Before acquiring an AP system, aren’t there some fact gathering, evaluation and planning steps to be taken? With that being said, let us suggest an approach.

Steps to consider when evaluating your nonprofit’s accounts payable system

The first order of business is to evaluate your nonprofit’s AP system objectives. This step may be easier after acknowledging the overall objective of accounts payable, which is to ensure payment of vendor invoices and expenses while maintaining accurate records and controls. Moreover, increasing efficiency and reducing costs are always at the forefront. However, what other objectives do you have for AP automation?

For example, allowing invoice payment information to be viewed by those outside of your accounting department. This could free up the time of your accounting staff.

Other objectives may include faster processing time and greater accuracy. Addition points include reducing staff allocated to data entry, cash flow viewing, and automation of the reminder system. Also, a clearer understanding of what is outstanding and why.

One suggestion is to make a list of the features your nonprofit is looking for and place them in order of importance. This is will help you quickly narrow the field of potential providers to the one or two that offer the best fit for your organization and staff.  The final determinates then resolve to cost and subjective factors.

Cost considerations for my nonprofit’s accounts payable automation

AP automation should save your nonprofit money over time when compared to the current cost of AP processing. Make an honest and thorough examination of the overall process and the time and costs associated with each step. Often, when evaluating a process, we look only at the cost of the staff time. Don’t forget to examine the other subtle, but expensive, associated costs. This includes:

  • Printing of checks
  • Reconciling the items cleared
  • Data entry
  • Postage
  • Signature delays
  • Matching backup
  • Copying
  • Filing mountains of paperwork
  • Storage costs for documentation
  • Printing costs for check stock
  • And, bank fees for processing.

One often overlooked, but an important, question is how will staff react to the new processing environment? How will they interact with the AP automation vendor? Will this be an uphill battle or downhill ride?

So, what are the questions you should ask prospective AP automation providers? There are always issues that arise or circumstances that are out of your control. However, the more questions asked and answered, the more likely those popup issues will be minor in nature.

Questions my nonprofit should ask accounts payable providers

Here are a few examples of questions your nonprofit should get answered. Some questions can be answered from the sales information or website. But, others may require an in-depth conversation with a technical individual within the AP automation company.

  • How does your automation system work?
  • What is required to continue maintaining the system once up and running?
  • What is the method of communication with my accounting system?
  • How much are the training costs for accounting staff and others using the system and how often would training be needed?
  • Would each new hire need training?
  • Can that training be provided in-house or would outside training be needed?
  • Where will the data be held and who is responsible for the security of the data?

It is often good to request contact information for other companies that have and have not chosen that system. Take the time to speak to those companies and ask why they chose the software or they chose not to use the software.

Accounts payable automation providers for nonprofits

We are excited to be sharing our in-depth dive into AP automation options with you. One AP automation option is Microix. Furthermore, here is a quick look at some of the other options we will dive into in the future:

  • Nexonia – Nexonia offers a variety of products however we will be concentrating on the Expenses and Accounts Payable modules.
  • ACOM Solutions – ACOM offers an “end-to-end” solution with the objective of processing all your business-to-business payments.
  • AvidXchange – AvidXchange offers potential clients a series of modules from purchase orders to payment services with vendor interaction.
  • Nexus Systems – The Nexus Payables system touts a system which provides “life cycle” processing.
  • Implement scanning and receiving invoices by email, ACH payments, credit card importing and other available processes with no additive software or outside provider.

In closing, we look forward to providing you with insight, questions, and answers.

Jody Zatorski
Nonprofit Accounting Consultant