tasks, resulting in variations in workflows and collaboration. This lack of standardization hinders overall efficiency and employees' ability to work seamlessly across different projects.
  4. Renewal Management: The decentralized approach of SaaS procurement makes it challenging to track and manage subscription renewals effectively. Unintended renewals for underutilized or obsolete SaaS subscriptions ensue, leading to unnecessary costs and potential inefficiencies in resource allocation.

Absence of Legal Team

Legal professionals evaluate and ensure that the chosen SaaS solution adheres to data protection and privacy laws. Also, they help craft and review contracts to protect the enterprise’s interests.

The absence of legal scrutiny leads to inadequate safeguards, exposing sensitive information to security breaches. Moreover, without their input, contracts with SaaS vendors lack clarity, leaving room for misunderstandings, disputes, or unfavorable terms. There's a high risk of violating laws, regulations, or contractual obligations, leading to legal consequences and financial penalties.

Absence of IT Team (Also Known as Shadow IT)

IT professionals assess the security measures of SaaS products. The absence of IT involvement results in security compromise and operational inefficiencies. Let's say the sales team, without prior knowledge of the IT team, independently procures a SaaS product for inbound leads, integrating it swiftly into their workflow. This incident is also known as shadow IT.

But after a few weeks, a technical issue arises. Unaware of the product's existence, the IT department struggles to provide immediate support or resolve the issues promptly. It disrupts the sales team's workflow and raises broader concerns for the organization, exposing the company to potential data breaches or regulatory non-compliance. Moreover, fixing this issue involves potential legal ramifications and additional unplanned costs for IT intervention.

6-Step SaaS Procurement Process 

Each relevant stakeholder reviews and gets an overview of the purchase cycle — this is what a collaborative SaaS procurement process looks like.

1. Identify Need

saas procurement summary

This step involves identifying the specific software needs of the organization. Departments communicate their requirements to ensure the chosen SaaS solution aligns with overall business objectives. They fill out custom forms that become the procurement team's base to select the right vendor. 

2. Vendor Selection

The procurement team researches and evaluates various SaaS vendors to find a solution that meets the identified needs. At this stage, it aims to find the best vendor that offers functionality and security at reasonable pricing. Factors such as vendor reputation, integration capabilities, and contractual flexibility shape the selection process.

3. Approval Process

Relevant stakeholders, including IT, legal, and finance, review the selected vendor and approve the procurement. This collaborative approach ensures that the desired SaaS solution complies with legal standards, aligns with IT strategy, and fits within the budget.

However, this collaborative approach can quickly become a root cause for internal resentment if you don’t lay out proper approval workflows. A lack of workflow makes departments wait for weeks, while none of the stakeholders has visibility over the process. There is unnecessary back-and-forth communication, and eventually, teams move to the traditional, flexible, yet risky SaaS procurement process.

saas purchase request

If delays and friction in approval workflows disrupt your SaaS procurement process, centralized SaaS procurement software helps teams collaborate with minimal friction.

You can create proper approval workflows that define who needs to approve what. You get a no-code workflow builder, where you add if-then rules and make the desired workflow. You can have multiple workflows for different kinds of purchases, including parallel approvals as well.

For instance, a purchase request goes to the line manager, then the finance team, and after that, for a combined legal and IT review. You can have intricate workflows as required to suit your hierarchical structures.

 

purchase request details

With proper workflows laid out in a procurement automation platform, you simplify approvals. Moreover, a centralized dashboard makes it easier for each stakeholder to get an overview of the process without getting stuck in long email threads. 

4. Purchase and Deployment 

After approval, the procurement team finalizes contractual agreements with the chosen SaaS vendor. They negotiate on pricing models, licensing terms, and any customization requirements unique to the enterprise's needs.

Also, the procurement team ensures that the purchase aligns with the organization's budgetary constraints and financial policies. This step involves securing the best possible pricing and managing payment structures through one-time transactions or recurring subscription models. Further, the procurement team develops and finalizes contractual agreements with the vendor. This step involves clarifying terms and conditions, specifying service-level agreements, and addressing legal or compliance-related aspects.

With the procurement formalities completed, the deployment phase starts. Firstly, the SaaS solution has to be configured to align with the specific needs and processes of the company. This step ensures that the SaaS solution seamlessly fits within the organizational framework.

Secondly, the deployment team collaborates with IT and relevant departments to ensure that the SaaS tool integrates effectively with other applications to have a unified data ecosystem. Moreover, they establish and maintain robust access controls by defining user roles, permissions, and authentication mechanisms to safeguard sensitive data and maintain compliance.

5. Onboarding and Training

Once deployed, the onboarding and training phase ensures employees use the new SaaS tool effectively. This step is crucial for optimizing usage and ensuring that the software contributes to increased productivity. 

Training sessions, documentation, and support materials are provided to familiarize end-users with the features and functionalities. This step minimizes the learning curve and maximizes user adoption.

6. Monitor and Renew

Once users are onboarded and the SaaS solution is integrated into the organization's workflow, the focus shifts to post-onboarding and ongoing management. This stage involves the following:

  • Encouraging ongoing user engagement and collecting feedback, where regular communication channels help gather insights into user experiences and identify areas for improvement.
  • Monitoring the SaaS solution's performance to identify and address issues promptly. The IT and support teams collaborate to resolve technical glitches, ensuring uninterrupted functionality and a positive user experience.
  • Assessing functionality, user satisfaction, and alignment with business objectives to make renewal decisions. Simultaneously, compliance with legal and regulatory standards remains a significant consideration to avoid potential risks.

Collaborative Effort for Efficient SaaS Procurement

While SaaS procurement seems like a small piece of the puzzle, choosing and implementing it requires attention to detail to avoid operational and financial shocks. Each team needs to work together and help create a secure and cost-effective tech stack for the organization. 

However, collaborative efforts demand a centralized platform to overcome two core challenges — delay and friction. We have shared the top nine procure-to-pay software for enterprises for you to find solutions that transform the SaaS procurement process.