Tracking AP Invoices and Payments Should be as Easy as Tracking a Pizza

June 22, 2020

5 min read

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You just ordered a pizza online from your favorite pizzeria. Within seconds, you receive confirmation of your purchase. From the moment you ordered it, through when it’s delivered, you can track its progress online.

Not only does this visibility provide you with peace of mind, but it also lets you be far more efficient with your time. You can do other things – not wait expectantly by the door until it’s delivered.

All of this is great. So, shouldn’t you require the same level of AP visibility about where your invoices and supplier payments are at every step along the way – from invoice receipt to payment? After all, your company’s cash and its relationship with suppliers is far more important than one casual dinner.

Three Common Blind Spots with AP Automation and Payments Solutions 

Many AP automation companies can provide a lot of data for AP teams to review – how many invoices were processed, how fast they were processed, etc. But not all of them provide the AP visibility that counts, specifically, “What are the statuses of invoices and payments?”

Here are three of the most common blind spots that occur with AP automation and payments.

1. The Black Hole for Suppliers After Submitting Their Invoices

Once suppliers drop an invoice in the mail – or send via email – they’re often left to just hope it reaches the right destination. That’s why your AP team hears from them (sometimes repeatedly) wanting updates on where things stand. They like knowing the status of their invoices and their money just as much as you do.

And this is no way to operate since, in real estate, key suppliers can make or break you.

Thus, it’s important that suppliers can self-serve and check the real-time status of their invoices and payments. If they can check that an invoice has been submitted, approved, paid, rejected, etc., there’s no “black hole”. With NexusConnect, suppliers can view their invoice status with just a few clicks.

AP Visibility for Suppliers to Track Their Invoices
Suppliers can view invoice status in NexusConnect without ever picking up the phone.

Suppliers also need to know AP payment status throughout the entire payment lifecycle. And this knowledge helps you too. For example, if suppliers can log in to a portal, like NexusConnect, to check whether a virtual card payment has been issued but remains unprocessed or see that it is partially unprocessed (and grab the card info they need in seconds), or that a check has been sent, they’ll be able to take action immediately. They won’t wait at their inbox, or their mailbox (similar to how you don’t want to wait by the door for your pizza).

All of this visibility not only means that suppliers will be processing their payments on time, but it also ensures that they’ll want to work for you again, even if it means getting up in the middle of the night to fix an elevator.

AP Visibility for Payments
Suppliers can see their payments – received and in process – at a glance.

2. Property Managers and Other Invoice Submitters Are in the Dark About Payment Status

It goes without saying: the AP team absolutely needs to know where invoices are from receipt, through coding, approvals, and payments.

But what about your property managers, or others, who received and submitted the invoice initially? Do they have access to view the invoice and see its payment status? Or are they calling around to AP team members who might be working remotely?

Giving property managers and others who need to know the status of invoices an ability to easily view this information is something to keep in mind when selecting an AP automation solution.

AP Visibility for Payments
In NexusPayables, all stakeholders have the ability to track the status of supplier payments.

3. Check Payments Are One Big Guessing Game 

Let’s say when your AP automation company pays your suppliers on your behalf, it issues checks to some of those suppliers. How are those checks issued? Are they cut using your own bank accounts – with the same check numbers in your general ledger? Or are they cut from a centralized/pooled bank fund? If it’s the latter, you may face some obstacles:

  1. Reconciliation may be more difficult as you won’t be able to trace your funds easily. Your suppliers may receive check number 4567 from the payments automation company while your GL says you issued check number 1234. Moreover, the money may be held up for a few days, while it’s in the centralized pool.
  2. Adding or changing the bank accounts (used for paying suppliers) may be difficult and require relying on others, like the AP automation software’s support team. That can be problematic when banking relationships change.
  3. You may have challenges performing a stop payment once approvals have been issued.

These are important questions to ask before you sign up for an AP automation and payments company. You and your team don’t want to be stuck with blinders on, especially when closing the books at the end of the quarter.

Don’t Settle for a Lack of AP Visibility

Many AP automation providers – particularly those who offer supplier payment capabilities – will promise large rebates on your spend and/or quick implementation timelines. But, if the solution provides you with limited insight as you process invoices and pay them, you can experience the problems outlined above, plus:

  • Added stress amongst your AP team and suppliers
  • More re-work
  • Higher volume of phone tag
  • Deteriorating relationships with vendors

So, it’s important to put a priority on AP visibility throughout the ingestion-through-payment process. Your cash flow – and your teams – depend on it. To view the questions you should ask about AP payments, read “4 Things You Should Know About Automated Payments Solutions.”