Blog|5 min

Digitize Your Accounts Payable: Part 1—Starting Out

Mark Gervase, Director, Product Marketing

Digitizing and automating accounts payable grants companies a quantifiable edge. It allows you to enhance efficiency, transparency, and go mobile—valuable traits for today’s businesses that rely on ultra-responsiveness and the ability to handle matters no matter where you are.

Why you should digitize your AP

Physical checks still comprise an astounding number of business payments each year—at last count nearly 90% of all business payments are made offline. That means many companies still rely on past-their-prime paper checks to pay their bills—printing them, chasing down the signer, stuffing them in envelopes, mailing them, waiting for them to clear, and then manually reconciling them. Paper checks lack in efficiency, create cloudy cash flow, and suck up a sizable portion of valuable time for both parties involved in the transaction.

This generations-old experience can be eliminated by digitizing your AP.

Digital business payments offer a whole new level of convenience.

One login to your cloud-based bill payment solution and all of your AP activities are at your fingertips. You can view bills that are pending payment, recently paid bills, and all relevant notes. All AP history is consolidated and easy to locate. Payments process in a matter of minutes versus days or weeks—especially with ACH payments that come directly from your banking account. Plus, digital payments allow you to pay in multiple formats, as well as schedule payments in advance. And don’t forget mobile access. With a mobile app, you can take care of AP no matter where you are. A few swipes and you’re done.

Digital payments save time and money.

That lengthy process you have to undergo to pay with a paper check? You can eliminate it completely with online payments. And let’s not forget cost savings. You no longer need check stock, magnetic ink, check printing software, envelopes, stamps, and more. And since it takes less time and effort to process bills, you can re-direct employee time to more valuable activities.

Digital payments protect your business.

Cloud-based bill pay solutions offer an unparalleled level of security, applying the same protection and encryption required by banks. Automated digital payment workflows, reinforced by the solution, ensure that the appropriate parties review and approve bills before they can even be submitted for payment. No more paper check fraud and theft of banking account or routing numbers. Plus, every step of the review and approval process is automatically documented in audit-ready trails.

Digital payments offer a more predictable cash flow.

Automated payments are deducted and accounted for much more quickly than paper checks. That speed and transparency help your company eliminate bounced checks because you know exactly what bills have been paid and how they affect your banking accounts.

How to get started with digital AP and payments

Start in the cloud. A cloud-based bill payment solution lets you quickly convert paper files into digital documents. You can scan paper bills and have vendors email bills to a dedicated email address. This way, all new bills will automatically appear on your dashboard. That’s it. You can also explore if the solution offers a service to manually key in past invoices and materials. You can then request that all your vendors submit bills digitally. Once they start to get paid faster, they’ll be more than happy to continue the process!

But what solution offers all of the above benefits and fits the needs of my business? Good question! And the answer is a digital bill pay solution that includes these key attributes:

  • Document management

  • Automation of workflows with role-based access

  • Ability to pay in multiple online formats (ACH / EFT payments, eChecks, etc.)

  • Automatic audit trails

  • Mobile access from any device

  • Integration with your accounting system (QuickBooks, Xero, Intacct, NetSuite, etc.)

In the next two blog posts of this series, we’ll discuss how to institute workflows and what to expect from the “end game” of digital payments.

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