Accounts Payable Automation – Top Features for 2020

The top features/requirements to expect in Accounts Payable Automation software in 2020 and forward…

 

Core Functionality ⛭

  1. Optical Character Recognition
    • A good OCR engine is crucial for A/P Automation. In a perfect world, an invoice is received electronically, all fields are read (amount, date, vendor, etc.) & the invoice can be submitted for approval with little to no effort. Be sure to discuss the OCR success rate with the vendor when evaluating a solution.
  2. Auto-Updating OCR
    • Look for solutions that AUTOMATICALLY detect new invoice formats and can find the data.  Forever on-going maintenance to “set up” OCR with each new vendor is not appealing and shouldn’t be required with a good OCR engine.
  3. Emailed / Scanned Documents
    • A/P Automation solutions should provide the ability to email documents and/or manually upload documents to begin the 
  4. Flexible Workflows
    • Workflows should exist for approvals but those workflows should also be flexible? Want 3 approvals (manager–>manager’s manager–>accounting), want just 1 approval? Ensure the workflow capabilities fit you.
  5. 3-Way Matching
    • Automated purchase orders, shipments and invoice matching will provide significant time-savings

Integrations 🔗

  1. Accounting/ERP
    • Solutions should have native integrations with your accounting platform. If they don’t they should have simple ways to get you connected.
  2. 2-Way Integrations
    • The A/P Automation solution is rarely the system of record (the ultimate truth). It’s typical to manage vendors/payees in another solution & then use that information in your A/P Automation solution. Therefore, it should be just as important to integrate data into the solution as it is to integrate data from the solution.
  3. Purchase Orders
    • 3-way matching going to be of need? Ensure the ability to import purchase orders to assist with this process is available.

Add-Ons Modules ➕

  1. Payments
    • There are 2-sides to Accounts Payable. Processing the invoice & issuing the payment. Many solutions provide abilities to streamline the payment process to complete the entire A/P cycle. 
  2. Expense Reporting
    • Expense reports and A/P go hand-in-hand and many solutions provide modules to handle both. There can be a benefit to having both in the same place for reporting and consistency’s sake.
  3. Accounts Receivable Automation
    • A/R & A/P. 2 peas in a pod & should all be able to be encompassed within the same solution if desired.

Reporting 📊

  1. Ad-Hoc Reporting
    • Canned reports are meh. The power of reporting should be in your hands via ad-hoc reporting capabilities (ie.) move your data around and build your own reports).
  2. Budgeting
    • Many solutions offer budgeting capabilities to help your organization ensure your expenses are staying in-line.
  3. Dashboards
    • Visualizing data is key, especially for high-level users.

Deployment ☁️

  1. On-Prem
    • Do your research before on if on-prem or cloud offerings make more sense for your organizations. Accounts Payable Automation solutions will continue offering both.
  2. Cloud
  3. Hybrid
    • Some solutions offer a blend of both, cloud components along w/ on-prem.

Miscellaneous 📰

  1. Organizational Structure
    • Solutions should provide you with the ability to set up your org chart for transactions, reporting, security, and/or workflow purposes.
  2. User-Defined Fields
    • Ensure your solution provides you with plenty of ability to capture any information that your business requires.
  3. Supporting Documents
    • A/P processors and approvers occasionally need detailed support in order to process the document. Ensure you can attach this additional support to documents.
  4. Transaction Processing Defaults
    • The key to automation is obviously to have minimal manual interaction. If you can think of defaults that should be able to be set in the system (let’s say an A/P account depending on the user), look for solutions where you’re able to implement your logic.
  5. Multi-Currency
  6. Security
    • Security for processors, security for approvers, security for making changes/deleting, security by Org Structure.
  7. Mobile App
    • Being able to process invoices on the go is great but being able to approve them on the go is even greater. Look for mobile apps or at least mobile-friendly solutions.

Remember that missed requirements/features are the highest contributing factor (~71%) to software implementation failures*. Be thorough with your requirements, work closely with the solution vendors to ensure there is a fit, and ensure you have the best solution that fits your business.

What requirements/features do you expect to see in your 2020 A/P Automation software solution?

 

*Source: What Leads to Software Implementation Successes/Failures | Solugence Market Research Results 2019

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