Finding the Best of Breed in AP Automation


I keep Dobermans. I came to love the breed for their intelligence, pace, loyalty and quirkiness. In 1890, Karl Doberman, a tax collector in Germany, developed the breed. He needed an imposing yet reliable companion for his day job.

But if you’re looking for a cute lap dog or one that requires less than ten miles of exercise per day, there are better breeds. Plus, do you really want a 90 pound Doberman on your lap?

Best of Breed AP Software Vendors: Do They Exist?

Like dogs, there are many choices when it comes to software vendors/software as a service (SaaS) providers, but as Gartner points out, even in the case of ERP providers it is rare that every module provided is best of breed. I’ve met many architects who are trying to shrink the number of applications in their portfolio, one client is working on dropping from 700 to 300 apps, so I do understand there is a rationale for seeking out a single vendor where possible.

Recently, an existing customer asked if Esker would bid on their accounts payable (AP) project. They trust us and wanted to extend their shared services initiative to include cash application (i.e capturing and matching data from the paper and electronic checks and remittances they receive). Bank fees and internal labor costs can be astronomical for this process.

On the face of it, Esker provides imaging and workflow. Couldn’t we also scan checks/remittance documents and speed up the order-to-cash (O2C) cycle by completing the posting to the right accounts in the ERP? Couldn’t we be the single vendor they had in mind?

AP Automation & Cash Application: The Mixed Breed Approach

Sure, we could have gone ahead and done that, but we prefer to focus on what makes us unique (i.e cloud based AP automation and electronic purchasing). So, I chose to introduce Billtrust to our customer as they understand the cash application process is far more than OCR/workflow. Unlike others who make marketing noise, they have hundreds of customers using their platform. I believe the AP automation space is crowded, and some vendors are struggling to differentiate themselves, hence they are trying to forray into Billtrust’s domain.

Our customer was surprised, but respected the loyalty we showed them. We explained why we had to make a tough yet honest call, and it was better they look at Billtrust. The risk was the customer would move away and opt for a vendor claiming to have a single offering for AP automation and cash application. However, after a thorough sniff of the market, the customer chose to go ‘best of breed’ using Esker for AP automation (along with order processing) and Billtrust for cash application technology .

Arguably what is most important is which application will bring the most value and efficiency to the finance shared services center. Which vendor is really geared around your process and industry? Which vendor can you trust to say no?

If you define your requirements and weigh up ‘best of breed’ versus single source vendor, deployment and user experience is far more likely to be like walking a well-trained dog versus a crazy hound.

Speaking of which, it’s time for Major’s walk…

Daniel Reeve

Dan Reeve has been with Esker for 18 years. As Sales Director he helps companies streamline and improve visibility across order to cash and procure to pay. Transforming customer service and helping companies utilize digital transformation in order to compete via service/customer loyalty. For P2P it means accelerating invoice approval, paying suppliers faster, freeing up cash flow and leveraging supply chain finance opportunities.

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