Bill Paying Habits of Accounting Professionals are far more Advanced at Home than at Work, Finds MineralTree Survey
Many Organizations Demonstrate Security and Cash Flow Challenges While Underestimating Competitors’ Adoption of Technology
Cambridge, Mass., December 8, 2015
A new study, Exploring the Invoice-to-Pay Process, uncovers attitudes and preferences among accounting and accounts payable (AP) professionals in the United States. The research showed that professionals involved in the AP process are far more likely to use electronic bill paying technology at home than at work. The lack of advanced technology at work is cause for concern, as unclear settlement windows have led to cash flow problems and lack of security protocols can put sensitive data at risk.
The survey of 161 professionals involved in the accounts payable process was conducted in November 2015 by MineralTree. While at work 81 percent of respondents said they use checks frequently or exclusively. Alternatively, these professionals rarely (48 percent) or never (7 percent) use paper checks in their personal lives, opting for faster, more automated payment methods.
However, a large portion of respondents who pay invoices electronically (via ACH or EFT) store the bank account numbers of their billers in places that likely lack proper security. Seventeen percent said they store this sensitive information in a word processing document or a spreadsheet and 11 percent weren’t sure where it was stored.
The research also found that current payment methods are causing nearly a quarter (24 percent) of organizations to experiences cash flow problems because of unclear settlement windows.
“It’s shocking to learn that so many organizations have experienced cash flow problems and have opened themselves up to security risks by not having the proper systems in place,” said Bill Price, MineralTree’s CFO. “Accounting professionals seem to prefer automated payment methods for personal use, but don’t have access to similar options in the workplace, either due to lack of or awareness or accessibility. This is a huge concern as businesses make far more payments to far more payees, increasing risk exponentially.”
Key findings and themes:
The Cost of Processing and Paying
Most accounting professionals do not know how much it costs to process and pay an invoice, which typically averages in the $10 to $15 range according to data from the Federal Reserve.
- 75 percent of respondents stated that they did not know the cost of processing and paying invoices.
- Only 20 percent of all respondents gave an answer within the $10-$15 range when asked to state the cost of processing and paying an invoice, or provide their best guess.
While paper-check based payments are by far the most popular method used within organizations, some electronic payment methods see moderate use. However, opportunities remain to educate professionals on electronic payment methods and advance their usage.
- Credit cards are the second most popular form of payment. 49 percent of respondents use credit cards frequently and 31 percent use them occasionally.
- ACH and EFT are the next most popular forms of payment, respectively. 42 percent of respondents said they use ACH frequently and 33 percent said they use EFT frequently.
- 85 percent said they never use virtual cards and 6 percent said they aren’t sure if they have used virtual cards, revealing a large opportunity to educate accounting professionals on when and why they might be useful.
The Pace of Technology Adoption
In general, respondents believe that their use of paperless accounts payable and payment automation technology is more advanced than their competitors. They also believe that it will take their competitors longer to implement this type of technology.
- 20 percent of respondents said that their organization had already transitioned to paperless AP and payment automation, while only 15 percent thought their competitors had.
- Among respondents who had not yet deployed automation technology, 16 percent said it would take their organization three years or more to do so and 45 percent said it would take their competitors that long.
Integrating with Accounting / ERP Systems & Banks
A significant majority of respondents realize the value in having their bill pay solution integrate with their accounting / ERP system and their bank.
- 93 percent of respondents believe it is extremely important (72 percent) or important (21 percent) for a bill pay solution to synchronize with their accounting / ERP system.
- 89 percent of respondents believe it is extremely important (58 percent) or important (31 percent) for a bill pay solution to synchronize with their bank.
Variations Among Accounting / ERP Systems
Respondents were asked to identify the different accounting technology in use at their organization, revealing differences in their adoption of automated AP and their views on the importance of integrating with other systems.
- Users of Microsoft Dynamics GP are much slower to adopt paperless AP than others. Only 11 percent of Microsoft Dynamics users said they had already adopted paperless AP, compared to 19 percent of NetSuite users, 25 percent of QuickBooks users, and 30 percent of Intacct users.
- Fewer QuickBooks users saw the importance of having a bill pay solution integrate with their accounting / ERP system. Only 62 percent of QuickBooks users said it was extremely important, compared to 70 percent of Intacct users, 75 percent of Microsoft Dynamics users, and 85 percent of NetSuite users.
- More Microsoft Dynamics users saw the importance of having a bill pay solution integrate with their bank. 68 percent of Microsoft Dynamics users said it was extremely important, compared to 50 percent of Intacct users, 56 percent of NetSuite users, and 57 percent QuickBooks users.
Additional insight and analysis on the entire survey can be found in the full report, Exploring the Invoice-to-Pay Process, which can be downloaded here.
MineralTree provides the easiest to use Accounts Payable (AP) and Payment Automation solutions for finance professionals at growing organizations. MineralTree streamlines AP, giving customers unparalleled visibility and significant cost savings in an affordable, integrated platform that is guaranteed secure. For more information visit www.mineraltree.com.