In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, streamlined accounts payable (AP) processes can be the difference between being the best and falling behind the rest. Automation tools help mid to large-sized enterprises manage accounts receivable and payables more efficiently. They eliminate manual tasks, reduce processing costs, reduce time spent on processing payments, minimize errors, improve data accuracy, and provide better visibility into cash flows.
With all of those improvements, it’s estimated automation can save businesses 81% of their current AP costs. AP automation gives businesses the advantage they need to do more with less.
In this article, we will explore some of the best accounts payable automation software solutions currently on the market and how they can help your business save time and money while increasing efficiency.
- AP automation software improves the efficiency of the accounts payables function.
- It removes paper and manual processes and automates invoice capture, approval routing, data entry, and payment automation.
- AP departments benefit from streamlining processes, reducing errors, reducing costs, improving vendor relationships, and enhancing cash flow oversight.
What is Accounts Payable Automation?
Accounts payable (AP) automation is a process of streamlining and automating the activities associated with invoice payments. Instead of manually entering information into systems, it leverages technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Just as digitization of invoices allowed us to do away with paper invoice problems, AP software reduces the risks of human error so that AP teams can work on more important responsibilities. In the future, we can expect that artificial intelligence will further enhance these benefits, making AP automation software even faster and more accurate.
What is AP Automation Software?
Accounts payable automation software is an integrated set of tools designed specifically to improve the efficiency of the accounts payables function. Where the accounts payable department would have once had to enter data manually, much of the information can now be automatically uploaded, whether paper or paperless, and actioned through automation. For example, AP automation software now handles key activities such as invoice capture, approval routing, data entry, and payment automation.
The key features of AP automation software are:
Automate accounts payable processes
Automatically import and process invoices, complete automatic three-way matches with existing purchase orders, receipts and invoices, route them for approval, post for payment, and more.
Automate the invoice approval process with a built-in workflow engine that allows you to define and manage your own business rules. Route invoices for approval in real time and track the progress of each invoice.
Data entry & capture
Automatically extract data from invoices, attach additional documents to invoices, and store them securely for easy access. Automatic, touchless extraction reduces duplicate invoices and bottlenecks that occur as a result of inaccurate data.
Optimize the way you pay invoices by automating payments and eliminating manual processes. Automatically update payment schedules, post payments directly to your ERP system, and more.
Automatically capture invoices and route them for approval. This eliminates the time spent on manually entering data and reduces errors.
Reporting & analytics
Gain insights into your AP process with detailed reporting and analytics. Track invoices, payment activities, and cash flow in real time.
Security & compliance
Ensure that all information is secure, compliant, and accurately captured. Automatically track changes and audit trails to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations.
The Benefits of AP Automation Software
Many of the benefits of AP automation software have already been touched on lightly throughout the beginning of this article, but they are worth exploring and explaining in more detail.
Streamlining AP processes
The overarching benefit of AP automation software is that it helps streamline the accounts payable process. By automating manual tasks, the AP department can focus on value-adding activities. Their time no longer needs to be spent at a keyboard entering data.
Reducing manual errors and improving accuracy
Removing manual data entry from staff comes with the extra benefit of reducing manual errors. People make errors when time is split across different activities or we have things happening in our world. Automating manual processes eliminates the chances of human error, reducing late payments and increasing payment accuracy.
Improving vendor relationships and communication
AP software can help track and manage conversations between staff and vendors and provide visibility into expected payment dates. This level of increased transparency and payment proactivity could also benefit from early payment discounts through suppliers that offer such deals.
Enhancing workflows, efficiency, and productivity
By automating processes like invoice capture, approval routing, data entry, and payment automation, businesses can dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete a task. This, in turn, saves money and improves overall productivity across the business
Increasing cost savings and ROI
Automation helps to reduce errors and rework, which subsequently works to eliminate unnecessary payment fees. Fewer mistakes mean fewer costly corrections. The efficiency improvements that come with AP automation also remove the need for additional staff or outsourcing certain services.
Real-time visibility into liquidity
AP automation software helps businesses have greater visibility into their cash flows and liquidity. This means that staff can make better decisions and remain up-to-date on the business’s financial health at all times.
Integrates into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
As with all tools worth using, the best AP automation software can be easily integrated into your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Top 10 AP Automation Software Solutions in the Market
There are many AP automation solutions available in the market today. Here we have listed the best for medium to large businesses
Tipalti is a global payables automation platform that simplifies and streamlines the accounts payable process for businesses. Companies can automate their supplier payment operations, reduce manual tasks, enhance financial controls, and improve overall efficiency.
- Supplier Onboarding: Seamless supplier onboarding process to maintain up-to-date supplier information, supplier invoices, and compliance with tax regulations and payment preferences.
- Invoice Management: Automated invoice capture, data extraction, and matching against purchase orders, as well as intelligent ap workflow automation to let businesses manage the entire invoice lifecycle.
- Global Payment Processing: Wire transfers, ACH, eCheck, PayPal, and local bank transfers.
- Compliance and Risk Management: Adherence to tax regulations, anti-money laundering (AML) laws, and other financial regulations.
- Analytics and Reporting: Comprehensive reporting and analytics to gain insights into payment performance, cash flow management, and supplier trends.
Tipalti offers tailored pricing based on each customer’s specific needs and requirements. Their website lists pricing only for the basic plan, the Tipalti Express, which starts at $149 per month and increases as add-ons are required.
Sage Intacct is a cloud-based financial management solution designed to streamline and automate critical financial processes for businesses of all sizes.
- Core Financials: A powerful suite of core financial management tools, including general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, cash management, and financial reporting.
- Advanced Reporting and Dashboards: Intuitive reporting and customizable dashboards, giving access to real-time financial insights and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Automation and Efficiency: Automates time-consuming financial tasks such as invoice processing, billing, and revenue recognition.
- Multi-Entity and Global Consolidations: Seamlessly handles financial management for multiple entities and provides consolidated financial reporting.
- Integration and Scalability: Seamless integration with other business systems, including CRM, payroll, and industry-specific applications.
Sage Intacct offers customized pricing based on each customer’s specific needs and requirements. Their website has no pricing guide, but some online sources suggest pricing starts at $15,000 per year for a single-user system.
NetSuite is a comprehensive cloud-based business management suite for businesses of all sizes to streamline operations and drive growth. NetSuite integrates key business functions such as financial management, ERP, CRM, e-commerce, and more.
- Financial Management: Managing accounting, financial planning, budgeting, and reporting.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): NetSuite’s ERP module enables businesses to manage their core operations, including inventory management, order management, supply chain, and manufacturing.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Effectively manage customer relationships, sales, and marketing activities.
- E-commerce and Omnichannel: Businesses can launch and manage online stores, integrate with marketplaces, and provide seamless omnichannel experiences.
- Business Intelligence and Analytics: Real-time insights into key business metrics and performance indicators.
NetSuite’s pricing is tailored to each business based on factors such as the number of users, modules required, and the complexity of implementation. There is no set pricing on their website, but online sources suggest the basic plans begin at $99 per month.
QuickBooks is an accounting software designed for small and medium-sized businesses, providing a comprehensive suite of tools to simplify financial management. QuickBooks is known for its user-friendly interface, robust features, and seamless integration capabilities.
- Bookkeeping and Financial Management: Expense tracking, invoicing, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting.
- Online Banking Integration: Connect banks and credit card accounts directly to the software.
- Payroll Management: Calculate and manage employee salaries, deductions, and tax withholdings. Supports automated payroll tax calculations and filings.
- Invoicing and Payment Processing: Supports online payment options, allowing customers to pay invoices electronically. Tracks payment status and helps manage outstanding invoices.
- Third-Party Integrations: Integration capabilities with numerous business applications and services, including e-commerce platforms, CRM systems, expense management tools, and more.
QuickBooks pricing plans are as follows:
- QuickBooks Self-Employed: Starts at $15 per month.
- QuickBooks Simple Start: Starts at $30 per month.
- QuickBooks Essentials: Starts at $55 per month.
- QuickBooks Plus: Starts at $85 per month.
- QuickBooks Advanced: Starts at $200 per month.
Airbase is a spend management platform that helps businesses streamline and automate their spending cycle. Airbase offers a unified solution to manage all aspects of business spending, from expense management to accounts payable automation.
- Expense Management: Submit, track, and manage expenses with receipt capture, automated expense categorization, and customizable approval workflows.
- Corporate Cards: Virtual and physical corporate cards that seamlessly integrate with expense management.
- Accounts Payable Automation: Enabling businesses to digitize and streamline invoice approval, payment execution, and vendor management.
- Budgeting and Spend Controls: Robust budgeting and spend control features allow CFOs or finance teams to set budgets, track spending against budgeted amounts, and enforce spending policies.
- Integrations and Reporting: Integrates with popular accounting systems, such as QuickBooks and NetSuite, to seamlessly sync financial data.
Airbase offers three different plans; 1. Standard, for up to 200 employees; 2. Premium, for up to 500 employees; 3. Enterprise, for up to 5,000 employees. There is no pricing listed online. Companies will have to contact Airbase for a quote.
BILL is a billing and subscription management platform that simplifies the processes of billing, invoicing, and revenue management. It allows companies to streamline their billing operations, improve cash flow, and enhance customer experiences for recurring subscriptions, usage-based billing, or one-time payments.
- Subscription Management: Create and manage recurring billing models for subscription-based services. It supports various billing frequencies, customizable plans, and automatic renewal processes.
- Flexible Billing Models: Supports usage-based billing, tiered pricing, one-time charges, and more.
- Automated Invoicing and Payment Collection: Automate invoicing processes, generate accurate invoices, and deliver them to customers via email or other channels.
- Revenue Recognition and Reporting: Automates revenue recognition based on recognized accounting standards and generates reports to track revenue, analyze performance, and ensure compliance with financial regulations.
- Integration and API: BILL integrates with popular CRM systems, accounting software, and other business applications.
BILL’s plans are priced as follows:
- Essentials: $45 per user per month
- Team: $55 per user per month
- Corporate: $79 per user per month
- Enterprise: pricing upon request
SAP Concur provides integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solutions designed to simplify and automate key business processes. Part of the SAP family, Concur helps organizations to optimize their spend management, streamline operations, and gain real-time visibility into their financial data.
- Travel Management: Comprehensive travel management system that enables businesses to manage and control their travel bookings, expenses, and policies.
- Expense Management: Simplify expense management by automating the process from receipt capture to reimbursement.
- Invoice Management: Streamline the accounts payable process by automating invoice capture, approval workflows, and payment reconciliation.
- Compliance and Policy Controls: Configurable policy rules, automated approval workflows, and real-time monitoring of expenses and travel bookings.
- Reporting and Analytics: Valuable insights into spending patterns, trends, and policy compliance through customized reports and monitoring of key metrics.
SAP solutions are often bundled together, making it difficult for the company to publish set pricing online. Companies will need to request a quote through SAP Concur’s website.
Melio is a digital payment platform designed to simplify and streamline business payments for small and medium-sized businesses. The platform simplifies paying bills, requesting customer payments, and scheduling recurring payments.
- Bill Payment: Add and manage vendors, schedule payments, and track payment statuses in real time.
- Invoicing and Payment Requests: Customized invoice branding, automatic payment reminders, and the option for customers to pay online using their preferred payment method.
- Payment Scheduling and Recurring Payments: Schedule one-time or recurring payments, and set up regular payments for rent, utilities, or subscription services.
- Vendor Management: Easy vendor onboarding and management that securely stores vendor information, manages contact details, and categorizes vendors for better organization.
- Multi-User Access and Permissions: Invite team members and assign different levels of access and permissions.
Melio is a pay-for-use platform with no subscription fees. If you only want to send and receive ACH bank transfers, it’s entirely free. There are per-transaction fees to pay by card, send international bank transfers, or send checks to vendors.
Coupa is a cloud-based spend management platform for streamlining procurement, expenses, and invoicing processes.
- Procurement: Coupa’s procurement solution allows businesses to centralize and automate their purchasing processes with tools for requisitioning, supplier management, contract management, and purchase order creation.
- Expense Management: User-friendly platform for employees to submit, track, and manage their expenses through receipt capture, automated expense categorization, and customizable approval workflows.
- Invoicing and Accounts Payable: Receive electronic invoices, automate approval workflows, and facilitate electronic payments.
- Supplier Collaboration: Supplier portals, self-service supplier onboarding, and performance tracking.
- Analytics and Reporting: Track key metrics, generate customizable reports, and leverage data for strategic decision-making and continuous improvement.
Coupa does not list its pricing online, but we do know that it is based on a subscription model tailored to the unique needs of its customers.
MineralTree is an accounts payable and payment automation solution that helps businesses streamline and digitize their AP processes. The platform enables businesses to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and gain real-time visibility into their payables by eliminating manual tasks and enabling seamless integration with accounting systems.
- Invoice Capture and Management: Digitally capture invoices from various sources, including email, mail, and electronic files, using advanced optical character recognition (OCR) technology to extract invoice data accurately.
- Workflow Automation: From invoice approval to payment processing, it provides customizable approval workflows, automatic routing, and notifications.
- Payment Automation: MineralTree supports various payment methods, including ACH transfers and virtual credit cards, and seamlessly integrates with banking systems.
- Vendor Management: Businesses can centralize vendor information, track payment terms, and manage vendor invoices and communications.
- Reporting and Analytics: Users can generate customized reports, track key metrics, and monitor payment trends.
MineralTree pricing is based on the number of invoices and payments processed, not the number of users or a subscription rate. There is no pricing listed online. Instead, companies will need to request a quote.
AP automation software is a critical component of your business tech stack, so invest the time and resources in selecting the right one. For best results, choose a solution that integrates seamlessly with your payment processing software. This ensures that you streamline your accounts payable processes, improve efficiency, and reduce manual errors in your payment workflows.
The good news? Stax integrates with leading accounting and AP software solutions in the market. Get in touch and discover how Stax can simplify processes, enhance productivity, and drive cost savings for your business.
What is AP software?
AP software, also known as accounts payable software, is a type of technology solution designed to streamline and automate the processes related to managing and processing accounts payable in a business. It typically includes features such as invoice processing, approval workflows, payment processing, vendor management, and reporting capabilities. AP software helps businesses efficiently handle their payable tasks, improve accuracy, reduce manual work, and enhance overall financial management.
What is AP automation software?
AP automation software is a specific category of AP software that focuses on automating the accounts payable processes. It leverages advanced technologies like optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks such as invoice capture, data extraction, invoice matching, approval routing, and payment execution. AP automation software aims to eliminate manual and repetitive tasks, reduce errors, enhance efficiency, and provide real-time visibility into the accounts payable process.
How much does AP automation cost?
The cost of AP automation software can vary depending on several factors, including the size of your business, the complexity of your accounts payable processes, the number of users, and the specific features and functionality required. Generally, AP automation software is offered on a subscription basis, and the pricing structure may be based on factors such as the number of invoices processed per month or the number of users accessing the system. It is advisable to reach out to AP automation software vendors or providers directly to get accurate pricing information tailored to your business needs.
What is the best AP automation software?
Finding the best AP automation software depends on your specific business requirements and preferences. There are several reputable AP automation software providers in the market, each with its own strengths and features.
Some popular options include:
To determine the best AP automation software for your business, evaluate each solution based on factors such as functionality, ease of use, integration capabilities, scalability, customer support, and pricing. And don’t forget to read reviews and get input from industry peers or consultants who have experience with AP automation software.