SaaS Brief

How Cloud-based AP Automation Solutions are Making a Strategic Difference

Every day thousands of startups are created in the world. According to statistical experts, we can estimate about 1.7 billion per year, or about 4.8 thousand per day. Staggering! When companies are started the entrepreneurs have so many questions, things to understand, and rules and regulations to comply with. We find ourselves asking:

  • In a world highly connected, how is the cloud making a strategic difference?
  • How will the use of smartphones revolutionize the software industry?
  • And how will today’s tools for automating accounting and finance workflows help?

Technology has changed the way we work and do business in general. What was once local is now global. Teams used to hold meetings around a table in a conference room, and now join a conference call, login to a web-based meeting, or participate in a telecast. What were once corporate headquarters are now co-working office spaces, sometimes even coffee shops. Office hours used to be Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm and now are 24/7 (at least it feels like it at times!). A storefront has open and closed hours posted, but the consumer can shop online any time of the day or night.

Another new trend that has been on the rise in recent years is BYOD—Bring Your Own Device—to work. Companies have started allowing, and even encouraging, employees to use their own laptop, tablet, or phone, rather than company-issued ones. There are advantages to this, such as increased productivity and reduced costs, that seem to be outweighing issues and concerns, such as managing company security.

BYOD is made possible because of cloud technology. And so is the rising use of smartphones as computers. It is not uncommon for many professionals to not use a PC at all. Think about it. A person can do anything from checking and responding to e-mails, to viewing and editing a Word document, to watching and listening to a webinar or virtual meeting, to—in the case of AP automation tools—approving invoices all from a smartphone or tablet; especially now as mobile device screens are getting larger. The same can be said about almost any business activity in this day and age.

And it’s making it easier to pack our schedules even tighter. Running late to a meeting? Join from your smartphone so you don’t miss anything until you arrive in person. Wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea? E-mail or text it to your interested co-worker (and don’t worry about waking them up, they’re likely in a different time zone in some other part of the world). Stuck in traffic and need to remind yourself or someone else to submit payroll? Make yourself a voice memo. Of course, this is all fine and good if you’re building a business…not so much if you need some, you know, personal time.

So, when we consider our first two questions, it’s sort of like a chicken and egg scenario: The most useful business applications leverage cloud technology so that they can be accessed around the clock and from anywhere in the world on a mobile device. And the more widespread the use of smartphones, the more important it is for software engineers to build products that can be accessed in the cloud. Sure, there are still many uses for on-premise, enterprise level systems. But, for the thousands of start-ups and small businesses that are being created every day, many of which are using people in other parts of the country or world, they must be able to run round the clock. Cloud technology allows them to do that without having to worry about maintaining servers or IT support for technical issues.

How will today’s tools for automating accounting and finance workflows help new small businesses and tech start-ups?

  1. You work round the clock and so should your AP Automation Solution: Even though it’s really, really hard building a new business, it’s pretty easy to start one. There are so many tools available to walk you through launching a website, registering your name, submitting your trademarks, etc. Tools that weren’t available to world-changing companies like Microsoft and Facebook that started in a garage or dorm room. It’s also easy to collaborate with colleagues, investors, and customers all over the world. But you work around the clock and deal with many issues every day. Cloud-based invoice and payment processing (AP) automation solutions like Sage Intacct Marketplace partner, Yooz, are accessible 24/7 and paying your invoices will be one of the easiest parts of running your business.
  2. Only pay for what you need and add as you grow: One Yooz and Sage Intacct client, Tim Carter, CFO, Salsarita’s, said during his AP automation provider discovery process, “Many of the providers we considered offered a 500-pound solution for our 10-pound problem.” Small businesses should consider automation platforms that can be customized, so you only pay for what you need yet will scale with you as you grow and need more complex solutions. This is an advantage of cloud-based solutions rather than the on-premise solutions appropriate for large enterprise. And trust us, you’ll need the money you save for plenty of other things as you get your business going.
  3. You don’t have to be an accounting professional…or hire one: If you have ever started a business you know that you begin with a small core group of people and everyone does everything…literally! Some of today’s sophisticated, cloud-based (AP) automation solutions are so user-friendly with an easy implementation and onboarding process in as little as a few days, that your entire team can be trained on the system. It’s only a matter of determining who will approve the invoices and submit them for payment. Then on to marketing, raising money, software engineering…and making the coffee.
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