What You Need to Know About AP Automation Vendors
For many businesses, their accounts payable needs haven’t stopped due to the remote reality of working from home during a global epidemic, but they have shifted.
We understand it can be challenging to keep business processes moving forward during an epidemic or other force majeure events. If your AP Automation project needs urgent attention or are looking to add AP Automation to your business continuity plans, this blog can help your business identify the best AP Automation vendors for your needs with some able to get remote AP setup in days, not months. But that brings us a to a larger point:
What are the differences between accounts payable automation vendors?
Is it simply a Ford/Chevrolet argument—some organizations like one tool while others prefer something else? Or is there something else at play? Do AP Automation platforms differ at the foundational level?
At Stampli, we believe the latter. The various forms of AP Automation vendors that exist are fundamentally different, but they generally fall into one of these categories:
- Outsourced solutions
- Payment companies with some AP functionality
- Heavily customized solutions
- Complete AP solutions
Today, we’ll unpack the various different types of AP Automation vendors and provide details about which may be right for you depending on your needs.
Outsourced Accounts Payable
The first option for AP Automation is actually pretty low-tech. Some companies will offload this process to farms of people overseas who are even further removed from the nature of the business. It might centralize where the invoice goes, but it didn’t get everyone talking about the same invoice or having people work better together.
The outsourced coding centers are also vulnerable to delays which can take 2+ days and since people are coding versus technology, these systems are error-prone. Another downside is the loss of control in terms of cost accounting as outsourced systems don’t have intelligent functionality built-in to properly allocate budgets.
Payment Solutions Disguised as AP Automation Solutions
If a company has a history of payment processing and then suddenly spins off a new product for invoice management, it’s likely not their specialty. They’re really more interested in defining the payment method than providing a viable technology solution for AP problems. Their technology has little innovation or intelligence on the finer points of accounts payable to help AP teams do their jobs better.
These payment companies trap organizations with their accounts payable approval process, where the approvers from across every department went through some sort of training. Now the organization is stuck with one payment provider and when it wants to change payment solutions that might offer better terms — has to weigh the cost of retraining an entire organization over the approval process with the cost-benefits of switching to a better payment provider. This is a frequent occurrence for businesses and there is always a better payment solution, just look at the list of the hundreds of payment technologies in attendance at Money20/20.
Fundamentally, we believe that payments need to be uncoupled from accounts payable and the approval process. It doesn’t make sense to be forced to use only one payment provider—options are essential to many businesses.
AP Automation – Heavily Customized Workflow Solutions
Truly, anything is possible with software. That doesn’t always mean it’s advisable, however. When a system is hard-coded to satisfy the individual needs of an organization, they are cumbersome to implement where they can take weeks or months to implement, and very expensive since they were part of a complex package.
And because they are created as features and not core to the product, they often only solve the most basic parts of the process. These types of solutions may help slightly with efficiency and productivity improvements, but they still lack centralized invoice communications. Additionally, if there are changes to your processes or teams, they can be very expensive to adapt to your new workflows.
Complete AP Automation Solutions – Meet Stampli
Stampli is a cloud-based AP Automation platform that gives accounts payable full control of the invoice lifecycle. Stampli speeds up approvals for vendor invoices by providing organizations a powerful platform capable of facilitating control. The system solves for the communications disconnect with a state of the art communications hub; where all invoice-related collaboration takes place on the invoice for AP, employees and even vendors. Here’s what you get with Stampli:
Organizations looking to improve internal controls and speed-up the accounts payable invoice lifecycle can look to add these benefits—plus a lot more—to their current AP processes.
- Fastest & Effortless Implementation – One of Stampli’s key differentiators is the speed of implementation. While other systems may take weeks to set up, organizations can be up and running with this sleek AP platform in under 24-hours or less.
- Communications, Control & Accountability – With invoice communications and actions taking place on the invoice itself, the added context helps for faster invoice decisions and improves accountability as every action is auditable. Customers have reported that Stampli has reduced invoice approval times by up to 80%.
- Smart & Flexible Software – Equipped with an artificial intelligence and machine learning helper, Billy The Bot, learns your unique invoice processes and is scalable by adapting to any future changes in process or invoice volume.
- #1 in AP Automation – Stampli is positioned by G2 as “Leader” for AP Automation and is the highest rated software with satisfaction scores 20% higher than the industry average.
Here’s how we make it happen:
Features that AP professionals love
Here’s what makes Stampli a Leader in AP Automation software.
- Ease of Use – Stampli is designed to give each user from AP, approvers, management, to vendors — a tailored view to see only the information they need to take action to keep the process moving forward. Other features listed are its single-screen access to all relevant documents and information, in addition to the minimal number of clicks required to perform required actions. Reviews indicate the software is intuitive and requires no training, although customer success is at your service taking no longer than a few minutes to assist if there’s a support need.
- Data pre-populates – This AP Automation platform is able to read invoices far beyond the header data, automatically filling out important fields at the line-item level. Additionally, it can automatically find and connect supporting documentation like purchase orders for three-way matching.
- Collaboration hub – Stampli is the only AP Automation vendor that allows users to work directly ‘on top’ of the invoice. On one screen, users can view, edit, verify, and route for approval, all while keeping communication in context so that any disputes can be resolved with quick access to the underlying data and paper trail.
- Intuitive dashboard – No more lost invoices and hunting down hard-copy documents—Stampli’s dashboard keeps every piece of information an AP employee might need within arm’s reach in an interface that’s easy (and fun!) to use.
- Seamless integration – Stampli is designed to integrate into an organization’s unique procurement and accounting processes, along with any financial system, without IT support or lengthy implementation. The system natively integrates via API with popular accounting and ERP software (full list here) and also has file-based integrations available where an API doesn’t exist such as in the case with an on-premise application.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning – Nicknamed “Billy the Bot,” Stampli’s AI feature allows the system to ‘learn’ the habits of its users and workflows of an organization’s unique process. This learning allows the system to adapt and get faster and even more user-friendly over time.
- Payments – Stampli lets you pay vendors how you decide. Pay in Stampli Direct Pay by ACH, check or outside the system. When outside, Stampli will update your financial system when an invoice has been approved for payment, and once the payment has been processed, reflected in Stampli.
- Implementation timeline – Stampli software can be up and running in days, not months.
- Payback period – The return on investment with Stampli is 9 months on average.
We hope this gives you some insight into the types of AP Automation vendors out there. For a deeper look into Stampli or a demo, contact one of our AP heroes to see the system in action!