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Accounts Payable
August 19, 2021

Better AP with spend management: A before-and-after transformation you can believe.

Written by
Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
 Better AP with spend management: A before-and-after transformation you can believe. Better AP with spend management: A before-and-after transformation you can believe.

How about a makeover story without photoshopping? This is a before-and-after story to inspire you to take control and make a lasting impact on your company with spend management.

In many companies, an AP makeover is sorely needed, since accounts payable processes are notoriously labor-intensive. Even in companies that use cutting-edge technology in other departments, AP teams often contend with error-prone manual processes and cobbled-together tech stacks to manage employee spending. Spend management platforms promise to transform AP by solving those problems, but what exactly do those claims look like? And how can they look much, much better?

1
Before
Employees forget to keep their receipts and submit them. Finance team members chase down those missing receipts, and then spend time matching receipts to transactions — not exactly fulfilling tasks. Time is wasted, reports are inaccurate, the month-end close is delayed, and nobody is happy.
The fix
With physical corporate cards, enforced receipt compliance settings prompt receipt submissions, and can even block purchases for non-compliance. Virtual receipts are submitted through a designated email address, and the system matches the receipt to the transaction record. OCR technology “reads” receipt details as it enters the system.
After
The finance team is happy they don’t have to act as the receipt police anymore, and they’re able to use that newfound time to play a more strategic role in increasing revenue. Employees are happy to have one less thing to keep track of.
2
Before
Invoices arrive without context. AP teams spend too much time matching purchase orders to bills. The time invested adds up: By some estimates, invoices cost up to $40 each to process.
The fix
OCR technology creates a bill when an invoice is uploaded into the system, then matches it automatically against the corresponding PO. All documentation is stored in the transaction file, including email correspondence, so invoice context is instantly visible.
After
AP workers spend more time on higher-value tasks, like assisting finance leaders on improving the accuracy of forecasting reports — definitely better value for their time.
3
Before
An audit generates hours of work (and more than a little stress). The Airbase Annual Benchmark Survey of Finance Professionals found that gathering documentation for an audit is one of the time-consuming manual tasks performed by finance departments, but it’s completely unnecessary with the right platform.
The fix
A consolidated spend management platform captures transactions as they happen, for every non-payroll dollar that leaves a company. Each step, from approval to payment, for every payment method, is easily retrieved. You can also filter transactions to find out which ones are missing receipts.
After
Audits are a breeze. And the extra time can be used to review contracts and bills to ensure terms are being met.
4
Before
Budget owners routinely discover their budget is exceeded — after credit card bills arrive, when it is too late to make any adjustments. Forecasting and cash allocation are difficult because nobody is exactly sure how much money is available.
The fix
Rule-based expense policies provide budget control and take the emotion out of enforcement. Approvals happen up front for virtual cards and purchase orders, reducing the risk of surprises later. Physical cards can carry spend amount limits and adjustable expiration dates. Real-time reporting capabilities provide up-to-date visibility into financials whenever needed.
After
Forecasting is more accurate with real-time numbers. Managers and other budget owners have a clear understanding of what they have to spend, which improves efficiency all around. Budget compliance becomes more collaborative, and the finance team doesn’t feel they have to police spending.
5
Before
Subscription management is a (virtual) mess. Duplicate subscriptions happen when employees subscribe to services without checking to see if anyone else subscribes. When an employee leaves the company, their subscriptions continue, unused. Unused subscriptions auto-renew, without any visibility at all. Your company misses out on bulk discounts, because nobody knows how many other people subscribe.
The fix
The platform sends an alert if a company already subscribes to a service, or if an employee leaves the company with an active corporate card. Cards can be locked at the end of a subscription period, so that a renewal can be evaluated. With the option to tie cards to specific employees, departments, vendors, or timeframes, accountability is built right in.
After
The resulting visibility leads to a reduction in wasted spend.
6
Before
Bill payments involve multiple systems, depending if payment is made by card, check, ACH, international payments, or vendor credits.
The fix
One platform that consolidates multiple payment types.
After
The ability to select from multiple payment types creates opportunities to monetize bill payments, by selecting cards with cash back when possible. AP members save time and earn money by staying on one platform.
7
Before
The month-end close is an all-hands-on-deck situation, with long hours and high stress. It also never seems to end — when errors are found, the books need to be restated, so it feels like as soon as one monthly close finishes, it’s time to start the next one.
The fix
Automating the accounting tasks that take the bulk of the time, and syncing spending to the GL in real time, means that transaction records are always current, and supporting documentation is always available.
After
When journal entries aren’t backlogged, and the month’s financial information is already processed, a soft close is possible at any time. Some companies can even move towards a continuous close.

Many makeover stories end with a sweeping statement on how the biggest transformation happens within, with a new change of attitude and outlook. That’s also true of spend management platforms. Airbase customers tell us that the end result of these changes is a complete shift in spend culture. Andrew Vernick of HappyCo summed it up well: “Airbase has definitely freed up our time and our energy. It changed the way we see our role as a finance team and how the company sees the value that we can add.” 

Discover the role Airbase can play in your spend management transformation. Schedule a demo today!

Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
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About Airbase

Airbase offers a one platform solution to manage all non-payroll spend. It provides oversight and control over spending with real-time reporting and automatic syncing directly to your general ledger. Control all paymentsphysical cards, virtual cards, ACH, and checks – from one place. Close faster. Empower employees. Control spend.

To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
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