Your accounts payable software is vital for paying your vendors and suppliers in a seamless way. With debts and invoices paid on time, your company can focus on getting the most value out of relationships with an array of business partners.
But the market is flooded with all sorts of payable software products. Which one to choose? How do different tools compare against each other?
To help you answer this question and narrow down your options, we’ve put together a list of the twelve best accounts payable software products. Selecting the right tool for your needs is critical for scaling your business and taking on your competitors.
Top 12 Accounts Payable Platforms
- Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Oracle EPM Cloud
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage Intacct
What is Accounts Payable Software?
Accounts payable (AP) software is designed to automate business payment processes from start to finish by leveraging sets of instructions that are customized to each business process. The software filters, categorizes, matches, and validates critical accounting information that is then pushed through the accounting system to be recorded.
AP is also an umbrella term for niche software that serves specific functions under the AP category. For example, both enterprise resource management (ERP) systems like NetSuite and AP automation solutions like Tipalti are AP software solutions. AP teams implement accounts payable software solutions to process, record, and pay discounted vendor invoices.
Accounts payable software may require manual tasks like data entry and matching paper invoices with purchase orders and receivers, but the best automation solutions are designed to reduce these manual tasks by up to 80%.
Additional AP software functions include:
- Processing and recording vendor invoices for purchases and services with trade credit terms
- Account coding of the short-term liability and the asset or expense
- Document matching
- Bill payments
- Aging and cash disbursement reports
- General ledger posting
AP automation software creates the ultimate accounts payable system by reducing accounts payable workload,and human error.
What Is an Accounts Payable System?
An accounts payable system is an organized (and often automated) system that is responsible for paying vendors and suppliers for goods and services purchased by its company. The ultimate goal is to ensure a business pays its debts on time, to the correct vendors, for the correct amounts.
The right AP automation software setup can guarantee that the AP system runs as securely and efficiently as possible.
Top Features of Accounts Payable Automation Software
An AP automation solution eliminates manual processes by automating the accounts payable payment process to speed up day-to-day AP processes. Accounts payable automation software includes OCR invoice scanning, accounts payable invoice processing software, automated approvals, global cross-border payments, and accounts payable document management software.
Strong accounts payable automation software adds self-service supplier onboarding, tax compliance, fraud prevention, payment discounts optimization, electronic document matching, online multi-currency global mass payments, secure payment methods, automatic payments reconciliation, and spend and cash management. AP automation software streamlines payable processes, reducing data entry and paper check payments.
Breaking Down the 12 Best Accounts Payable Software Platforms
Finding the right AP automation software setup ensures that your AP system runs securely and efficiently. Here’s a breakdown of the 12 best accounts payable software platforms on the market and the specific functions and types of companies they serve:
Epicor offers global on-premises and cloud ERP systems for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, retailers, and service industries featuring Industrial IoT capabilities for supply chain and manufacturing. In addition, its ERP system includes accounts payable software that streamlines the scaling process with end-to-end payables.
Epicor’s key value propositions are its flexibility and customization options. These options let you structure your data and information to offer maximum visibility into the costs associated with your manufacturing process.
The more you know about the AP process, the simpler it is to increase productivity, profitability, and growth options. While Epicor is useful to companies of all sizes, it’s specifically helpful for bigger teams that need to track a wide range of expenses or profits across multiple verticals.
Best for: Companies of all sizes looking to grow their business
Price Range: $$–$$$
FreshBooks is cloud-based accounting software that includes accounts payable and payments.
Built for business owners and accountants, FreshBooks is easy to use and offers customizable templates and a unified dashboard. Users can add custom logos, specific line items, card payment options, and even set payment reminders.
These features make it an ideal tool for small business owners who need a polished and organized accounts payable solution without the unnecessary complexities. It’s also a popular option for freelancers or contract employees who need to track expenses closely for tax season.
Best for: Small businesses without a large or dedicated finance team
Price Range: $
Lightyear is an intuitive cloud platform that consolidates purchasing, bookkeeping, and billing information into one location. Its purchasing and accounts payable software offers automated accounting and inventory sync capabilities.
These unique, cross-platform features offer companies a great way to track resources across teams and locations. Also, teams get to create accurate purchase orders that can easily be itemized with Lightyear’s automated bookkeeping.
Best for: Large and enterprise-level teams with multiple locations or product offerings
Price Range: $$–$$$
4. Microsoft Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 is a Microsoft product with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer resource planning (CRM). Both software also include accounts payable solutions for a wide range of Microsoft-friendly companies.
Its automation capabilities allow for quick and seamless integrations with Microsoft products since they’re part of the same parent corporation. It’s a software platform most teams are already familiar with, which helps to mitigate the risks of deploying new technology
Best for: Microsoft-friendly companies from small businesses to large corporations
Price Range: $–$$$
NetSuite is a cloud ERP system with a wide range of modules that serve different business functions, including accounts payable. NetSuite allows for seamless integration with popular AP platforms to increase the efficiency of its base product.
NetSuite offers real-time insight into customer invoicing and payment details, reporting, and analytics without running new reports for each question you have. This accuracy and flexibility make it an ideal tool for companies that need to make decisions to grow quickly, like early-stage startups.
Best for: Pre-revenue startups to small and mid-sized companies
Price Range: $$$
6. Oracle EPM Cloud
Oracle EPM is a high-end cloud software system for resource planning, budgeting, and forecasting. It integrates with EnterpriseOne software and enables companies to make smart business moves like consolidating financials or streamlining reporting.
You gain a more complete understanding of your overall expenses and revenue sources when you see it all in one place. Oracle EPM’s inclusive dashboard makes it the perfect solution for companies that need direct visibility of accounting details.
Best for: Any sized company with complex accounting needs
Price Range: $$$
7. QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online is the cloud-based version of QuickBooks accounting software. QuickBooks Online offers one of the best accounts payable software for small businesses. Its accounting offers seamless integrations with third-party add-ons for accounts payable automation through the QuickBooks Apps Store.
Optional features of QuickBooks Online use Intuit Merchant Services for payment processing, so users can accept credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, wire transfers, and ACH electronic bank transfers.
Best for: Small and mid-market companies (with up to 25 users) that take a wide range of payment methods
Price Range: $–$$
8. Sage Intacct
Sage Intacct is a cloud-based, AICPA-endorsed ERP accounting software system. It includes accounts payable software with automated payables workflows. It offers real-time tracking and views of payments, approvals, and reports for an added fee. You can also purchase third-party AP automation apps to increase Sage Intacct’s capabilities and efficiency.
Sage Intacct is specifically designed for non-profit companies. It serves organizations from NGOs and charities to schools and faith-based companies. Sage Intacct uses open APIs to let software developers customize their workspaces without add-ons or extras.
Best for: Non-profit companies and small businesses with strict regulatory requirements
Price Range: $$–$$$
SAP is a high-end cloud ERP system for a wide range of business processes. SAP, an Oracle ERP competitor, includes accounts payable software for large businesses.
SAP also offers an ERP solution for small businesses, called SAP Business One. And SAP Business ByDesign is geared toward growing mid-sized businesses.
Finance capabilities of SAP’s ERP include support for usage-based billing models, AI-driven financial insights, automated payables matching, and more.
Best for: Mid-sized and large enterprise companies
Price Range: $$$
Stampli combines AP communication, documentation, and payments into one collaborative platform. Its templates let you put all communications at the top of the invoices, so approvers, vendors, and other involved parties can instantly understand what needs to be done. This enables 5x faster approvals, which results in faster payments.
Stampli’s AI solution, Billy the Bot, also learns as it goes to make coding and notification automations more efficient.
Best for: All-sized companies with complex communications that need fast results
Price Range: $–$$
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Tipalti is a cloud-based integration and SaaS add-on software solution that automates accounts payable processes. The company offers top accounts payable automation software features, including self-service supplier onboarding, invoice automation, and automated invoice approval workflows. Its AP software solution also offers bill pay, tax compliance, and fraud reduction to help you maintain compliant accounting practices.
Tipalti offers a platform that supports users across a number of scenarios, including:
- Supplier management
- Tax compliance
- Invoice management
- Global payments
- AP reporting and reconciliation
- ERP integration
Tipalti’s wide range of integrations helps clients reduce their AP workload up to 80% and see a 25% increase in financial closes and controls.
Best for: High-growth potential small businesses to large companies that want to ease their AP workload
Price Range: $$
Xero is a New Zealand-based cloud accounting software that includes accounts payable and vendor payments. Like its competitor, QuickBooks Online, Xero integrates with Bill.com, an accounts payable add-on. Xero is designed specifically for small business owners and accountants that want to access their accounting software from anywhere in the world.
Despite Xero’s advantages, the software does lack some payment features. This is particularly the case for international businesses that need the ability to complete cross-border transactions within regulatory compliance.
Best for: Small businesses and mid-sized companies that already use Bill.com or a similar solution
Price Range: $
How to Choose the Best Accounts Payable Automation Software
1. Define Your AP Landscape
It’s imperative to understand the intricacies involved in your invoice processing This will help define your AP landscape and know what features a software must have to meet business needs.
Important questions to help define your AP ecosystem include:
- How does your company receive vendor invoices?
- Is vendor invoicing in a paper, XML, or PDF format?
- Do you receive some invoices on paper or in PDF format via email?
An AP automation software worth investing in will allow you to receive supplier invoices in a variety of formats and will support turning them into digital copies through built-in optical character recognition (OCR) scanning.
Defining an AP landscape also consists of outlining your invoice workflow. The goal is to speed up processing time by automating manual tasks, particularly the repetitive and tedious ones. Ask any AP department employee, and they will quickly attest to the importance of properly processing invoices.
Expense invoices that aren’t coded and distributed correctly hinder the approval workflow and payment process. Additionally, when purchase order (PO) invoices aren’t matched according to their specific line levels, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint deviations and mitigate errors. Finally, it makes it difficult to pay vendors and suppliers on time.
Accounts payable automation software worth purchasing will automate coding and matching. It will integrate with your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and finance systems to deliver touchless invoice processing. To ensure that you choose the right software, consider how it will be configured to support your current workflows first.
2. Map Your AP Invoice Process
Defining the AP landscape involves mapping the accounts payable invoice process. There’s a good chance the AP process consists of two separate workflows: processing expense invoices that aren’t related to POs and processing ones that are.
You’ll need to identify your pain points in both of these workflows to ensure that you find the most helpful AP automation software. You can deploy software with all of the bells and whistles, but if those features don’t address your unique needs, your investment is going to be ill-spent.
The first step in mapping the AP invoice workflow is identifying how you handle non-PO-related expense invoices and PO-related direct spend invoices. Which steps are repetitive? Which ones are manual? Do you already have some steps that are automated? Where do bottlenecks occur? What type of invoice archiving are you using?
Some common pain points include:
- Invoices where pertinent line data isn’t synced between systems
- Invoice data deviations
- Lack of a central inbox for sending vendor invoices
- Too many people involved in invoice processing
- Human error due to manual invoice processing
- Invoice processing delays due to clunky AP systems
Identifying your pain points and AP challenges allow you to intelligently move forward in choosing the best accounts payable automation software.
3. Look for Centralized Information Management
It becomes difficult to keep track of all of your invoices when they aren’t managed in a central location. AP automation management software can tackle this problem. It ensures that all invoice elements, including the receiving of invoice receipts, extraction of data, and validation of data, are stored and processed in a location your team can easily access.
Software should make it possible for the entire accounts payable department to collaborate through an online, centralized platform, even if they are working from different offices. This is particularly helpful if you have multiple business locations.
4. Opt for Automated Tax Form Collection
Have you ever spent hours looking for a vendor’s specific tax ID number? Collecting and managing tax information becomes a major headache when AP processes are not automated, especially when working with global suppliers.
Paying close attention to detail helps your finance team remain in compliance with any relevant industry rules or regulations. Tax and regulatory compliance become much simpler when you deploy AP software that features automated tax form collection.
5. Define and Enforce Your Workflow Rules
You achieve the highest level of accounts payable efficiency by using AP software solutions that allow you to not just define workflow rules but enforce them. These rules and enforcement processes lessen the likelihood of employees completing the same task twice, like making a double payment on an invoice.
Defining workflow rules involves setting tolerance ranges, such as those directed toward purchase order matching. These ranges can be customized to align with your company’s precise needs.
For example: if an invoice and PO can’t be matched using OCR scanning according to your set tolerance thresholds, the software can ping the appropriate entity for approval. This leads to a faster procure-to-pay cycle, which is vital to establishing positive long-term relationships with suppliers.
6. Embrace the Power of the Cloud
Installing an on-premises accounts payable automation software solution means you’ll need to deploy your own servers and perform your own system configurations. Stack these tasks on top of your existing AP landscape, and you’ll create a time-consuming and costly AP environment. Choosing AP automation software that operates via the cloud is a smart business decision and still allows you to create a strong internal AP framework.
Cloud accounts payable software can be configured to support your existing AP infrastructure and can scale on an as-needed basis. These software programs typically come with advanced analytics and metrics, easily allowing you to determine which AP business processes are hindering efficiency and which ones are improving it.
Common key performance indicators (KPIs) include:
- Percentage of invoices received versus the number of invoices being processed within a certain period of time, usually bi-weekly or monthly
- Average cost of processing each regular invoice
- Invoice cycle time
- Percentage of incorrect payments versus the percentage of total payments
- Percentage of early payment discounts versus the percentage of offered discounts
Tipalti: Your Ideal AP Software Solution
Each of the market’s top accounts payable software solutions offers specific strengths that can help you increase your productivity and ROI. Some are better at improving your B2B vendor payment efficiency, while others excel at helping companies manage their expenses. AP software also helps with reducing fraudulent activities and offering real-time business intelligence.
Tipalti’s cloud-based SaaS solution helps you realize and utilize the full benefits of automated payable solutions by streamlining, simplifying, and scaling your current processes.
Dubbed by Capterra as “The world’s most powerful payables automation solution,” Tipalti’s comprehensive approach to AP management provides end-to-end control and optimizes your payables workflow to equip your business to scale quickly and efficiently.
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