6 tools to simplify your accounts payable process

With the advent of modern technology solutions, few brands or organizations have manual accounts payable processes today. If you do, you absolutely need to wake up and get with the times.

You could be spending more than 70 percent above budget on manual, paper-based processes, and there’s a much easier way available.

That said, even though abundant automation and invoice management tools are available, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve chosen the right one. There are a lot of options, especially when it comes to simplifying and eliminating the tedium.

Solo entrepreneurs have it even more difficult on this front, because they don’t always have others to compare their progress with. Organizations, for instance, usually have teams or groups to gather additional reports.

We’re going to take a quick look at some of our favorite tools, which you can undoubtedly use to boost your entire system.

Payment Solution Tool

 You’ll need a unique payment solution tool that aids your customers in both paying for a transaction, and taking advantage of various promotions and offers. If your site uses WordPress, you should be using a WP e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce.

Though there are several e-commerce plugins available for WordPress sites, WooCommerce is the most popular. It’s easy to upload products, descriptions and images, track orders and manage inventory. Also, it’s compatible with a host of common payment gateways such as Square, Stripe and PayPal.

Finally, you can upgrade the base platform to expand and include additional features and support as you need it. You can add extra payment gateways and portals, edit shipping options, add slider carousels and content and anything else you need.

Basically, if your site uses WordPress and has an e-commerce platform, this is the plugin you need.

Recommendation: WooCommerce

Cache Tools

Hummingbird site performance test.

One issue that tends to crop up with modern sites — especially when they rely on high-quality images and videos — is that performance can be negatively impacted. This is because the systems, devices and, yes, remote servers are under heavier performance loads.

For whatever reason, it can cause your website to load sluggishly, which is frustrating in the heat of the moment. Your customers will notice this even more when trying to add items to a cart, check out or browse your inventory online.

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A slow website means less business and fewer happy customers. The numbers support this idea, too. Forty-seven percent of consumers will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.

You can offset slow site speeds by deploying cache and cloud storage tools that cut down on load times and the resources needed to display a site.

Any cache tool will do, and if you are running WordPress, there are a variety of plugins at your disposal. We recommend using Hummingbird, which makes the entire setup and delivery process for your cache quick and painless.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with your accounts payable process, well, you’ll want to track, monitor, and store everything that’s happening with your e-commerce portal. Storage and web cache tools can help you make this happen, while also maintaining decent performance for your users. You’ll still need analytics tools, obviously. A cache system compliments that, and so many other elements of your program.

Recommendation: Hummingbird

Invoice Processing Tools

With invoice tools like InvoiceAction, you have everything you need to manage the data exchange and purchase order processing systems.

It can help streamline payment approvals, by digitizing all the necessary documents used during the order approval process. It can also automate the management processes you would normally oversee manually, including identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, reducing cycle types, and integration with your ERP system.

This one  tool you should never be without.

Recommendation: InvoiceAction

Electronic Document Management

With today’s emphasis on digital platforms, you need a way to marry your data with your accounting and reporting. The only natural way to do this is to compile and organize it in terms of documents and files.

It’s about more than just stashing them all in a digital closet or directory, however. You’ll want to take all your content, invoices, reports and documents and store them categorically using a relational database. This will provide you with the support and interface to identify and review this content at a later time.

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Some examples of this include eFileCabinet, Content Central, Shelf, ViewCenter, FileHold, Quip and more.

Recommendation: Docuware

OCR and Data Verification Tools

OCR stands for optical character recognition, which is necessary to make your accounts payable team happier and more organized. The combination of this tool and data verification procedures can help alleviate manual data entry and invoice processing.

Without OCR tools in place, you’ll need to scale by increasing human labor and resources, just to keep up with processing demands. That does not include analyzing or reviewing the incoming data and information that directly relates to those processed materials.

More importantly, OCR can help you and your team come up with a highly efficient accounts payable process, to streamline the inner workings and improve existing strategies. A good tool is designed to both mirror and optimize the kind of object recognition your human laborers would encounter in manual processing. Such a tool is invaluable, especially if your goal is to automate or slim down the demands of your invoicing process.

Recommendation: NextProcess

Payment Optimization Technology

When dealing with vendors and suppliers, payment optimization technology is absolutely critical to not only streamlining this experience, but monetizing it — if you do things correctly. It’s a broad term that refers to a tool, dashboard or system that allows you to pay vendors based on their preferred method.

Why is this so important? Well, because conventional payment systems such as checks are nearly obsolete. Most payments are both automated and electronic. If and when you do it right, you can actually get paid for paying, through the use of virtual credit systems and more. This is especially true if you can convert all your suppliers and vendors to electronic payments.

Some examples of this include Worldpay, Inspire Pay, TriZetto and many others.

Recommendation: Adyen

With these six tools in hand, accounts payable work has never looked less intimidating.

About the author

— Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a technologically inclined writer whose work has appeared on Motherboard, MakeUseOf, Lifehacker and The Huffington Post. You can read more posts by Kayla on her blog, Productivity Bytes.

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