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AP solution payments partner

Checklist for seeking an AP digital payments solution and how to choose a partner

November 30, 2023

The automated accounts payable (AP) market is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2023 to over $3.5 billion by 2030.  Many factors are pushing the changes. 

Cost reduction

From cutting the volume of paperwork and banking costs to earning revenue from virtual card payments, payments technology has vastly altered the accounts payable landscape. Because all of the manual elements are removed, including any mailing costs and the costs associated with ACH (automated clearing house), there are significant savings to be made in the AP department.  Further, it means a closer and more fruitful relationship with your suppliers — large and small — through the integration of back office systems and supplier enablement.

Fraud reduction

We know that the fraud taking place in manual payments is increasing rapidly. In the last few years, criminals have been getting more sophisticated and organized. In 2020, the fraud from check washing alone cost banks and their customers $1.3 billion. Because an end-to-end automated AP system from WEX uses virtual card numbers for every payment, the possibility of breaking that system is virtually nil.

To learn more about preventing fraud in accounts payable, click on the handout below to download it!

Prevent fraud in accounts payable

Tax management

A WEX automated AP system is fully integrated with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool so that you have all the information you need to account for your business expenses via your AP system.

While the benefits are clear, finding a partner in this arena is complicated because not every business is the same, not only in their markets and offers but also in their cultures and processes. Therefore, when seeking an AP partner, you need to look for someone who can work with you and your systems in your markets, with your suppliers and with your products and processes — and has a track record with all of these.

1. Partnering with a company that understands my business

What are my payments technology needs and goals (medium and long-term)?

Looking at your current AP systems, you will need to consider your specific requirements, from invoice processing and volume to approval systems and reporting requirements. What kind of suppliers do you have, and how flexible can they be?

What are my AP long-term goals?

Cost reduction is vital, but so is the relationship with suppliers because they are an integral part of any business. Any system needs to be scalable and integrate with my current accounting and ERP systems payments.

How do I calculate my ROI from upfront to ongoing savings with a payments technology product?

There are many factors to consider here and, as part of the WEX way, we can help you identify those, but the major factors will be:

  • Total volume of invoices and average cost per invoice
  • Time factors and possible lost discounts
  • Error rate and average cost of errors
  • Also, potential rebates offered by using the WEX system

We have decades of experience looking at how to make an automated AP system pay for itself and have worked across all types of businesses, from large to small. WEX has a fully integrated supplier onboarding process tailored to work with your systems and those of your suppliers — with a fully bespoke internal campaign backed by a dedicated team to make it happen.

2. A company that can integrate with my existing systems and procedures – and with my people

When looking to automate AP, you need to partner with a company with an impressive track record integrating with ERP and other accounting systems and plugging into your suppliers’ systems. WEX was a pioneer in bringing together fleet systems as well as partnering with all the major travel aggregators. Automated AP is no exception; WEX has worked with companies in most sectors and has developed a specific product for SMEs (small to medium enterprises) called Flume.

Things to consider include:

  • A simple user interface for AP staff and approvers
  • Training and support — now and in the future
  • An integrated supplier onboarding campaign for each of your suppliers and support and advice as to which suppliers to prioritize
  • A partner who is versed in my ERP and other systems I need in my business
  • Ensuring a payments technology system that is compatible with mobile and off-site teams
  • A partner who understands my key stakeholders, including AP staff, finance, and IT
  • A system that is seamless and scalable — both nationally and globally

You need a partner who has consistently been leading the market but has a keen eye on what is happening now — working sensitively with your stakeholders.  At the same time, you need the business and technology acumen that comes with a company with decades of experience integrating systems and people for complete supplier enablement and payments technology.

3.  A company that can work seamlessly and sensitively with suppliers

Running your business includes investing time and energy in supplier relationships. Supplier enablement, by definition, needs to cater to the needs of your vendors. WEX aims to help your suppliers not only to recognize the benefits of a vendor payments system for them but also to help them integrate it into their system.

So, you need to seek a virtual payments partner who:

  • Knows the suppliers most likely to be first adopters — e.g. newer suppliers with a digital-only system or perhaps a more significant supplier
  • Has a proven method for onboarding suppliers in payments technology
  • Will continue to work with new suppliers to automate vendor payments fully, no matter how long it takes

WEX has developed a complete campaign plan, including collateral communications material —for your internal audiences and suppliers. We start planning with your internal stakeholders — identifying and prioritizing suppliers that are significant targets for automated payments, a virtual card system, and those most critical for your business.  Once we have agreed to the first target, we create all the initial communications to your people and the target supplier and execute the entire campaign to the supplier. And we do this for each and every supplier for as long as it takes.

4. A company that knows this business and where it’s going… and has a strong reputation and track record

It seems the most obvious that you want an established organization to take on this vital and sensitive task, but determining what sort of track record and in what industries might take more work to resolve. A company like WEX has not only been a pioneer in aggregating seamless payments and supplier enablement, but we have also been a thought leader (and doer) in the field. We know what is happening now and what is around the corner.

Things to look for in a partner:

  • Understand AP automation, supplier enablement, virtual cards, and payments technology
  • Knows what’s coming next in payment automation
  • Understands future developments in AI and machine learning
  • Knows the regulatory environment — even working across borders
  • Can grow with my business

This is a fast-changing environment, and organizations large and small need to be confident that the choices they make now will see them into a successful future.

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