Posted by Tahir Laliwala | 0 comments

The Sunny Side of Cloud-based AP

Having your “head in the clouds” means different things to different people. If you’re managing the finance department within your organization, having your head in the cloud is the smart way to go. Once considered a luxury, cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) for workflow automation and invoice processing is now a necessity in a world of uncertain revenues and controlled costs. 

The fact that SAP recently acquired SaaS provider Ariba for $4.3B should tell you all you need to know about the importance of cloud accounting for the future. Gartner forecasts that spending on cloud computing will increase at a rate of 19% compared to the total spending on IT, which is predicted to rise just 3%. As far as the growth in spending for cloud-based SaaS, Gartner expects that to grow from an estimated $12.1B in 2013 to $21.3B in 2015.

So what are the conditions that are making smart CFO’s and Finance Managers who haven’t already done so, put cloud accounting software at the top of their wish list? 

A Paper-free Environment is not the only Endgame.  
Moving into automated financial processing definitely has a paper-elimination advantage, to be sure. The problems that may arise from paper pileups and lost or misplaced invoices and the efficiencies realized from accounts payable automation can’t be overstated; but the silver lining in the cloud is its value as a business information and cash management tool. One of the truly major transformation companies are experiencing is the changing role of accounts payable, from a transactional back office cost center to a strategic position within the organization. AP automation solutions enable this transformation by providing access to real-time data, and thus the insights necessary for procurement and treasury to effectively manage cash flow. Invoice Automation allows AP to:

  • Increase invoice processing speeds with streamlined workflows
  • Gain higher accuracy and faster access to data by removing touch points in the payables process
  • Eliminate late payments and take advantage of early-payment discounts with automated invoice approval workflows and payment disbursements
  • Enhance visibility at the click of a mouse for accurate reporting, better cash flow management, and improved supplier relationships
  • Improve supplier relationships through a seamless exchange of transaction-related information and payments.
Automation is a clear advantage, but why in the cloud?

New infrastructure, new software, and additional personnel are investments few companies are able, or willing, to undertake. Using a cloud-based SaaS provider means that companies only need a computer and internet access to run the application software, so there is no need to purchase hardware or software, make new hires, or pay the high cost of ongoing upgrades and training. Cloud automation has the advantages of:

  • Low upfront costs
  • Fast deployment and flexibility
  • Minimal IT commitment
  • Access to data, anytime…anywhere
  • Rapid adoption and easy ERP integration
  • Automatic backup
  • Continuous software updates and upgrades

When real storm clouds appear, cloud-based software is essential 
It’s no secret that storms are becoming more frequent and more treacherous, and that companies need to have a disaster recovery (DR) plan for all eventualities; but having multiple off-site servers, the personnel ready to implement emergency backups, and additional redundancies may not be feasible or optimal. Data stored in the cloud exists on the servers of service providers, who have their own system of servers at a variety of locations, constantly backing up data. Companies that have lost the ability to operate out of a brick-and-mortar facility can still access the necessary data through the cloud accounting system using their laptops, smart phones or tablets. 

It’s clear that the future of Accounts Payable is in the clouds, and the future looks pretty bright…and definitely sunny. Have you transitioned into the cloud for your AP functions? If not, why not?. If so, let us know your experiences.