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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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5
All
Procurement
December 4, 2023

Mohammed Ridwan

Top 7 Accounts Payable Automation Software

An invoice has landed in your inbox. As soon as it arrived, a team member cleared the payment. Later, when another team member came across it, they made the payment again. This is a common scenario of duplicate payments that results in cash leakage. Invoices are not consolidated. There is no proper approval workflow, and stakeholders lack visibility. 

Overall, managing accounts payable (AP) becomes a nightmare. 

An automation tool solves these bottlenecks and provides a centralized platform for invoice management and accounts payable. An accounts payable automation software automates invoice capture and retrieval to consolidate all the information on a unified platform. You get real-time visibility and control over your payables. 

As a result, you establish better vendor relationships and supply chain management without impacting cash flows.

This post will cover 7 AP automation software to help you choose the right automation partner.  

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Top 7 accounts payable automation software 

Here are the top 7 AP automation software. You can pick one of these to automate your accounts payable based on your company size and needs.

1. Pluto

account payable automation 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 AP automation software to manage your vendor payments. 

Key Features:

  • Facilitates three-way GRN matching with purchase orders and item-based matching
  • 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 to speed up the receipt capture process
  • Facilitates optical character recognition (OCR) technology to retrieve invoice information, including tax and general ledger (GL) codes
  • Offers a centralized dashboard to gather bills in one place and track the status to avoid double payments
  • Consolidates approved invoices in a single window to highlight pending bills and avoid delays
  • Raises alerts for upcoming payments, enables scheduling payments in advance and automates invoices 
  • Allows you to seamlessly carry out bulk local and international wire transfers for easy payment clearing through their treasury partners.
  • Enables you to split payments for different tax and GL codes, departments, etc. 
  • Provides vendor-specific corporate cards to control budgets and detect irrelevant expenses
  • Supports ERP integration to synchronize your vendors, purchase orders, and bills
  • Integrates with accounting software such as Oracle, NetSuite, Zoho, Quickbooks, Wafeq, Xero, etc.
  • 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: 

Free to get started 

Pros:

  • Free to get started!
  • 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 for advanced security
  • SSO/SAML Capabilities for Enterprises
  • Better Forex rates than most local banks 

Cons:

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

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2. Tipalti

AP automation software by tipalti

Tipalti is an automation tool that supports end-to-end AP processes. It streamlines accounts payables and facilitates 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 purchase order 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 automation platform by Airbase

Airbase manages global AP processes. It focuses on ensuring compliance and syncing with your accounting tool to streamline payment. It is an automation solution for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises with 100-5,000 employees.

Key Features: 

  • Offers OCR to populate details, including 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
  • 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

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 AP automation solution

Ramp is an accounts payable solution for managing 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 artificial intelligence (AI) to 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 the department level
  • Limitations in syncing repayments

5. Bill

Accounts payable automation tool by Bill

Bill is an accounts payable 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 custom approval workflows for minimal hassle
  • Automates purchase order workflows with the option for automated two-way and three-way matching
  • 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

6. Procurify

Procurify's AP automation software

Procurify streamlines AP reconciliation, offering a straightforward solution for financial operations. From catalog management to custom user controls, it helps to track the procurement process in real time. Its no-code configuration allows for a prompt deployment in under six weeks, making it a suitable choice for mid-market to enterprise organizations.

Key Features:

  • Creates, tracks, and maintains an audit trail of all procurement transactions for transparency and compliance
  • Ensures that requested items are approved against budgets before procurement
  • Integrates with trusted vendors through punchout catalogs to streamline the ordering process
  • Syncs bills and completes bill payments directly with platforms like QuickBooks Online, NetSuite, and other major accounting systems
  • Supports OCR  technology to extract data from invoices

Pricing: 

Starts at $2000/month with a custom pricing tier

Pros:

  • Ability to upload different invoices in the same PO and group invoices

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer payment services, so you need to carry out payments on a different platform
  • Physical inventory has to be tracked outside Procurify

7. ZipHq

Accounts payable automation by ZipHQ

Ziphq is an end-to-end procure to pay software designed to streamline the entire procurement process, from purchase order to payment. It caters to businesses of all sizes — startups, mid-size companies, and enterprises with no-code configuration and deployment in under six weeks.

Key Features:

  • Offers vendor cards to automate recurring and one-time payments
  • Centralizes purchasing workflows, providing real-time visibility into the AP process
  • Facilitates automatic purchase order matching, ensuring invoice accuracy and timely payments
  • Provides automated, no-code workflows, referencing all stakeholders in the approval chain
  • Allows employees to comment on invoices and tag stakeholders, ensuring everyone has the context and visibility needed
  • Automates renewal planning with workflows initiated well ahead of deadlines, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions
  • Supports vendor payments in 140+ countries and 40+ currencies
  • Integrates with ERP, ensuring quick and easy reconciliation, even for complex, multi-subsidiary operations

Pricing: 

Request a demo quote

Pros:

  • Provides various customization options to configure internal processes

Cons:

  • Localized to the USA market
  • Takes over five days to settle vendor payments 
  • Can’t bulk upload documents

How to choose the right accounts payable automation software?

User-friendliness

Select software that is adaptable and user-friendly, with intuitive trigger-based workflows and a clean interface, ensuring ease of use without excessive reliance on support for basic tasks.

Versatile payment capabilities

Choose a solution that supports a broad spectrum of payment methods, including the ability to issue vendor-specific cards for secure and speedy payments, a feature not commonly found in many platforms.

Accurate Invoice Processing

Opt for software with OCR technology to enhance invoice processing speed and accuracy, capable of handling invoices from various sources and integrating them into a centralized database for reduced manual entry.

Efficient Approval Workflows

The software should include a straightforward, no-code workflow builder that can handle complex hierarchies, essential for large organizations with intricate approval processes.

Seamless System Integration

Ensure the software integrates well with existing accounting systems to automate data entry and maintain synchronized records, which is crucial for effective financial management.

Advanced Reporting Features

Reporting functionality that offers insights into spending patterns and department-specific expenditures is vital. The software should provide a robust reporting dashboard with options for deeper analytics.

Choosing the right accounts payable automation software 

Implementing accounts payable software will support your procurement process only when you carefully pick an option that provides flexibility, visibility, and security without losing on functionality. 

Imagine software that makes it easy to clear payments but doesn’t settle payments for days on the vendor’s end. Contrarily, consider an option your legal or IT team is skeptical of implementing. 

That is why, at Pluto, we focus on simplifying processes and cutting all the chaos without risking security, flexibility, or functionality. We simplify accounts payable by syncing with your payment gateways for faster payments at better forex rates than banks. You get a PCI DSS Level 1 certified solution that provides you with bank-grade security. 

So, book a demo and learn more about how you can optimize your entire procurement process.

5
All
Spend Management
November 12, 2022

Leen Shami

Expense Management; Definition, Types & Tips

Effective expense management is a critical aspect of any organization's financial health, ensuring smooth operation through controlled employee spending. Employees frequently incur various business expenses, from travel and entertainment to office supplies. To facilitate reimbursement, these expenses must be meticulously reported with detailed descriptions and receipts, subsequently reviewed and approved by line managers and finance teams. This process, central to expense management, not only streamlines how employees pay for business expenses but also provides a comprehensive track of their spending through organized expense reports.

What is expense management?

Expense management is the process of tracking, processing, and reimbursing employee spending. This involves scrutinizing expense reports, evaluating reimbursement claims, and enforcing company policies on permissible expenses. It is a key practice in ensuring adherence to the organization's expense policy while maintaining accurate financial records.

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Why is expense management important?

As an essential part of any business, expense management is vital for various segments of a company, such as the following:

1. Finance teams

An expense management process is the most important to a finance team or accounting department. Their main goal is to sustain accurate business financial records and analyze past trends to determine future business decisions.

Additionally, it can help identify cost-saving opportunities and risks by providing insights into the company's financial health.

2. C-level executives & managers

Owners, managers, or C-levels are more concerned about growing revenue, managing risk, reducing expenses, satisfying employees, and having a productive business.

3. Employees

Having reimbursements processed quickly creates a feeling of trust and satisfaction among employees. This greatly influences the productivity of your employees and your company.

4. Compliance

Maintaining detailed records of your business expenses ensures that your company stays compliant and assists companies in audit activity in case of fraudulent behavior.

Nevertheless, with the corporate income tax being introduced in 2023, expense management makes it simpler for businesses to file their taxes.

Expense management process

The expense management process is designed to safeguard against policy violations and mishaps, and it typically follows a uniform sequence across most businesses:

  1. Employee Expenditure: An employee makes a purchase for business purposes.
  2. Reimbursement Claim Submission: The employee submits a claim for reimbursement of the incurred expense.
  3. Claim Review: The submitted claim is reviewed and either approved or rejected.
  4. Payment Processing: Upon approval, the reimbursement is scheduled, often aligning with the employee's End-of-Month (EOM) salary.

Types of expense management

Approaches to expense management may differ from company to company. Here you'll find the different ways in which expenses are managed:

1. Paper tracking

Employees collect paper receipts and submit them to the accounting department for approval monthly or quarterly. This is the traditional (and outdated) method of managing expenses.

2. Spreadsheets

Businesses, especially in the UAE, usually use spreadsheets to manage their expenses and reduce dependency on paper receipts. Some common spreadsheet software is Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Zoho Sheets.

3. Expense management software

An expense management software simplifies the process for companies by automating it. After an employee makes an expense, the managers are alerted to either accept or reject the expense. If the expense is accepted, it is usually scheduled to be reimbursed with the employee's EOM salary.

4. Pluto: Automated expense management software

Pluto is an expense management software that helps accounting teams save time by automating reimbursements, expense reporting, expense tracking, and budget control.

When a business expense is made, a Whatsapp notification is sent to the employee, prompting them to upload their receipt by snapping a photo; this also simplifies the reconciliation process. When that is done, the admin/manager is notified to accept or reject the expense. If the expense is accepted, it is reimbursed to the employee's bank account in seconds.

On the other hand, Pluto gives you the ability to create unlimited corporate cards with spend limits so you won't have to go through an approval workflow.

Real-time expense reports are also one of the many benefits Pluto offers, helping finance teams, CFOs and accountants make informed decisions. Learn how to improve internal control over financial reporting on our new post.

Pluto's overview dashboard

Traditional vs. automated expense management

Despite the benefits of automated expense management, a large percentage of organizations in the UAE still perform manual expense management. This leads to expense reports that are time-consuming and prone to error.

Traditional expense management

Traditional expense management is one expense management process that relies on several steps to manage spending and ensure the process for an expense claim is correct. As an expense management solution, expense tracking is usually in the form of paper tracking or excel sheets, as mentioned above.

Typically, once employee-initiated expenses are made, the employee must store the expense receipts and file them as reimbursable expenses at the end of the month when the accounting department is doing the end-of-month closing. After the expenses are submitted, the approval process begins. The employee's manager either accepts or rejects the reimbursable expense; if it is accepted, it is sent to the accounting team for reimbursement.

This is considered a nightmare for accounting departments, as they will have to go through manual data entry and spend countless hours on expense reporting at the end of month closing.

Automated expense management

Unlike traditional expense management, automated expense management software reduces time spent on processing expense reports, managing the business's cash flow, reconciliation processing, and controlling expenses incurred for finance teams.

Automated spend management software, such as Pluto, eliminates the manual process and automates the process for finance teams from A-Z. With expense management software like Pluto, you can automate different flows.

Benefits of using an expense management software like Pluto

1. Automate Reimbursements

Pluto helps you manage expenses incurred by digitizing the reimbursement process. Once an expense is made, Pluto sends you a Whatsapp notification prompting you to upload your receipt by replying to the Whatsapp or by uploading it onto the Pluto app. Once that is done, the expense record is saved, so employees don't lose it, and the expense is submitted for approval.

As an added perk, Pluto also auto-categorizes expenses made so employees and finance teams won't have to worry about categorization!

2. Streamline expense reporting

With Pluto, all expense records are in one place, meaning expense reports are automated; this helps accounting departments save hundreds of hours on manual work.

Additionally, expense reports are trackable in real-time, giving managers, finance teams, and accounting departments complete visibility over the business's finances.

Real-time expense reports on Pluto

3. Accounting automation

Close your books 5x faster!

Whether you use Zoho expense, SAP Concur, or Quickbooks, your accounting software can integrate directly with Pluto's platform.

Through our integration, you can also sync your chart of accounts and your GL codes to automate bookkeeping.

Accounting integrations with Pluto

4. Smart budget control

Pluto allows you to issue your employees unlimited corporate cards with spend control. If you have daily allowances, weekly budgets, or travel expenses, you can get better control over your employee spending by setting custom limits on their corporate credit cards.

Expense management advantages for business

If you've reached this far, you might already know the advantages of automated expense management.

1. Accurate expense reporting

  • Real-time, automated expense reports
  • Sort reports by day, week, month, or by department, or category

2. Quick reimbursements

  • Faster approval process for employees and finance teams
  • Auto-categorization when uploading receipts

3. Monitor employee spending

  • See what is being spent and where in real-time
  • Set daily, weekly, or monthly allowances

4. Close books faster

  • Integrate with all major accounting software to close your books 5x faster
  • Sync your GL codes

What is an expense management policy?

Employee spending can be controlled by implementing an expense management policy. The policy can function as grounds for rejecting or questioning expenses and help determine whether they should be reimbursed.

In every expense management policy, the following items should be included:

Types of expenses

 A complete list of everything employees may purchase and what they may not purchase.

Budgets

The current budget should be disclosed to everyone, and those with questions should be able to contact those responsible.

Reimbursements

 A reimbursement policy must specify the reimbursement method, such as online, by credit card, or by other payment methods.

Key features to look for in an expense management software

If you're purchasing an expense management solution, make sure it fills your company's unique needs, offers the right level of functionality, and comes with a dedicated account manager.

Some of the key features you should be looking for are:

1. Real-time expense tracking and reporting

Having real-time expense reports is vital, as it helps finance teams monitor employees' expenses and manage them on the go.

For example, if the company's marketing department uses 70% of its monthly budget in the first two weeks of the month, the finance team can notify them that 70% of the budget has been used so they can plan and budget for the remaining 30%.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Get notified as soon as an expense is made, so you know who spends what, where, and when
  • Keep track of all business expenses, such as reimbursement, travel, and employee expenditure data, to avoid going over budget

2. Quick reimbursements

End-to-end reimbursements are crucial for a business to operate seamlessly. With quick end-to-end reimbursements, employees no longer have to wait till payroll to get reimbursed.

With Pluto, you can:

  • File a reimbursement request through Whatsapp or the Pluto app
  • Get reimbursed in seconds

3. Approval flows

Approval processes should be hassle-free. It's essential to have automated approval flows to ensure employee expenses and expense claims are approved by the right managers.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Automatically assign expenses to the right reviewer
  • Create your own customized approval flow
Approval workflows with Pluto

4. Integration with accounting software

Integrating your accounting platform with your expense management software reduces the time spent on bookkeeping.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Integrate most major accounting platforms
  • Sync your chart of accounts
  • Sync your GL codes
  • Close your books 5x faster

5. Customizable budget control

Setting limits and budgets is essential to control your company's financials fully. This helps your company stay within its budget and avoid mishaps with company spending.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Create unlimited corporate cards with set limits
  • Increase limits on corporate cards in seconds
  • Issue vendor-specific cards
Spend limits & vendor specific payments with Pluto corporate cards

Pluto combines the above features with easy integrations, complete visibility, and total control over every aspect of your company's expense management.

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November 6, 2023

Leen Shami

7 Ultimate Digital Transformation Tips for CFOs in UAE

The finance landscape is undergoing a seismic shift in an era of unstinted technological advancement. Back in 2018, a PWC report found that amongst the top 12 challenges that financial organisations faced, 4 of them were technology-related. It wasn't about deciding whether to implement digital transformation technologies but more about understanding the enterprise value these investments would add.

According to Deloitte, adopting the right digital transformation strategies can increase market value by up to $1.25 trillion across Fortune 500 companies. But how can organisations implement these strategies successfully?

The CFO's Perspective on Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is no longer just a buzzword; it is a mandate for modern businesses, and the CFO plays a central role in this paradigm shift. Gone are the days when the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position revolved solely around balance sheets, budgeting, and compliance. The modern CFO is now tasked with leading the charge in the digital transformation of the finance department.

With its vision of becoming a global technology and innovation hub in the UAE, the need for digital transformation is even more compelling.

Why is digital transformation so vital for a CFO?

  • Real-Time Financial Insights: Real-time access to financial data can be an invaluable asset in combating expense fraud. Digital transformation allows CFOs to detect irregularities promptly, leading to timely intervention and reducing the financial losses associated with fraud.
  • Enhanced Reporting: CFOs can generate comprehensive financial reports more quickly and accurately, aiding in transparency and stakeholder communication.
  • Cost Reduction: Automating financial processes can lead to cost savings, such as reduced labour and operational costs.
  • Strategic Planning: Digital tools help CFOs analyse financial data and create insights to make strategic decisions and adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Compliance and Risk Management: Digital solutions assist in maintaining compliance with changing regulations and mitigating financial risks.

What is the best digital transformation tool for you?

As a CFO, your journey towards a comprehensive digital transformation should be guided by specific features that enhance financial efficiency and help combat one of the most prevalent issues—expense fraud. Here's what you should look for in a digital transformation tool to achieve these goals:

1. Full Control Over Budget Allocation and Spend Visibility:

Access to complete control over budget allocation and clear visibility into how those budgets are spent is the foundation of sound financial management. Your chosen digital transformation tool should empower you to allocate resources efficiently and make data-driven decisions.

2. Real-Time Closure with ERP Integration:

Moving from traditional month-end closures to real-time closures is a game-changer. This transition ensures you have real-time insights into your company's expenditure, allowing you to address financial challenges swiftly. An essential component of this is seamless integration with your ERP system, which provides instant access to financial data.

3. Elimination of Petty Cash Usage:

Digitization of financial processes is a fundamental aspect of modern financial management. To achieve this, focus on strategies to eliminate petty cash usage as much as possible. Consider solutions that offer alternatives, such as merchant-specific cards, fuel cards, and PRO cards, which reduce inefficiency and enhance security.‎

4. Advanced Expense Fraud Detection:

Expense fraud is an all-too-common challenge faced by many companies. Leveraging digitization to combat this issue is essential. Look for a solution equipped with world-class Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to identify duplicate receipts and suspicious transactions. The goal is to ensure transactions are monitored in real-time and in an automated manner, such that financial compliance is continuously maintained.

5. Improved Audit Process for Accounting Teams:

Ensuring an enhanced audit process is a vital component of your CFO responsibilities. You must seek a digital transformation tool with two critical features for this. First, accounting automation powered by ERP integration streamlines financial processes and reduces the potential for human error. Second, the tool should provide 100% visibility into all receipts across the company, creating a comprehensive audit trail and reducing the likelihood of discrepancies.

6. Insights and Forecasting:

To thrive in a rapidly changing business environment, a CFO must have a finger on the pulse of their company's finances. A 360-degree digital transformation solution offers complete real-time visibility into all company expenditures. This feature allows you to provide timely, data-driven insights and forecasts, enabling proactive decision-making.

7. Multi-Subsidiary Expense Tracking:

In the UAE, as businesses achieve a reasonable size, they often evolve into multi-subsidiary or multi-branch entities. Given this common trajectory, it's imperative that the chosen digital transformation tool supports multi-subsidiary expense tracking. This ensures that financial data from all parts of the organization is aggregated and analyzed effectively. Not only does it provide a holistic view of the company's financial health, but it also enables consistent monitoring and control of expenses across the entire organization.

To illustrate the power of these digital transformation features, let's look at real-life business examples from the UAE:

1. Dubai Blockchain Mandate: Dubai is on a mission to become the world's inaugural blockchain-powered city. The Dubai Blockchain Mandate, led by the Smart Dubai Office, lays out a clear path for integrating blockchain technology across the city. By embracing blockchain technology, Dubai has the potential to realize annual savings of 5.5 billion dirhams in document processing alone, equivalent to the value of one Burj Khalifa every year.

2. Dubai Government Services: The government is committed to digitizing its services, the rate of which in 2023 stands at 99.5%. Currently, 87% of all government service transactions are digital. Furthermore, the government has also developed over 100 smartphone apps with cybersecurity and data law compliance.

The digital transformation process is an ongoing journey that entails mobilising the entire workforce and instilling a change-oriented mindset with no pre-defined endpoint that might extend well beyond your current leadership. It serves as the fundamental framework for an organisation's survival in an era marked by disruptions. Achieving success in this context involves formulating a strategy around making purposeful investments in the digital realm. It requires the prudent allocation of resources toward innovative technologies that can drive the organisation's strategic initiatives.

Ultimately, the successful execution of digital transformation mandates the ability to communicate to stakeholders that every digital initiative undertaken is a deliberate move to enhance the organisation's prospects for sustained success.