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- November 05, 2015
- Finance & AP
AP automation is on the rise. As the economy has shifted and we're back to driving improvement and change, there’s been a noticeable spike in the number of companies planning to use e-invoicing, according to PayStream Advisors, a finance and procurement consulting firm.
And, it’s not just giant enterprises that are planning to automate. Mid-market companies are getting into the game too. The lower entry fees and ease of integration of software-as-a-service and cloud delivery models are bringing automation within reach of organizations that don't have the technology resources or the budgets to do large implementation projects.
It’s a welcome shift, as AP is one of the last bastions of paper processing in the enterprise. But choosing a solution can be daunting. There are over 100 solution providers for accounts payable software alone. The finance and procurement needs of an organization vary based on a number of factors, so which one is right for you?
Based on their experience helping organizations select accounting, finance and procurement software, PayStream has created the Invoice Automation Navigator Report. It’s a comprehensive guide to selecting an AP Automation Solution, with a 12-category model for scoring any solution. PayStream has already done the work of narrowing down the list of vendors to 10 that provide a complete end-to-end solution. They’ve scored them based on numerous solution briefings conducted with product managers and executives of each vendor, along with in-depth product demos and Q&A sessions, use case studies and client interviews. They also gathered feedback from corporate benchmarking groups that report on their experiences with their AP automation providers. Coupa was one of the 10 vendors they scored, and we think they did a pretty thorough job and created a valuable resource for any company in the market for this type of solution. We had a chance to talk with them in-depth about the Navigator on a recent webinar.
The Navigator started as a simple spreadsheet to help clients compare prices, and has evolved into a sophisticated visual model that scores solutions in 12 categories, 10 of which are realated to functionality, including:
- Mail processing
- Invoice preparation and scanning
- Capture and data extraction
- Invoice matching and routing
- Exception management and invoice allocation
- AP dashboarding and workflow management
- Supplier portal and capabilities
- Payment initiation and execution
- Reporting and analysis
Only solutions that could address all ten categories were scored in the report.
The two remaining factors are versatility and deliverability. Versatility is a measure of the breadth of a solution and how applicable it is across all business types. How many industries do they work with? Are they private sector only? Does the solution really only make sense for organizations that are really large or really small, or do they cover the full gamut? Do they offer language and currency support for global organizations? In short, the more broadly applicable a provider is, the more versatile and the higher the score. Deliverability has to do with the customer experience, from pricing and implementation to user interface and mobile offerings.
The needs of a global organization vary significantly from a domestic one. As anyone that's operating globally knows, there are extensive e-invoicing requirements for sending and keeping track of invoices in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The Navigator addresses global capabilities for mail processing, invoice capture and scanning, and e-invoicing. One of the factors considered when scoring those categories was the number of locations in countries where the provider could process paper invoices. Global tax compliance for VAT and language and currency support were considered in scoring the versatility of solutions.
Versatility scores also included integration with GL and ERP systems. Providers reported on how many different ERPs they've had successful integration with, the typical length of implementation and integration, as well on customer successes.
We think the Navigator is a great resource for anyone considering AP automation. To get it, click here.