Return on investment (ROI) is a crucial element of any software purchasing decision, and when it comes to accounting software, we know that finance professionals will scrutinize every variable that goes into that calculation. And for the complexities of AP software, there are several factors that should be evaluated to make sure your ROI model lets you accurately compare alternative solutions.
In our experience, ROI calculations may overlook an important variable — the value of the integrations that a software solution may offer. This omission could lead to a misallocation of funds. After all, the AP function doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither should the software supporting it.
How integrations magnify the benefits of accounting automation.
AP automation eliminates hours of tedious work by streamlining invoice approvals, payment workflows, and reconciliations. But if these processes are siloed, the benefits stop there — just ask anyone who’s spent precious time moving data between systems.
When integrated with existing ERP systems, business systems like Ironclad, Asana, or banking platforms, AP automation can ensure real-time data synching and a cohesive flow of information. The synergy powered by these integrations optimizes efficiency and strengthens AP automation’s strategic impact on your financial operations.
Calculating the ROI of integrations.
When determining the ROI of AP automation platforms, you need to consider both the hard and soft benefits.
Hard benefits are easy to quantify and include factors such as money saved by reducing spend and revenue growth tied to the AP automation software, such as the ability to earn cash back through card payments. Hard benefits can be measured in terms of real dollar value attributed to the software.
The ROI of soft benefits can be harder to quantify but are no less important. Those benefits include time saved, flexibility, and user adoption.
Let’s take a look at how integrations can help with the ROI of your AP automation platform in terms of key elements.
Time saved: Seamless integrations with accounting systems like NetSuite or QuickBooks mean that data can sync to the GL without manual intervention or separate file creation.
These integrations can significantly shorten the time-to-close. Arianna Cesareo, Accounting Manager at Productboard describes the experience using Airbase:
“Now, with auto-sync, bills sync with QuickBooks right away instead of me having to do them manually. I hated that spreadsheet. I’m so happy I don’t have to maintain it anymore!
The time saved through integrations can add up quickly. Our research has found that AP teams spend about 17 hours on manual tasks like data transfers and documentation gathering.
Consider the time spent wrangling details for an independent contractor agreement between the employee hiring the services, the department approving it, and the legal team. When the legal team’s business system, like DocuSign, is integrated into your AP system, then the agreement red-lining process runs smoothly across all stakeholders with visibility and efficient input from all.
User adoption: If employees dislike using a system, it can lead to lower adoption rates, affecting overall ROI and potentially contributing to company turnover due to inefficient processes and systems.
Busy employees don’t want to juggle multiple systems to complete a simple task. An integration with Jira, for example, means an IT review of a purchase can be done right in Jira. Operating in systems that employees know and are comfortable with leads to increased efficiency and productivity. This gets multiplied across multiple teams and scores of employees.
Flexibility and scalability: Being able to adapt to shifting needs will boost ROI by scaling with your operations and avoiding an expensive upgrade later.
Integrations help a solution grow with you. If an Airbase customer finds that QuickBooks no longer meets their needs, an integration to a more robust accounting system like NetSuite means they can stay with Airbase as they grow.
A flexible system accommodates a variety of workflows and adapts to the unique processes of different organizations. This adaptability ensures that the automation system can be tailored to specific business needs, maximizing efficiency and reducing manual interventions.
A good example is the flexibility of Airbase’s payment-agnostic platform. One G2 reviewer describes the impact on bill payments:
“I also appreciate the platform’s integration with multiple payment methods, including credit cards, bank transfers, and even PayPal. This added a lot of convenience to my day-to-day operations as I no longer have to switch between different platforms to manage my finances.”
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Next level: How integrations future-proof AP automation.
According to integrations platform provider Alloy, integrations are a key element in future-proofing financial operations by better facilitating AI functionality — improving ROI over the long run.
AI is playing an increasingly important role in accounts payable solutions. At Airbase, we’re continually adding new features that leverage the latest in AI and machine learning.
In a blog on future-proofing finance operations, Alloy states that 80% of finance professionals say quality data is a barrier to successful AI features. Here’s a succinct summary:
“The effectiveness of these features depends on your ability to successfully access and work with large volumes of data that come from various sources, and are stored in different formats.”
Extending the possibilities for integrations.
The more native integrations the software you are implementing comes with, the greater the value of that software.
However, not all integrations that your company relies on will be covered, no matter how well-integrated a solution is. In this case, using an iPaaS is a cost-effective and easily implemented alternative. An iPaaS is a cloud-based platform that connects applications and systems, whether in the cloud or on-premise, bypassing the need for middleware in linking an organization with third-party software.
Find out how Airbase’s integrations boost the ROI of your accounting automation software. Book a demo with us!
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