The accounts payable process has hit app overload. It’s time to destack.

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No one starts a business to spend five hours a week processing payments. Especially not the people who deal with them daily: accountants, bookkeepers and outsourced finance departments. The obvious answer? Automate. Soon you’ve got an AP stack — a pile of apps, each one ‘optimising’ a different part of the accounts payable workflow. In theory.

In practice? It just doesn’t work. Here’s why.

Adding apps isn’t a solution

The payment workflow is already complicated. It’s complicated for business owners, and it’s even more complicated for bookkeepers and accountants working across lots of clients. As the AP app stack gets taller, that complexity grows.

And the shocking news is: making something more complicated doesn’t make it simpler.

More wallets. More problems

Another common culprit when it comes to overloading payment workflows: wallets.

Wallets seem like a great idea at first. They save you having to get into, and jump between, client bank accounts. But a wallet is just one more moving part added onto your workflow, and it comes with its own set of issues. Now you’ve got a wallet, you have to:

  • Onboard clients (do Know Your Clients (KYC) checks, and collect documents like IDs)
  • Set up a feed between the wallet and your accounting software
  • Keep the wallet topped up (which means coaching clients on how to do it, chasing them when they don’t, and dealing with the fall-out of empty wallets and missed payments)
  • Reconcile yet another account
  • And repeat…

All of which means extra time, hassle, and one more security risk.

Invoice approval software adds issues

Once you’ve added a wallet, you usually need to add another piece of software. This one promises to automate approvals. Just think: no more missed payments and chasing clients…

Except, these apps just don’t work. They’re too complicated for a lot of clients, and often add steps.

To most of these approvals apps, ‘approving’ an invoice means checking it’s correct. But just because you’ve said an invoice is legitimate doesn’t mean you want to pay it straight away. Maybe:

  • You need to manage cashflow
  • You’ve already paid it and don’t want to do it twice
  • You or your client have agreed some kind of custom payment plan with the payee, like instalments

Because you still need to do the second type of ‘approving’ — giving payment go-ahead — these types of apps rarely save steps.

All of which means clients usually give up trying to use them. Before you know it, you’re dealing with the same old emails and spreadsheets, and paying for software no one uses.

The answer? Destack and integrate

Most of the AP tools on the market focus on automating payment execution. But cleaning up the mess that is business payments means looking at the whole workflow — not just the last step. And the solution can’t be one more app piled on top of a creaking stack — it needs to integrate with the tools you’re already using.

Which is exactly the thinking behind Apron — payment software that weaves into your workflow, without adding unnecessary extras. We built Apron to be a simple, functional layer that wraps around your existing accounting app, client banks and emails, and pulls them together. It tightens up every step of your workflow, and means payments happen in one place — start to finish. So you spend less time fiddling with apps, and more time thinking about the bigger pictures.

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“Of course, payments are a critical process within any business, and getting payments right means minimising time spent on clerical processes so you can spend more time on ‘value add’ activity, but getting payments right can create a powerful virtuous circle.

Knowing where you stand with your payable bills makes forecasting and cash flow planning possible, which means you can operate your finances on the front-foot and use financial data to drive business decisions.

We’ve found Apron to be a real ‘win / win’ saving clients time, reducing payment risk, improving cash flow visibility and improving the bookkeeping process.”

This content is brought to you by Apron.

Apron lets you sort, approve, and get client invoices paid in seconds.

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