5 Essential Features of an AP Automation Online Portal
Online portals are an essential and innovative component to utilize when automating your accounts payable department. It’s also important to know what an AP automation online portal will offer, and why they’re important. When looking at different AP automation online portals, there are five essential features you should be looking for.
1. Unlimited Users
With an AP automation online portal that allows unlimited users, people from across the company can view important accounts payable metrics. This includes anyone from staff, to AP manager, to CFO. Depending on what authority level they are, users will have different access to certain information. For example, an AP manager could see the average approval days of each user, along with the AP department’s average as a whole. The AP staff users can instead see how they are performing individually. Users are also able to build customizable reports through their online dashboard to keep track of their most important metrics. This functionality is important as it brings awareness to the AP department of how they are performing—along with awareness to the rest of the company as to how profitable AP has been.
2. Direct Supplier Communications
Enterprise level accounts payable automation solutions that offer online portals will typically include features where you can comment directly on the invoice, as well as track when any comments or changes were made and by whom. This means if there is a dispute, no one has to go out of their way and call the supplier to try to clear up the problem—instead, you can just open the invoice on the AP automation online portal and comment directly on it, and your supplier can comment back. This speeds up and eases communications with suppliers—leading to less stress and faster invoice processing. These communications are then permanently stored with the archived invoice, which simplifies compliance and audits.
3. Vendor Adoption
Many people think their vendors won’t be on board with using a portal. They also don’t want to imagine the hassle that comes with trying to get their suppliers to use it. Luckily, enterprise-level solutions tend to include a portal that is designed to be just as user-friendly and simple for suppliers as it is for the AP department. This kind of solution includes a vendor adoption team that begins the process of onboarding suppliers to the portal on day one. This means that suppliers are immediately set up in the AP automation online portal, without accounts payable staff ever having to put in effort to try to get suppliers to sign up. This immediate vendor adoption also guarantees that an accounts payable department is paperless on day one.
4. Free Supplier Access
Not only will suppliers use AP automation online portals—they actually prefer it, especially when it’s free. By having a free portal, suppliers’ lives are made easier. With a free portal, and the opportunity of paying them early through dynamic discounting, communications can be eased, and your company can establish a great reputation and relationship with their suppliers.
5. Comprehensive Search Function
While processing invoices is central, there are also times when an invoice needs to be reviewed, especially during audit season. There are many different ways to search for a particular invoice, along with many different situations in which you might need to access an invoice. Because of this, it’s important that the AP automation online portal that you choose provides comprehensive searchability. On top of that, it’s crucial that the portal provided by the solution permanently archives invoices. This way, an invoice will never be lost—no matter when it was processed. This kind of comprehensive search functionality is also imperative when it comes to audits.
The Right AP Automation Online Portal for You
While an AP automation online portal sounds intriguing, it’s important to know what all it actually offers. Knowing the most important features that should be included, and why they are important, will make you an expert when doing your research on what automation solution you should choose for your company. Each company and their AP department has its own individual needs, so it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of the features that are available.