Accounts Payable Technology: 10 Tools to Streamline AP

automated invoices

Does your accounts payable department struggle with any of the following challenges?

  • Lost invoices and other important documents?
  • Approval bottlenecks?
  • Understaffing?
  • Sketchy purchase orders?
  • Duplicate invoices or documents?
  • Employees not following expense claims policies?
  • Late invoice payments that impact operations?  
  • Mountains of paperwork?
  • Invoices and other documents in a multitude of different formats?
  • Tedious, error-prone manual data entry?
  • Cash flow problems?
  • Wild scrambles to get everything in order every tax season?
  • Audit anxiety?

If so, you’re not alone. These are common problems faced by many AP departments. The good news is that there are some incredible accounts payable technologies available today that can help you reduce or even eliminate these obstacles.

In this post, we’ll discuss what accounts payable technology is, unpack the benefits of implementing AP technology, equip you with the key questions to ask to choose the right solution, and provide you with an overview of the ten top accounts payable technology tools available today.

Keep reading to find out how accounts payable technology can turn your AP department into a well-oiled machine.

What is Accounts Payable Technology?

Accounts payable technology helps businesses to manage and streamline––and typically automate––their accounts payable processes and improve visibility and cash flow. At their core, AP technologies aim to improve the way documents like invoices are created, submitted, approved, matched, paid, and recorded.

While paper-based AP processes and Excel spreadsheets may work for small businesses, these systems soon become unfeasible for any business that handles more than a handful of invoices, purchase orders, contracts, receipts, expense claims, reports, and other financial documents per month.

There are a plethora of different AP solutions available, catering to different verticals, company sizes, growth stages, and specific use cases. Some AP technologies offer full-fledged accounting capabilities and integrate with other tools like ERP solutions, while others have far more basic features.  

Today, more and more businesses are adopting accounts payable technology to boost efficiency, save money, improve cash flow, prevent fraud, and gain greater AP visibility.

the accounts payable process

Benefits of Accounts Payable Technology

How does AP technology benefit your business? Here are a few of the many ways accounts payable software can make your life easier:

  • Intelligent accounts payable technology drastically reduces data entry and other manual tasks like printing invoices, walking them over to approvers to obtain physical signatures, scanning documents, filing, and bookkeeping.
  • Automating data capture and entry improves efficiency and reduces the frequency of errors. AI-enabled AP technology like automatic invoice matching can even detect and flag errors.
  • AP workflow automation facilitates smoother, shorter approval cycles, by automatically routing requests to the appropriate parties for approval and sending reminders when required.
  • Accounts payable software with features like optical character recognition makes it easier to process different document formats by transforming images and PDFs into editable text.
  • Automating invoice processing significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to process invoices, saving a lot of time––and money. Levvel Research’s 2020 Payables Insight Report found that 53% of respondents saw lower processing costs as one of the main benefits of AP automation. You also stand to save on paper, printing, and storage costs.
  • Standardized procurement processes can help enforce company policies and prevent fraud by automatically rejecting improperly formulated requests or escalating requests for higher approval when preconfigured conditions are met. For instance, if a purchase order exceeds a specific dollar value threshold, it may be routed to the CFO or financial controller for approval.
  • Many vendors offer companies that pay their invoices early discounts (typically 1-3%). When your invoices and cash flow are in order, it’s easier to take advantage of these discounts, which can add up to considerable cost savings.
  • Automated AP processes mean that invoices and receipts are far less likely to get lost or get stuck in someone’s inbox or desk drawer. This means fewer bottlenecks, late B2B payments, and missing documentation.
  • Most accounts payable technology comes with reporting and data analytics features that improve AP visibility, facilitating greater business intelligence and more strategic cash flow management.
  • AP workflow automation frees your team from tedious, repetitive tasks and enables them to focus on more meaningful and engaging tasks, making for more efficient human resource management and happier employees.

Read More: Uncover the Secrets of the Modern Day CFO & Controller

benefits of account payable technology

Choosing the Best Accounts Payable Technology Solution for Your Business

When selecting the right accounts payable technology for your business, there are numerous factors to take into consideration.

Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating different AP technology solutions:

  • Is this tool suitable for your business size and does it accommodate the level of complexity of your accounting processes?
  • How easy is this tool to use? Does it have a user-friendly interface?
  • Which integrations with other software do this tool support? Does it integrate with the systems you already use? Does it support the creation of custom integrations?
  • How is the tool deployed? Is it a cloud-based, on-premise, or hybrid solution?
  • Does the tool’s pricing model fit your budget? What have other users said about its value for money? Does it offer a free trial period?
  • How long does this tool take to implement?
  • What kind of training and support does the company behind the tool offer users? Is this support only available with higher price tiers?
  • How long will it take to see a return on your investment if you choose this tool?
  • What does the tool’s security look like? Is it compliant with your security and privacy policies and any regulations your business is subject to?
  • Which features does this tool offer and are they applicable for your use case(s)?
  • Is it capable of processing large volumes of accounts payable documents?
  • Which document formats does it support? Is it capable of automating data capture from paper-based documents?
  • Does it offer automatic bank reconciliation?
  • Does it facilitate collaboration?
  • Does it automate approval workflows and tedious, repetitive tasks?
  • Does it automatically match documents like invoices and purchase orders against each other?
  • Does it allow you to generate and issue quotes, timesheets, invoices, payments?
  • Does it provide a searchable single source of truth for all your AP records?
  • How good are this tool’s reporting and analytics capabilities? Can you customize the dashboard and/or reports to your needs?
  • Does this tool have AI and machine learning capabilities? Does it get smarter over time?
  • Is this tool mobile-friendly? Does it have a mobile app?
  • What kinds of payments does this support? Does it offer a built-in payment solution?

When purchasing any kind of software, it’s important to do your own research and weigh various products against your business’s unique requirements. Reviews, product comparisons, and customer testimonials are a good place to start.

Read More: Never Too Early: Why a Small Business Should Invest in Accounts Payable Automation

accounts payable automation can save you money

Top Accounts Payable Software Solutions

Below, we’ve rounded up 10 of the top accounts payable technology solutions available today.

1. Stampli

Stampli is a user-friendly automated accounts payable tool that makes processing and paying invoices a breeze. This holistic paperless procure-to-pay solution includes features like duplicate detection, purchase order to invoice matching to detect errors and fraud, and built-in collaboration tools that allow users to ask one another questions within the approval workflow to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Stampli is fully payment-agnostic, allowing businesses to effortlessly make and receive payments via paper checks, easy-to-reconcile ACH transactions, or in-platform Stampli Direct Pay.

Stampli also offers a supplier portal that makes it easy for contractors and vendors to submit their invoices to your system directly. This means that your AP process is digitized right from the start, making for much shorter approval workflows.

What sets Stampli apart is its intelligent AP bot, Billy, which is equipped with advanced artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and optical character recognition (OCR). This means that Billy can capture and interpret invoices in real-time. The more you use Billy, the more he learns about your accounting processes, enabling him to automatically code your transactions and route approvals with ever-increasing accuracy.

Stampli integrates with a wide range of leading financial and ERP software solutions, providing AP automation for Oracle Netsuite, Sage, QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP, and Dealertrack DMS.

Stampli offers a usage-based pricing model.

2. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is accounting software specifically designed to help small businesses and freelancers streamline their client invoicing, time tracking, expense management, and recurring payments.

FreshBooks features include double-entry accounting, automated bank reconciliation, accounts payable automation, online payments, mileage tracking, digital receipt capture, user-friendly visual reporting tools, and offers built-in integrations with more than 100 apps. FreshBooks boasts human support agents and offers weekly training demos.

FreshBooks pricing starts from $7.50 per month.

3. NetSuite ERP

NetSuite is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning product from Oracle. NetSuite helps companies to make their operational and financial processes more efficient and visible by integrating and automating key functions like financial management, revenue management, inventory management, order management, billing, e-commerce, and CRM to provide a single source of truth.

Available NetSuite modules include financials and accounting, human capital management (HCM) and/or human resource management software (HRMS), customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, order management, procurement, supply chain management, project management, and material requirements planning (MRP).

NetSuite license pricing starts at $999 per month.

4. SAP Concur

SAP Concur is an enterprise accounts payable solution that helps businesses to connect, automate, and simplify their expense, travel, and invoice management. Concur  SAP Concur is part of a larger SAP ecosystem, with other products including SAP Purchase Request, Invoice Capture, and Consultative Intelligence.

SAP Concur pricing starts from $9 per report.

5. Zoho Books

Zoho Books is a cloud-based accounting tool that forms a part of the larger Zoho product family. Zoho Books is a user-friendly platform that gives businesses greater visibility and control of their cash flow.

Its features enable users to create quotes and invoices, send automated payment reminders, facilitate online payments, create and send purchase orders, upload receipts, track payments, track inventory, track time, set up automated stock reordering, automate bank reconciliations, manage customer and supplier contacts, and generate detailed reports.

Zoho Books pricing starts at $10 per month.

6. Sage Intacct

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based enterprise accounting and financial management solution that helps accountants improve process efficiency, gain deeper insight into businesses’ financials, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Sage Intacct is popular with AICPA businesses and top CPA firms due to its robust feature set and flexibility, which offers a variety of options through modules geared towards specific financial functions including spending management, order management, cash management, and account payables and receivables.  

Sage offers customized pricing upon request.

7. cloud-based accounting software for managing accounts payable and accounts receivables. supports a variety of payment options, including ACH, virtual cards, and international wire transfers, leading more than 200,000 users––including numerous banks and accounting firms––to use the platform to facilitate digital payments.

Features like automatic data entry and machine learning help to prevent errors like duplicate invoices, saving time and money. The software also allows users to store invoices, create custom invoices, and collaborate on financial processes from approvals to collections. pricing starts from $39 per user per month.

8. FreeAgent

FreeAgent is a feature-rich cloud-based accounting tool that is popular among small businesses and freelancers (and their accountants). FreeAgent offers time tracking, timesheet generation, invoicing, payroll management, cash flow monitoring, and compliance and tax management features in a user-friendly interface with an intuitive dashboard. It offers built-in integrations with tools like CRM, payment, and other finance applications.

FreeAgent pricing starts from $12 per month.

9. QuickBooks

QuickBooks by Intuit is a leading cloud accounting platform that offers several integrated solutions for small businesses, including QuickBooks accounts payable automation. QuickBooks gives businesses a simple yet holistic view of their finances, making it easy to see how money flows in and out of their business. QuickBooks automates a lot of the tedious parts of accounting, reconciling invoices, payments, and payroll in a single location and making sure the books are always up to date.

QuickBooks offers a wide range of integrations and supports payments including credit cards, debit cards, and ACH bank transfers. QuickBooks is mobile-friendly, which means users can conduct business on the go, on any device.

QuickBooks pricing starts from $12,50 per month and its Freelancer plan starts from $7,50 per month.

10. Xero

Xero is a cloud-based accounting solution specifically designed for small businesses. It allows users to streamline a range of finance functions including accounts payable and accounts receivable. Xero’s features include bank reconciliations, cash flow management, payment processing, payroll management, and financial reporting.

Its mobile app, Xero Touch, allows users to capture receipts to simplify expense claims and helps businesses keep financial processes moving in real-time, from any location. Xero facilitates automatic data capture through Hubdoc and enables multi-currency accounting, supporting over 160 currencies.

Xero pricing starts from $11 per month.

Streamline, Simplify and Automate Your AP Processes

Stampli is 2021’s most awarded accounts payable solution. Get set up in days and start reaping the benefits of flexible month-to-month accounts payable automation and direct payments.

Want to find out more about how Stampli can transform your AP department? Talk to us to arrange a free demo.

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