Best Accounts Payable Software for 2021


Our top picks for accounts payable software:

Best for businesses with a lot of users: Lightyear

Best for integration with other accounting software: DocuWare

Accounts payable software can help you keep track of what bills are due and when, which is a key component of successfully managing accounts payable and your business in general. The best options go a step further and automate the often manual accounts payable process. To find the right fit for your business, look for timesaving features like invoice scanning and integration with your existing accounting software.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks for accounts payable software for small businesses.

Best accounts payable software 2021

Price: $79-$1,099+ per month.

  • Unlimited number of users.

  • Price can be a deterrent for smaller businesses.

  • Requires upgrade to handle purchase orders.

  • Least expensive package only processes 100 bills or statements per month.

Price: $39-$69+ per month.

  • Integrates with relatively few accounting systems.

  • Requires a plug-in to generate 1099s.

  • Must submit a request for support.

  • Integrates with many accounting software packages.

  • Stores invoice images for 7 years.

  • Price transparency is low: quotes only.

Tipalti Price: $149+ per month. Pros: 

  • Optical character recognition, or OCR, automatically reads invoices.

  • Can handle purchase orders.

  • Integrates with a wide variety of accounting software packages.

  • You design the approval process.

  • Low price transparency: quotes only.

Price: Free version; upgrades are quote only.

  • OCR technology scans invoices.

  • Can handle purchase orders.

  • Free version may work for very small startups.

  • Integrates with relatively few accounting packages

  • Email and ticket support only.

  • Price transparency is low: quotes only.

  • Dedicated inbox for vendors to send invoices.

  • Bot alerts you to duplicate invoices.

  • Stores invoices for 7 years.

  • Email-based customer support.

  • Price transparency is low: quotes only.

Lightyear

Price: $79-$1,099+ per month

Why we like it: Lightyear offers multiple pricing options, including plans starting at $79 a month. The software can read invoices, extract line-item data from them, send invoices off for approval from the appropriate people and automatically assign accounting codes to the data. The product integrates with QuickBooks, Xero Sage, Oracle NetSuite and more.

Bill.com

Price: $39-$69+ per month

Why we like it: Bill.com offers multiple pricing options, including plans starting at $39 a month, which may make it more accessible for many small-business owners. You’ll get a centralized inbox for receiving invoices. The software can read invoices, capture the data on them and even flag if something looks off. However, you’ll need to upgrade from the lowest-priced plan to integrate with QuickBooks, Xero or other accounting software.

AvidXchange

Why we like it: AvidXchange has invoice automation software, purchase order software and bill payment software that integrates with over 180 different accounting programs, making it more useful for small businesses that use something other than QuickBooks. There’s also a customer service phone number for live support. A quote-based pricing system and no free trial may make some business owners wary, though.

Tipalti

Why we like it: Tipalti’s OCR technology can alleviate some of the mind-numbing data entry work around manually keying in invoice data. The program can also match purchase orders with invoices. Live support is a valuable feature. The expense — especially since there’s no free trial — may put it out of range for some small businesses, though.

DocuWare

Why we like it: DocuWare can capture and store invoices from any device or from scanned paper, email and mobile captures in a searchable file structure. You can get a non-cloud version if you prefer. The software integrates with 500 different applications, including QuickBooks, Sage, SAP, Oracle, Outlook and more. Support includes a knowledge base, community forums and a tech support ticketing system.

Airbase

Price: Free version; upgrades are quote only

Why we like it: Like most of its competitors, Airbase uses OCR technology to scan invoices and extract the data you need to move the process along. The mobile app makes it easier for busy business owners to get things done on the go. If you use a lot of purchase orders or make a lot of payments to overseas vendors, Airbase’s features and foreign currency support might be especially attractive, though it integrates only with QuickBooks, Xero, Oracle Netsuite and Sage Intacct.

Stampli

Why we like it: Stampli uses a bot to do various things, such as manage approval identifications, alert you to duplicate invoices and even autopopulate fields with certain accounting codes. It integrates with around 40 different accounting packages, including QuickBooks.

What are the advantages of using accounts payable software?

To understand where accounts payable software might fit in your company, it’s important to understand the accounts payable process. It generally goes like this:

  1. Receive a bunch of invoices via email, snail mail or digitally.

  2. Get important data off each invoice and into your accounting system.

  3. Figure out if each invoice is correct and whether anyone in particular should look at it or approve it before you pay it.

  4. Generate and send a payment for each invoice.

  5. Record that each invoice is paid, and then file the invoice.

Accounts payable software can streamline that process, which is often very manual and time-consuming. It can integrate with the rest of your accounting system and help you manage your cash better by streamlining or automating the work.

Using accounts payable software also has some other big advantages:

  • Avoid unexpectedly running out of cash. Keeping track of what invoices are outstanding helps you understand how much cash you’re going to need and when, so you can keep your business running smoothly.

  • Get discounts. Many vendors offer discounts for paying early or charge fees for paying late. Good AP software will help you make the most of those deadlines so you don’t throw money away.

  • Avoid having to hire extra people. It can take a lot of time to manually key in data from invoices, generate payments and make journal entries, which can mean hiring more people if there’s no technology or systems to speed up the work.

  • Prevent errors. Accounts payable software can help detect whether you’ve already paid an invoice, whether an invoice amount isn’t what it should be or whether an invoice looks fishy.

How to choose accounts payable software

Ask yourself these questions to help determine what accounts payable software is right for you.

Make sure to think about the future, not just the present. Many accounts payable packages set prices based on how many users or bills you have; business growth could mean rising costs. Look for software that supports the business you plan to run in a year without requiring you to leap up to a much higher pricing tier.

Is it easy to use for you and your clients? 

Most software makers offer free trials to potential customers. Take advantage of these to make sure you understand how to use the features you need. Choose software that accommodates your vendors, especially if you have vendors overseas and need to support multiple currencies. If the vendors will interact with your accounts payable software (perhaps when they remit invoices, for example), take time to test the software from the vendor’s end, too.

Does it integrate with the software you already use? 

Your existing accounting software may have all the accounts payable firepower you want. But if it doesn’t, look for an option that integrates with your existing accounting software. Make sure to test those integrations before you commit to one program. The right software might allow you to consolidate some tasks. If you use a payments app, for instance, consider switching to software with native, or built-in, integrations that can meet those needs too.

It can be hard to project costs. Growth in your purchasing base or changes to your staffing levels might bounce you into a different price tier. Plus, some important features might actually be add-ons with additional fees.



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