Unless you operate an all-cash business, such as a corner hot dog stand, you have accounts receivable and accounts payable. Managing the former properly ensures you’ll continue to receive the cash your business needs to survive and grow. Managing the latter well ensures vendors will continue to supply the products and services your business needs.
Shopping for AR/AP is fairly straightforward, once you know your requirements. Just about any AP application will be able to satisfy the needs of most businesses. Issues involving AR are a little more complex and chiefly concern your needs in the credit and collections area.
When you’re looking at different vendors, integration should be one of your key concerns. For anything other than the smallest businesses, integration of AR and AP into other financial areas, such as general ledger and financial statements and inventory, will be important.
If the solution you select is a module of a larger, integrated financial accounting or enterprise resource planning program, integration has already been handled for you. Otherwise you’ll need to look under the hood and see which file formats in common can be transferred between your AR/AP application and the ones required for integration.
Ask about maintenance and support charges for the application. Typically, they will run about 10 percent to 20 percent of the purchase price annually.
If you process accounts payable, you’ll need to purchase check and remittance advice forms. The least expensive check purchase option will most likely not be from the printer touted on one of those annoying little slips tucked into your software box. Software vendors often receive referral fees from recommended printers, who mark up their prices accordingly. Most commercial check printers will be able to manufacture compatible check forms, once you advise them of the packaged software you are using. Alternatively, if your AP application has a forms designer, you could adjust the format to fit the check forms you prefer.