As someone who has owned and runs small businesses for well over two decades, I’ve spent lots of time using various SMB-focused small business platforms. Half a dozen of the businesses I’m involved with using Xero for their accounting needs and I’ve gotten used to opening Xero each morning and magically seeing outstanding invoices automatically matched to bank transactions from the day before. It’s a simple thing, but not having to manual reconcile my bank accounts is actually a big time-saver. So if a small business can pay $20 a month and get a service that does something so simple yet elegant, surely enterprises with their massive IT budgets would be streets ahead.

Alas, this is not the case and in my experiences interacting with enterprise technology systems, I’m staggered at just how backward they are. Tipalti, a payables automation solution that helps enterprises gain efficiencies for the accounts payable departments is introducing some new technology that, while useful, is pretty much what I’ve had for a decade or more.

I need to quickly add that I’m not criticizing Tipalti here. They’re a good vendor doing good things, it’s just that the fact that this is newsworthy says something depressing about enterprise software generally.

That said, let’s see what Tipalti is offering. Its PO-matching service is an addition to the company’s end-to-end AP workflow. The new capability helps finance teams eliminate overspending, strengthen internal controls, reduce time and effort spent on invoice approval, and simplify audits. It does this, quite simply, by delivering a dashboard that shows outstanding purchase orders on one side, and supplier invoices on the other. From there it is easy for users to identify duplicate supplier invoices and other anomalies. Alongside the window, Tipalti is offering smart matching that automagically selects the most likely match between PO and invoice.

Chen Amit, CEO of Tipalti riffs on the value this brings and, inadvertently gives us a clear indication of just how bad enterprise processes are when he comments that:

PO matching is an increasingly important function in the AP process. However, most invoice matching is still largely done manually today, which is a time-consuming, inaccurate, and labor-intensive approach. Our automated approach saves organizations significant money and time, ensures purchase authorization, and eliminates the possibility of paying incorrect, duplicate, or fraudulent invoices. Most importantly, the entire experience is intuitive and integrated to ensure high policy adoption rates that streamline the complete AP operation.

Like I said. In an SMB setting, this would be tablestakes and not an opportunity to claim a revolution taking place. Justifying that something seemingly simple is seen as hugely unique in the enterprise space, one Tipalti customer, Jason Chen, VP of Finance and Operations at Exxact commented that:

We selected Tipalti because they were the only solution on the market with the vision of a truly end-to-end platform to automate the entire accounts payable operation. Their new PO matching offering is further testament of their ability to deliver on that unique approach. It is the most modern and intuitive solution I have seen and will help our financial operation gain even more efficiencies, while eliminating costs.

Anyway, not to dwell on enterprise broken-ness, for those interested in the breadth of what Tipalti can do, here are some further PO matching capabilities:

  • Two-way and three-way auto-match based on header and line levels using sophisticated matching rules
  • Support for PO and non-PO invoices, with configurable rules that align with company matching policies, by dollar amount or supplier account
  • Automatic PO coding populates PO details on invoices
  • Configurable tolerance thresholds, by dollar or percent, to identify freight costs and tax amounts
  • Customizable exception rules route invoices that cannot be auto-matched based on the established tolerance ranges, to ensure fast approvals

MyPOV

All credit to Tipalti for doing this, it’s all useful stuff. But as an industry, we need to take a long, hard look at what we’re delivering to enterprise customers. SOmething is wrong here…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

2 Comments
  • Thanks for the write up, Ben. Insightful. Much of the industry has been maligned in disparate systems, which is what makes seemingly simple tasks difficult. Unless you have an end-to-end approach, you’re talking a lot of middleware and custom integrations to make things happen. Large enterprises can sweat it out with major deployments and IT consultants because they have cash to burn. SMBs can do it because the volumes are not major – no one gets axed because a PO match didn’t happen. But for growing mid-size businesses, they are often caught between stepping up into major investments to deal with their growth or getting by with hired manual labor.

  • True experience shared how things are working in these industry.His way of analyzing the situation is also interesting i learned some day to day facts about these industry.End-to-end approach makes the tasks easy. SMBs volume is not major so it is approachable.

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