Cloud-Based AP Automation: A Game Changer for Your Business

They say the only constant is change.

Cloud-based Accounts Payable automation solutions are an evolutionary step – transforming the accounts payable process from a back-office function to a powerful strategic driver. In an ever-changing and competitive marketplace, finance leaders are challenged to do more with less – optimize invoice processing, maintain cash flow, and save money. 

In other words, they need to embrace change.

Digital transformation: cloud computing delivers 4x ROI

According to Foundry’s 2022 Cloud Computing survey, 81% of companies have moved at least one application to the cloud, with 54% migrating apps from an on-premise environment and 46% adopting purpose-built cloud-based software solutions for their business needs.

Why Businesses Invest in Cloud Computing

It’s no mystery why businesses are moving to the cloud. According to Foundry, 60% of businesses said that moving to the cloud helped them achieve “increased and sustainable” revenue in 2021. And in a 2020 research report, Nucleus Research reported that cloud-based technology deployments delivered four times the ROI as on-premise deployments. Nucleus also found that businesses that deployed to the cloud recovered the cost of their initial investment 2.5 times faster than from on-premise deployments.

In Episode 34 of Leaders of Modern Finance, Ben Murray, Founder of The SaaS CFO, talks to Nick Gerostathos, SVP, Chief Accounting Officer, and Corporate Controller at Talkdesk, about change as a development tool for financial leaders. They discuss the need for leaders to embrace being “intentionally uncomfortable” during periods of change to make growth possible.

The AP Automation Challenge: Efficiency vs. Evolution

Cloud-based AP automation is a foundational technology for businesses that are ambitious about eliminating manual processes, gaining agility, optimizing P2P workflows, and future-proofing their businesses. By taking advantage of cloud-based AP process automation systems, your business can enjoy improved scalability, enhanced flexibility, secure invoice data storage, and streamlined collaboration.

Read on to learn about why cloud-based AP automation is the new standard for accounts payable and how it can benefit your business.

What is cloud-based and on-premise AP automation software?

I own and operate a food-service business. Before the pandemic, we had 15 restaurants and a central kitchen, and we were adding 2-3 new restaurants a year. After the pandemic – things changed.

It’s not an exaggeration to say we almost got wiped out. We had to shutter all but two restaurants, and those only survived because of the takeout business. But we got lucky, if you can call it lucky. 

We were able to ramp up our central kitchen and a few of the restaurant kitchens and start a ghost restaurant business. There were some late payments and a few scary months, but the pivot worked. We’re growing again post-pandemic, but now we’re focusing on pre-made meals and deliveries. 

With all these changes comes a couple of new challenges, one being our accounts payable system. Before COVID, we were using the AP module of our on-premise ERP. That worked great when we were in an office and had all our staff in the same room. We have minimal office space today, and our staff are all working remotely or hybrid. We’re in the process of reducing manual tasks and moving our business systems to the cloud and are looking at options for invoice automation.

Here’s our story.

On-premise AP automation

Before COVID, we ran our accounts payable on the back of the ERP system installed on the server in our head office. The on-premise system had a couple of nice advantages:

  • We had total control over the system and could customize it as needed
  • The system worked if the internet went down
  • Good security because all our information was on a hard drive in a locked server room

That said, even before COVID we had some problems with the on-prem system. For example, we had to maintain the software and hardware. Our specialty is making delicious food, not IT, so we always had to rely on outside help for maintenance. 

Another drawback was that our bookkeeper and accounting people had to travel to our head office if they wanted to work with the system. This was a pain because some of our restaurants dealt with their own suppliers. Any time we were onboarding a new supplier or paying invoices, we’d have to send documents back and forth to the restaurant.

We also found the old on-premise system wasn’t easy to scale up, which was holding us back a bit as we added new restaurants. And last but certainly not least, the old system didn’t allow remote access. Like I said, this became a problem during lockdown when our staff couldn’t come in to run invoices. We fell way behind on vendor payments, which complicated things when we were trying to shut our restaurants down. 

Our controller had more than one sleepless night.

Now let’s talk about cloud-based AP automation and how it can help our business grow.

Cloud-based AP automation

A cloud-based accounts payable automation solution is basically AP software that runs on someone else’s computer that you use over the internet. The service provider manages the hardware, keeps everything running, and handles the internet connections. Most cloud-based AP solutions offer mobile interfaces and dashboards so you can access your AP stuff anywhere, anytime.

Perfect for a business changing to a remote model. 

I was very interested in learning more about this solution. Here’s what I discovered.

Advantages of cloud-based accounts payable automation software

Why Businesses Invest in AP Automation

So, my main reason for looking at a cloud-based AP solution is remote access. I love that my AP team can access our system and process invoices from anywhere. I also love that I can pull up real-time reports on my iPhone. It lets me keep track of what we’re spending, which makes managing cash flow a lot easier.

There are some other advantages to my business as well, such as:

Disaster recovery & security

I never want our business to be caught unawares by an emergency again. Cloud-based AP systems are available 24/7, and the provider takes care of backups and disaster recovery. They also handle security and encryption, so we don’t have to worry if we forget to install a software patch. 

Peace of mind is nice to have.

No capital expenses

Cloud-based solutions run on remote computers. We don’t need to buy a new server or use up scarce office space for a server room.

Cloud vs. On-Premise Computing

Cost savings

Because cloud-based solutions don’t require a big capital investment or ongoing maintenance, we save a lot of money upfront. But there are other savings as well. Having my accounts payable team work remotely means I don’t need to pay for a lot of office space. 

The AP solution eliminates time-consuming paper-based workflows like manual data entry to reduce processing costs. That means my finance team can focus on higher-value tasks like business growth. And faster payment processing means I can pay suppliers faster, which makes everyone happy.

Accessibility and collaboration

I’ve already mentioned accessibility, but I want to expand on it a bit. Moving to a remote workplace was a big change for our employees. We struggled for a while as people tried to figure out how to work together online. We also found it tough to keep in touch with our suppliers, many of whom were also switching to a remote working model.

Cloud-based AP automation solutions feature communications and collaboration tools that make it a lot easier for our people to work together. For example, vendor portals let us stay in touch with our suppliers – people can ask questions about invoices, check payment status, and share information. This makes procurement and invoice matching go a lot more smoothly.

And, as I said, mobile access is also a game changer because it lets everyone hop onto the system from anywhere. 

Flexibility and scalability

Cloud-based solutions can easily scale to support business growth and provide a huge degree of flexibility. For example, we’ve been looking at expanding into franchising pop-up restaurants and food trucks. These franchises would be independent businesses but tapped into our supply chain system. A cloud-based AP platform can easily manage multiple locations, subsidiaries, and invoice approval workflows.

Scaling our AP solution to match growing invoice volumes is simple too. All we need to do is let our cloud provider know our needs, and they’ll make the necessary changes.

Easy as pie.

Complete audit trail

I’m not a fan of audits, but one nice advantage to cloud-based solutions is that they make audits easier by providing a complete audit trail. The platform tracks and records every user action, communication, and step in the AP process. No more searching through file cabinets for lost documents.

Learn How Techstars Reduces Accounts Payable Processing Time by Integrating Stampli with Sage Intacct

Seamless ERP integration

As I mentioned, we’re transitioning from our old on-prem ERP system to a cloud-based solution. We’re very interested in Sage Intacct’s Restaurant Accounting solution – it does everything we need and more. One big advantage to cloud-based AP systems is that solutions (like Stampli) seamlessly integrate into cloud-based ERPs and accounting software to share data and make collaboration a whole lot easier.

Integration makes it easier for us to check invoices against purchase orders and shipping receipts, which lets us get vendors paid faster. And the AP solution and ERP auto-sync data and communications with each other, ensuring everyone is reading from the same page.

Easy setup

Last but not least, cloud-based AP solutions are super easy to set up and integrate into our other systems, with no IT changes or changes to our business processes.

The bottom line – Cloud-based AP automation is the best solution

Change may be inevitable, but embracing change and learning from it is how you grow.

Pivoting to a new business model wasn’t easy, and we’ve still got some challenges ahead of us as we transition to a new way of doing business. Cloud-based AP automation makes total sense for us. It supports our remote/hybrid working environment, integrates with our other systems, and streamlines our manual AP processes. Not to mention that cloud-based solutions are cost-effective, secure, and scalable. They’re the best accounts payable option for us or any business looking to evolve how they handle accounts payable.

Stampli: industry-leading cloud-based AP Automation

Stampli is the industry leader in cloud-based Accounts Payable Automation. We bring all your AP workflows, documentation, and communication into one place – and give you total visibility and control. Contact us today, and learn how to implement a fully automated AP process.

Compare Stampli to Similar Products

The ideal solution for organizations looking to embrace cloud-based AP automation, Stampli is the only solution purpose-built for AP departments. It’s simple to learn and easy to use. Stampli automates invoice capture, coding, routing, verification, approval processes, vendor management, and fraud detection. 

Stampli offers pre-built functionality for over 70 ERPs and accounting systems, seamlessly integrating with Sage Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Netsuite, QuickBooks, and 70 others. With Stampli, accounts payable departments can implement industry-leading AP Automation in weeks, not months, with no IT investment, coding, or changes to existing processes.

Stampli’s core solution can be expanded with powerful integrated solutions, including Stampli Direct Pay, Stampli Card, Stampli Insights, and Stampli Advanced Vendor Management to completely optimize your end-to-end procure-to-pay workflows.

Learn how switching to cloud-based AP automation can transform your business. Contact Stampli today to schedule a free demo.

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