February 7, 2011
An SMB is more likely to save time than the environment, judging by one accounting SaaS. But saving time is good, too.Even if your accounts payable volume is not killing your bank account, it may be killing some trees. If that bothers you, Web-based software-as-a-service Bill.com says it can move SMBs into the world of paperless payment.
But after talking to the service's vice president, Jeff Schultz, it seemed clear the main advantage was time savings, as plenty of paper may still be involved. But the SaaS can wring more paper-handling and data-entry time out of an SMB's accounting process. You pay them $19.99 for an accounts payable subscription, which includes a fax number that your vendors can send invoices to, although they could also use e-mail. You log on and assign the digitized invoices to vendor accounts, with the amount and due date. The service then pays from your bank account, since you have given them access. Payments via paper are 99 cents each, and electronic payments are 49 cents each. A computer-aided human will read and assign the faxes for you for 99 cents each, cutting your data entry time even further. Accounts receivables subscriptions cost $24.99, plus 49 cents for each electronic payment. The AP system will synchronize with the user's QuickBooks, Intacct, or Peachtree accounting systems. The AR system synchs to QuickBooks. What it does not do is handle inventory or other ERP functions-there is where it differs from large corporate accounting packages, Schultz said. On the whole, the service sounded inexpensive-there is no limit to the number of accounts you can track. But it strikes me that it would be mainly useful if you are doing everything yourself-and then you might be uncomfortable having another party involved. If you are used to having an accountant, then you may feel no need for the service. On the other hand, it also struck me that that road warriors could benefit. With everything going through the cloud, you could log on and do business from a hotel room as from your nominal office. And, your data in the cloud is very likely to be more secure than in your filing cabinet, or in the PC by your desk.
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