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Exploring AP Technologies, Part 1: Supplier Portals

Posted November 11, 2015


Accounts Payables professionals today have access to innovative resources to help them operate more efficiently. Web-based solutions have become an important part of AP’s movement from manual to automated processes, taking them a step beyond scan, capture, and workflow capabilities and into a realm where they work with their suppliers to achieve cost and process savings.

We’re taking a closer look at the new innovations in AP technology that are gaining interest among AP departments who want to take their operations to the next level. The first will explore Supplier Portals.

A New Way To Interact With Vendors

A supplier portal is an e-invoicing solution provided by the buying organization (i.e. the AP department) to enable their vendors to conveniently manage their information online, around-the-clock. Suppliers can log in to the system to submit invoices, check the status of invoices and payments, and access other data they need to manage their receivables.

According to a study by Ardent Partners, ePayables 2015: Higher Ground, 31% of enterprises currently use a supplier portal and 51% plan to implement one over the next 12-24 months. What’s more, 55% of Best in Class AP operations have adopted supplier portals versus 27% of all others. What’s making the difference? A combination of self-service and automation that lead to:

  • Boosted productivity – Portal technology makes daily interactions simpler and faster for AP departments and vendors by providing answers to commonly asked questions: “Did you receive my invoice? Did you pay my invoice?” By eliminating much of the time-consuming back-and-forth, workers have more time to focus on value-added activities.
  • Lower costs – In addition to workers’ higher productivity through optimal use of their time, which carries cost-savings of its own, digital transactions don’t require paper. Even for issues that need to be taken offline, there tends to be a shorter paper chase and less use of office supplies and equipment. It all adds up to lower transaction costs.
  • Enhanced business relationships – Portals provide another service touch-point that’s likely to save suppliers both time and money, helping them make the most of their AR resources. Plus, the increased data visibility for the vendor can result in higher satisfaction—and improved supplier relations.


Unlike some other technology implementations that only impact the internal users’ processes, an e-invoicing solution’s success is contingent on supplier adoption. Vendors need to be ready and willing to embrace electronic processing. And internal resources need to be assessed at the start of the project. Solutions that are developed in-house require intensive IT support; those added as a module of an organization’s ERP system also require IT development and collaboration with the technology vendor. Organizations that are culturally and technologically prepared to leverage cloud-based services are likely to turn to SaaS vendors for a more turn-key solution.

Stay tuned to learn about other technologies that are changing the way AP departments work.