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Accounts Payable Automation Process

Has anyone recently implemented an accounts payable automation system at their company? Did it go smoothly, what software/company did you engage and are you happy with what you have? Any tips or suggestions as I review different solutions? My two main goals are to streamline accounts payable to become more efficient and increase the accuracy of GL coding by allowing front line managers to review invoices in the cloud from anywhere. We run a farm and often it is difficult for us to know where to apply costs because different crops often use the same inputs. However, due to the random nature of our farmers they need flexibility and convenience to help in the process. At the end of the day I am not looking to incorporate technology if it does not improve the process.

Answers

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Bryan
Your post seems to be addressing a need to achieve accuracy and consistency through automation (of a process that works to achieve accuracy and consistency).

Having done this for many clients, I would suggest you:
1. Define your current pains/questions you need answers for
2. Analyze your current state process(es) and find the root cause of issues
3. Define and design future state process(es) in alignment with your goals (see 1 above-pains to remove/questions to answer)
4. Determine extent of current software gaps
5. Determine options to execute-upgrade/replace software, introduce new process.

This is not like root canal, it's simply a structured way to figure out how to improve the process, so that you can then automate a better process than you have today.

I'm happy to chat further if you wish.
Regards
Len

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Lots of interesting benchmark data, charts, graphs etc in this whitepaper on A/P Automation processes:

"The Invoice-to-Pay Process"
https://www.proformative.com/whitepapers/invoice-to-pay-process

Best... Sarah

David Dobrin
Title: President
Company: B2B Analysts, Inc.
(President, B2B Analysts, Inc.) |

The best thing by far is to ask other farms what they do with this problem, as it is extremely specialized, and most generic software cannot handle the problem effectively. I doubt that there is any other farm in the world that has a Taoist Finance Officer, but maybe there is a farm (or farm cooperative, which is really what this sounds like) that can help. I selected a system for a farm cooperative years ago, but it was driven by requirements on the sales side, so my experience can't help.

Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

Include Bill.com in your research. Features that you might like include:

* You can give your vendors a special Bill.com e-mail address so they can send their invoices directly to Bill.com.
* Your managers log in whenever and have a look at the invoice and the coding, then approve it
* No bill can be paid until it is electronically marked as approved
* It synchronizes with a number of different general ledger packages, including QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online, Xero, Intacct, Netsuite, and more.
* Amazing customer service

Anonymous
(Chief Financial Officer) |

Jaime, my current bookkeeper is reluctant to use bill.com because they say that it is redundant and that they still have to enter the invoices into QB anyway. I have used bill.com in the past and liked it very much. Bookkeeper says that I shouldn't have to review invoices. I am frustrated that my bookkeeper is advising me on how to do my job as CFO. Thoughts?

Michael Bolton
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Progressive Components
(Chief Financial Officer, Progressive Components) |

we just implemented NEXUS Payables for AP automation integrated with Microsoft Dynamics GP - really good results so far. we are getting expected efficiencies, accuracy and visibility for AP and accounting, plus excellent user friendly feedback from rest of organization.

Gregory Q. Jenkins
Title: President
Company: Quentasia Industries Incorporated
(President, Quentasia Industries Incorporated) |

I agree with Len Green's comments. If you are looking to overhaul your A/P process, I always advise my clients to re-design the process first and then go out and find the software the most closely supports your re-designed process. I am not a fan of overhauling one piece of your accounting system. If it is within your budget, you may want to look into cloud based ERP systems. This will give you the cloud access that you seek and the chance to make your entire accounting process more efficient. Quickbooks Enterprise Online is great for small businesses. Intacct is another although I am not familiar with their pricing model so I don't know how expensive that option would be.

John Pustell
Title: VP and Controller
Company: TRI Ventures Inc (formerly known as Aque..
(VP and Controller, TRI Ventures Inc (formerly known as Aquent Inc)) |

I agree with all the comments - make a list of your pain points, talk with other farms and then find something that improves things. I understand your bookkeepers concerns - it feels like they are loosing a little control and authority by having others approve BUT you gain huge security and benefits knowing all has been approved in a documented way you can easily review - and your bookkeeper will adjust. Segregation of duties is vastly improved with this product. We just implemented COR360 (cloud based) and we like it's benefits of electronic distribution to approvers (we are national) immediate reviews of invoice approval process, no paper, tracking of invoices received not yet approved, auto feed into our Dynamics accounting system, EE self service (and my boss loves it) - downside is it is not as flexible as it might be (many find it hard selecting the right account to charge costs to), it does not have the most up to date look and feel and the transition to it was hard for some to embrace the change.

Aaron Mudry
Title: Controller
Company: OpenSymmetry
(Controller, OpenSymmetry) |

We just completed a two month implementation of Concur invoice. The implementation contact was fantastic and we expect a lot from the system. We are a smaller company ($30M) with only 1 primary AP but as we grow we would like this to help us scale. The pricing was very reasonable. The solution offers OCR scanning by Concur resources before it gets to us, as well as a vendor portal for our vendors to get status updates without having to call. ACH payments will be made through the tool and remittance advices will be sent to vendors as well, which we like. We will also have more control over the processing as invoices are automatically routed to the budget owners based on some predefined defaults before they are looked at by our AP resource, which will limit the amount of time spent on invoices that inevitably become rejected. Invoices will come to a central location, which we also like because we'll have full visibility into invoices that have been received. We have not implemented web services yet which should automate the integration between our ERP and the tool but that is on our roadmap for the next couple of months. I would give them a look and maybe ask for a demo.

Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

Dear Anonymous (CFO),

Your bookkeeper is suggesting a weak internal control environment.

Best case scenario, (s)he is looking to keep tasks off of your shoulders in order to make things easier for you.

Worst case scenario, (s)he is embezzling and needs you to abdicate the approval function.

Either way, it keeps you from the approval function which is part of the CFO role.

It makes me uncomfortable to think that a bookkeeper is refusing instructions from a CFO. Sounds like a review of everyone/s contribution to the team is in order.

Bill.com is a great package and I agree with you as to its utility and the fact that it does not create more work. Private message me if you'd like to speak some more.

Benjamin Rodman
Title: Financial Analyst
Company: Booster Enterprises
LinkedIn Profile
(Financial Analyst, Booster Enterprises) |

Hey Bryan,
Definitely pay attention to what others here are saying regarding reviewing what your needs really are. One of the big things for us was ease of integration with our current ERP system.

We're just finishing our implementation of AvidXchange. We looked at both Concur (already mentioned by Aaron) and AvidXchange, but Avid gave us a better deal. We use Concur for our T&E and have been pleased, but cheaper solutions can be found. The integration process has been relatively painless. Avid gives a 45 day implementation guarantee and their implementation team has been extremely helpful.

One thing you will want to make sure you understand is the way transactions appear on your bank statements when payments are made on your behalf. We still haven't found a perfect solution for this, but for now we get a daily report from the Fed with all ACH payment details.

Definitely find a couple that you like and schedule demos. You'll be able to get a good feel for the products and you will have opportunity to ask questions specific to your needs to someone who has a good feel for the product. Make sure that when you're getting your questions answered, it's not just your salesperson trying to close a sale.

If you have any questions specific to Avid, please feel free to reach out to me.

Robert Israch
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Tipalti
LinkedIn Profile
(Chief Marketing Officer, Tipalti) |

One more solution to consider in addition to those mentioned already would be Tipalti. It's stronger for self-service supplier onboarding, tax compliance, OCR and AI-based invoice processing, global payments, and extending early payments offers to suppliers. Rob

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