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The Anybill Vendor Portal: Now a Full-Service Platform for Vendors

The Anybill Vendor Portal launched in 2015 as a simple way for vendors to check on the bills they sent to our clients. Since then, we've worked to build it into a platform that can fully connect you with your vendors. Now, it provides a full-service experience, with a comprehensive set of features, and Anybill will even help you bring your vendors onboard! 

Here's what you get with the modern vendor portal:

Online Invoice Submission

Your vendors can submit invoices to the vendor portal via file upload. Uploaded invoices are immediately routed to your approvers, eliminating the need for invoices sent via email or snail mail. 

Status Checks and Reporting

Vendors can check on submitted bills, look at payment status, and access historical bill and payment data. With this information at vendors' fingertips, you can expect a reduction in inbound calls and emails from vendors curious about the status of their payment.  

Vendor Data

Vendors can now submit crucial payment and tax information directly through their vendor portal profile. This data includes banking information for receiving ACH direct deposits, taxpayer ID# and even attachments like W9s. Any information added in the vendor portal will automatically update in your Anybill profile as well.

Custom Settings

All features of the vendor portal can be enabled and disabled based on your preferences. That means you define the actions your vendors can take and the information they can access.

Vendor Onboarding

You can onboard a vendor at any time by opening the vendor's profile in Anybill and clicking "Invite to Portal" - simply provide the vendor's email address and contact information to send the invitation.

But Anybill can assist with multiple vendor invitations and onboarding. At your request, Anybill will invite your existing vendors and invite future vendors as they come onboard. To sign up for this service, simply give our Support team a shout!

Anybill Adds Two Factor Authentication for Enhanced Security

With the goal of increasing security at the point of login, Anybill now provides two factor authentication (2FA) as an optional feature for all clients and users. This feature provides enhanced security at login, further preventing unauthorized persons from gaining entry to sensitive info and user accounts.

How Does it Work?

Previously, Anybill accounts were protected by a single layer, secure password. 2FA adds an additional layer of security by requiring a second verification after you enter your normal password. That verification comes in the form of a randomly-generated passcode that you access via an authenticator app on your mobile device. These passcodes automatically refresh every 30 seconds – so when you go to login, you’ll need to pull up a fresh passcode in the app and enter it before it expires.

Why is It Important?

Digital crime and data breaches are an ever-present threat in the Internet era. Any companies that store sensitive data could be the target of attempted hacks. Previous data breach victims could also be vulnerable to subsequent “aftershock” effects that target other accounts that use the same username or password. 2FA can better protect you against these threats. In fact, a recent Experian industry forecast recommends that companies push for 2FA as a way to verify their users and protect against data breaches resulting from reused passwords.

How Do I Enable 2FA for My Anybill Account?

Simple! While logged into your Anybill account, click into “My Profile” on the upper right on your screen.

Next, navigate to the “Enhanced Login” section and click edit. Select “Yes” to enable 2FA and hit Save. At that point, you will receive instructions to download your authenticator app and immediately take advantage of 2FA.

From this point forward, you’ll be required to enter your secondary passcode anytime you login to Anybill. System administrators can also enable 2FA for other system users. Any questions? Contact our Customer service team at AnyHelp@anybill.com to receive assistance on enabling or using 2FA.  

Four Tips for Defining Your AP Automation Requirements

You already know you need to automate your accounts payable process. Paper invoices, approval and payment delays, and a lack of visibility just aren’t working for your organization anymore. You’re making it a priority to identify a solution that will relieve your AP headaches.

Maybe you’ve already begun to research solutions. But to effectively evaluate AP automation providers, you need to have a deep understanding of your requirements. Having the right information will help you choose the right AP solution for your organization’s specific needs.

If this sounds like you, we’ve got a few tips on how to best prepare for your AP automation project.

  1. Define Your Current Process

You already have an established process for invoice intake, approval routing, and payment processing. The best automation tools will let you preserve these required workflows, taking your existing steps and recreating them in a streamlined system. At the same time, outdated or redundant steps may be improved or discarded entirely.

To understand how AP solutions can help, you should map out your entire AP workflow as it exists today. A simple AP process chart or workflow map (with all available branching possibilities) will help during the evaluation process and will also help during implementation once you choose a solution.

To find solutions that are the right fit, you should also define (on average) how many invoices and payments you process in a month, the types of payments you require, and how that information is currently handled in your accounting system.

  1. Assess Your Current Weaknesses

If you’re seeking out a solution, you’re likely aware there are weaknesses in your current AP process. But you should make sure you have a clear understanding of your challenges at every step, not just the part of the process you encounter every day. Examine your organization’s AP from end-to-end to identify every issue – then, you’ll be able to more accurately determine if the solutions you’re evaluating can help address these issues.

  1. Identify the Systems Your AP Solution Must Play Nice With

An AP solution that exists in a vacuum won’t work for any organization that uses accounting software or other ERP systems. AP automation tools need to work with the other software at your disposal. Most of the time, integrations are very simple, simply allowing for easy transfer of data to and from accounting systems. But this transfer should be very easy for the user to accomplish. If too much data manipulation or formatting is required, it starts to defeat the purpose of automation.

  1. Get Your Staff on Board

Your staff and vendors will be affected by a change in AP. There is usually some grumbling during times of change, but the aim of automation is to make things easier for everyone. Bring in key stakeholders to the AP evaluation process. Get their input. By listening to their concerns or suggestions, you’re involving them in the future direction of the organization. While all staff members may not get to make a final decision, they will be the first to identify potential challenges or bring up key considerations that you may not have considered.

 

The Evolution of Accounts Payable

Paying bills is a necessity of doing business. Bills represent money, time and manpower – the effort organizations spend tracking invoices, arranging payments and recording costs for accounting purposes can be a large burden if it isn't optimized.

The rise of digital technology brought about a major sea change for accounts payable (AP) operations that transformed the AP process and allowed forward thinking organizations to take AP from a back-office function to one that offers strategic advantages.

What brought us to this point? Here we take a look at the changes that have occurred over the past few decades to take AP from a necessary function to an important contributor to the financial health of an organization.

In the Beginning

Through the 1980s, AP was largely a manual, paper-based role. Invoices were printed by vendors and delivered (by hand or mail) to the customer. Needless to say, this caused many complications. Invoices could be lost in the shuffle, especially when any employee could receive a bill. Invoices could sit on desks or in drawers for days or weeks, never to land with the appropriate person. The result was lost invoices, missed payments and poor vendor management.

Advanced AP organizations attempted to standardize the process – attaching routing sheets to invoices, standardizing check runs, and establishing controls over the process. Even then, the weaknesses of a paper-based system couldn’t be eliminated.

Rise of Technology

By the 1990s, the boom of affordable computers and software led to a widespread tech adoption. IT departments began to pop up in organizations of all sizes, and software systems began to open up new possibilities for business processes. With this shift, standardized processes grew and AP began its move towards automation. AP departments became more centralized and focused on reducing the cost and labor necessary to manage their operations.

Of course, at this point billing was still largely paper-based, and while better AP controls cut costs, there were still major hurdles to jump before technology could help manage the entire AP process.

The Birth of Automation

By the turn of the millennium, cloud technology and software as a service (Saas) had arrived. With a new software delivery model untethering organizations from desktops, the SaaS industry exploded.

AP automation was a natural fit for the SaaS model. Invoice processing, approval workflows, and even payments could now be managed in a third party service, while organizations still maintained strict control.

Paper invoices were no longer a requirement, and as the available payment options continued to grow, paper checks were no longer the gold standard – organizations and vendors now had access to cheaper and more efficient solutions.

Modern Era

Which brings us to today. Anybill launched in 2001 – since then, technology has continued to advance at a rapid rate. Mobile technology is nearly ubiquitous. An estimated 74% of organizations use or plan to use Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, and employees bring their company laptops home and on the road.  Automating AP is now a major priority for many organizations. The cost and labor savings are still there, but increasingly it is a natural step in modernizing business and untethering from a cumbersome AP process.

BYOD adoption has enabled workers to hold meetings and give presentations across multiple locations, check their email on vacation, and keep on top of deadlines as they travel. AP professionals now have the same opportunity to easily manage AP from any location.

In addition, with all the options available, organizations are now fully enabled to make their vendor relationships a strategic part of their business. Dynamic discounting, preferred payment networks and increased flexibility for vendors are all factors that can take the vendor-customer relationship to the next level.

The Future

One of the biggest upcoming trends in the AP space is going to center around payments. An increasing number of payment options will allow organizations to further shift away from paper checks, and pay their vendors faster and more efficiently than ever before. Innovation in payments will bring about big movement toward these electronic options – what remains to be seen is the rate at which these options will be adopted in the United States (we are far behind the European Union and many other nations when it comes to adopting e-payments).

At Anybill, we’re monitoring for future developments and trends to evolve with current technology and make payments more efficient.. We’ve seen a huge shift in technology in the past decade, and in ten years the landscape could be completely different. Whatever happens, we’re prepared to grow and adjust with the changes!

 

Announcing The Anybill Vendor Portal

The typical vendor relationship is simply transactional in nature: the vendor provides a good or service, and the customer pays. But as anyone who has managed long term vendor-customer relationships knows, the most valuable ones are built on trust, collaboration, and respect - foundations that can only be set over time with mutual cooperation. These relationships become alliances in which everyone prospers.

Strengthening that relationship - and providing immediate, tangible benefits along the way - was our motivation when building Anybill's vendor portal, a tool that now allows our clients to provide improved invoicing power and visibility to their vendors. 

Our users now have the ability to invite their vendors directly to the vendor portal via email. Vendors will now be able to directly submit bills online in a matter of minutes, giving them better control over invoice submission.

Once the vendor submits a bill, it is automatically routed through their customer's pre-determined approval process. As the bill goes through approval to payment, vendors can login at any time to check on the status of their bills. This eliminates the need for follow-up, saving time for both the vendor and the customer.

The vendor portal allows customers and vendors to focus on business, not bills. Greater visibility and improved efficiency can serve to further solidify and encourage strong, mutually beneficial relationships between vendor and customer. If you're an Anybill user interested in inviting your vendors to the vendor portal, you can view instructions on sending invites in the Training section of Anybill or contact us at anyhelp@anybill.com

7 ‘Do This, Not That’ Practices Every Organization Should Use

Many organizations incorporate poor practices into their accounts payable function without knowing it. Check out Mary Schaeffer's seven ‘Do This, Not That’ suggestions to eliminate these common problems.

  1. DO: Centralize the receipt of invoices.
    DON’T: Allow the vendor to decide where to send invoices.
  1. DO: Return unidentified invoices to the sender.
    DON’T: Try and determine who placed the order.
  1. DO: Establish and mandate the use of a rigid coding standard.
    DON’T: Allow each processor to enter data as they wish.
  1. DO: Review statements for open vendor credits on a regular basis.
    DON’T: Ignore the issue.
  1. DO: Mail all checks.
    DON’T: Return checks to the requisitioner.
  1. DO: Address the personal device issue.
    DON’T: Allow employees to do as they see fit.
  1. DO: Learn as much as possible about invoice automation.
    DON’T: Hope the issue will go away.

To learn more best practices and how you can avoid an internal control breakdown, download the full whitepaper here.

Anybill CEO and Co-founder Serves as the Chair of the DC Heart Ball

We are proud to announce that our CEO and Co-founder, Matt Voorhees, is the Chairman of the DC Heart Ball for a second year in a row.  The DC Heart Ball is an annual black-tie gala which celebrates the support of the American Heart Association’s research and programs to help prevent heart disease as well as help survivors thrive.

Last year's event was a huge success where they raised $1,190,000 for critical research, education, and heart health support advocacy.  This year, their goal is to raise $1.5 million and the event's theme is the Lunar New Year.  According to the Asian tradition, the Lunar New Year brings longevity, happiness and good fortune.

Check out the full article here

Anybill Employees Serve the Homeless

A group of Anybill employees recently served the homeless at Miriam's Kitchen, a local soup kitchen in DC committed to ending chronic homelessness. They said it was such an incredible experience to help those in need.

Miriam's Kitchen's mission is to end chronic homelessness in DC by building meaningful connections with chronically homeless individuals. They place homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing and ensure they have the necessary support to remain in housing.

Fraud News and How to Prevent It

An Accounts Payable Manager at Carolina Steel Group, Angela Womack, has been convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering.  Womack managed to create non-profit accounts named "IBOCF."  She made the checks payable to "International IBOCF" which were included on the company's vendor reports, even though it was not one of Carolina Steel Group's vendors. She altered internal accounting data and made the checks to appear to be paid to legitimate vendors.

Womack was sentenced to 70 months in prison along with three years of supervised release.  Womack is ordered to pay restitution of $2,857,201.85 and a special assessment of $300.00.  Read the full news article here.

Make sure your organization has strong internal controls in place. Here are a few tips on how to prevent fraud:

  1. Integrate the appropriate segregation of duties (one person per leg).
  2. Run frequent reports showing who has access to what. Be sure to take into consideration promotions and employees who left the company.
  3. Create a written, detailed expence policy for your organization.
  4. Compile daily bank reconciliations and check for unauthorized transactions.
  5. Automate your accounts payable process which will allow you to have an audit trail and set approval routes. It greatly reduces your risk of fraud when you know who did what when.

Check out our on-demand webinar on internal controls here.

SMBs are Embracing the Cloud

The cloud. You've probably heard the buzz about it and you might already be using it if you use social networking sites or online storage.  It plays a key part in our lives today and is changing business processes.

The cloud has played a significant role in the world of accounts payable automation, in particular paving the way for small to medium sized businesses to take advantage of it.  In the past, AP automation was limited to large enterprise companies who had the human and capital resources to implement this type of technology.  

Today, the flexibility of the cloud makes it a perfect fit for SMBs since it involves no excessive set up, infrastructure, storage, or ongoing maintenance costs. The ease-of-use, reduced costs, and scalability of the cloud are driving the SMB market to adopt AP automation.

SMBs interested in winning the game this year and beyond will gain quantifiable advantages through the adoption of AP automation.

To learn more about how SMBs are adopting AP automation, check out our new article here.

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