Improving purchasing & accounts payable for everyone

For most people outside finance, purchasing (especially if there is a formal order process in place) and invoice approvals are, at best, a necessary evil. The more bureaucratic the process, the more it is disliked.

As for finance, they are trapped between a rock and a hard place; running their monthly marathon of capturing and processing all orders and invoices to deliver timely month-end reporting, statutory returns and supplier payments (all whilst constantly fielding calls from both staff and suppliers on the status of everything). 

There is also the challenge of maintaining financial control over what is being bought and correctly accounting for it. This also needs to be balanced against the level of bureaucracy required to achieve it, ultimately to satisfy the auditors and protect against fraud. The more robust the processes, however, the more time-consuming the bureaucracy.

But at the end of the day, almost every accounts payable department functions successfully within their defined parameters of what “success” is.

So how do you improve the purchasing and accounts payable process?

Let’s start by redefining what purchasing and accounts payable “success” could, and arguably should, look like:

1. Make life much easier for everyone outside finance

  1. Ensure purchases are so simple and convenient that everyone involved welcomes the change
  2. Make it incredibly easy for everyone to get “best value” on their purchases
  3. Allow them to track the progress of an order from creation to approval
  4. Enable a straightforward invoice review and approval process
  5. Undertake all of the above from any device
  6. And – as a result – save a huge amount of time so that everyone can focus on what matters to them

2. Make life much easier for finance

  1. Ensure every purchase has the appropriate level of approval before it is sent to the supplier
  2. Have everyone using the preferred suppliers every time
  3. Automate common GL coding wherever possible, and make it very simple and fast when human intervention is required
  4. Never touch an invoice, (they just arrive automatically)
  5. Take comfort in the fact that every invoice is automatically checked against the order value to highlight exceptions
  6. Identify every duplicate invoice and stop duplicate payments
  7. Route every invoice through the correct approval process every time
  8. Answer every query from suppliers in moments, because you can see the status of every order and every invoice, including queries, wherever you may be
  9. Stop most of the staff queries, because they can see the same information on their suppliers and answer the question themselves
  10. Remove the time to post the invoice to your accounting software and the time to file it
  11. Take comfort in a comprehensive and complete audit trail of every step for every invoice

So how can you achieve this and improve the purchasing and accounts payable process? 

The answer may surprise you –  as almost all of us are already doing it – because it is so convenient.

Just buy everything online.

You enable your staff to buy everything they need from Amazon Business (and other online supplier websites) by implementing purchase order automation and accounts payable automation.

To head off the usual immediate responses of  “too hard, too much time, too expensive, other more important priorities, no need to change” and so forth, here are some facts:

  • with the right purchase order automation and AP solution, most businesses can be live in just a day or two, 
  • it costs less per month than it costs for around four hours work from a junior member of staff,
  • once up and running, it is simple and easy to use for everyone involved 
  • the productivity gains will enable staff to do what they do much faster, enabling them to focus on important priorities sooner 

In terms of Amazon Business pricing, it is an extremely competitive marketplace with thousands of vendors fighting for your business, all of whom are measured on the quality of their products, services and value for money. Most businesses will save at least 10% overall on their spend, even if a few things may be a little more than elsewhere. This usually means there is more money in your bank account after automation because the savings more than cover the costs.

All that is left is your other suppliers and that can be fully automated, too.

Purchasing and accounts payable automation – including online buying

In today’s uncertain world, every business needs to take control over spend before it happens, reduce costs by paying less on what they must buy and increase productivity to achieve more with less. Cashflow is King.

Can you think of a faster, better, lower cost and more effective way to achieve these key objectives and improve your purchasing and accounts payable process?


Neil Robertson

Neil has a 39-year track record of building successful direct and channel global software businesses predominately in the financial software market place. Neil Robertson is Executive Chairman of Compleat Software. A 39-year veteran of the financial software marketplace, Neil has a long track record of building disruptive start-ups into successful businesses, including his time as CEO EMEA of Great Plains where he built the business outside of the USA from 1995 – 2001. Compleat is no exception and perhaps the most disruptive of them all.

To find out more about 1st Choice Workflow for MIP Fund Accounting, email

How to Know When Your Nonprofit is Ready for the Cloud

Abila’s How to Know When Your Nonprofit is Ready for the Cloud by Michelle Garcia, August 17th, 2018

How do YOU know when your nonprofit is ready for the cloud?

If you’ve been in a professional setting at any point within the last 20 years, you’ve heard about “the cloud.” You don’t even need to be a member of the IT department to have heard about it. Everywhere we turn these days, whether to an app, a technology partner, or our cell phone provider, we’re being encouraged to save our files to “the cloud.” Why? Why is migration to cloud computing a growing movement amongst individuals and especially organizations, such as nonprofits? And, how do you know when your nonprofit organization is ready to move to the cloud?

The good news, according to the 2018 State of the Nonprofit Cloud report, is that cloud computing has become less intimidating, more beneficial, and nonprofits are migrating to the cloud at a steady clip:


And, although challenges to cloud service implementation still exist, there are many ways to overcome them to enable an efficient, flexible, and secure cloud migration experience.

First, identify and weigh the benefits of moving your nonprofit to the cloud:

  • Accessibility anywhere, anytime
  • Reliability on vendor expertise for IT support
  • Recovery from disasters
  • Security protection
  • Exceptionally performing software programs
  • Flexibility with scalability
  • Accountability and uptime

Next, recognize potential risks, as it is important for nonprofit professionals to discuss and anticipate for preventative actions.

  • Training and support are crucial for a successful implementation. Make sure this step is added to the migration roadmap, with names, titles, and responsibilities clearly outlined.
  • Long-term support is another key factor and will guarantee there is a team available in times of need.
  • Contingency plans if the migration is not running as smoothly as expected. Nonprofits should be clear with their cloud vendor if there is a desire to move back to on-premises management. Your nonprofit should have a choice when it comes to moving to the cloud. Nonprofits should not be forced to migrate if their organization is not ready for the implementation.

Once benefits are agreed upon and risks are recorded, the next step is to establish a strategy that will provide the nonprofit’s executives and board members the confidence in the migration plan. Here’s how to accomplish that:

  • Cost – Establish a cost analysis between on-premises software and cloud-hosted software. This can be completed through a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comparison guide.
  • Strategic Planning – Your nonprofit plan should include how the migration will support the bottom line and mission of the organization. Highlight the benefits for cross-discipline groups – IT, finance, marketing, research, development, and support. By sharing this information, and gaining input from leaders of each department, you will help establish buy-in before an implementation starts.
  • Research Documentation – There are several good resources a nonprofit can leverage as support for a migration, such as case studies from like-organizations. The ability to demonstrate successes with your selected vendor and/or their customers will elevate confidence across executives and staffed teams.
  • Compare Services Available – A well-rounded business case typically includes criteria-driven vendor selections, such as:
    • Reputation – Conduct online searches via trusted technology publications, channel partners, and news outlets for the vendor brand and reviews. Instinctually, you’ll be able to eliminate and/or add to your list of choice vendors.
    • Technical Documentation – Request access to vendors’ technical instructions and system performance analysis for organizations that match your nonprofit. Ask them about their mitigation plans for nonprofits.
    • Vendor Team Structure – Gain a clear understanding of who would be working on your implementation and the hours for which they will be available. Particularly for any potential outages, ask them to share their processes and average recovery times.
    • Security – What steps and guarantees will the chosen vendors provide to ensure your data is secure? This is one of the biggest concerns nonprofits have when it comes to moving to the cloud. Since cloud migration has been happening for years now, this should not be difficult for vendors to address.

By comparing vendors and services, apples to apples, you will be able to quickly assess those you want to request an RFP from, versus those you may want to eliminate.

Migrations to the cloud don’t have to be overwhelming or scary. However, any software vendor you’re using should offer you the choice when it comes to your preference for either on-premises or in their cloud. By following the recommendations shared in this blog, you can equip your nonprofit with the necessary information to effectively migrate with confidence!

For more information on using a Business Partner with Abila Software, please check out 1st Choice Advisors!