What is account payable process

The accounts payable process is the invoice cycle from procurement to payment. Learn how to overcome the biggest productivity killers in the AP process.

What is account payable process

From ordering supplies to paying vendors, the accounts payable process is integral in running a successful business. But what exactly does it involve? In this blog article, we’ll dive into the details of the accounts payable process and its associated workflow, giving you an understanding of how it works and how it can help your business run smoothly.

Introduction to Accounts Payable

Accounts payable is the process of paying invoices from suppliers. The accounts payable process usually starts when a company receives an invoice from a supplier. The company then has to determine whether the invoice is valid and if it should be paid. If the invoice is valid, the company will pay it within a certain period of time. Accounts payable is a crucial part of any business because it helps businesses keep track of their expenses and manage their cash flow.

Components of Accounts Payable Process

The Accounts Payable Process has four main components:

  • Invoices: An invoice is a request for payment that includes all the necessary information about the goods or services provided, including the quantity, price, date of service, and terms of payment.
  • Purchase Orders: A purchase order is a contract between a buyer and a seller that specifies the exact goods or services to be provided, as well as the price, delivery date, and terms of payment.
  • Payments: Payments are made to suppliers in exchange for the goods or services they have provided.
  • Accounting Records: Accounting records are used to track all invoices, purchase orders, and payments made by a company.

Steps Involved in Accounts Payable Process

Assuming you have a basic understanding of what accounts payable is, we will now go over the steps involved in the accounts payable process. This process can be different for every organization, but we will outline the most common steps involved.

  • Accounts payable starts with the invoice. An invoice is a document that is provided by the vendor that shows what was purchased, how much was purchased, and any other relevant information.
  • Once the invoice has been received, it needs to be reviewed to ensure accuracy. This includes checking that all items were received and that the prices are correct.
  • After the invoice has been verified, it needs to be entered into the accounting system. This step can be done manually or electronically, depending on the accounting system being used.
  • Once the invoices have been entered into the accounting system, they need to be approved for payment. This approval can come from various people within an organization, such as a manager or director.
  • After approval, payments can finally be made to the vendor. This step is typically done electronically, but manual payments are still possible in some cases. Checks or wire transfers are typically used for payment.
  • The last step in accounts payable is to send a payment confirmation to the vendor. This document lets them know that their invoice has been paid and serves as documentation of payment for future reference

Best Practices for Optimizing the Accounts Payable Process

The accounts payable process is a critical part of any organization’s financial management. An efficient and effective accounts payable process can help an organization save money, improve cash flow, and reduce accounting and administrative costs.

There are a number of best practices that can help organizations optimize their accounts payable processes. Some of the most important best practices include:

  • Automation: Automating the accounts payable process can help organizations save time and money. Automation can also help to improve accuracy and reduce the risk of errors.
  • Electronic Payments: Making payments electronically can help to speed up the payment process and improve cash flow. Electronic payments can also reduce accounting and administrative costs.
  • Vendor Management: Managing vendor relationships effectively can help to improve payment terms and discounts, as well as reduce accounting and administrative costs.
  • Process improvement: Continuously reviewing and improving the accounts payable process can help to identify areas where efficiency gains can be made.

Tips for Streamlining the Accounts Payable Process

There are a few key things you can do to streamline your accounts payable process:

  • Automate as much as possible. This includes things like setting up recurring payments and integrating with your accounting software.
  • Stay on top of invoice approvals. Make sure you have a system in place for approving invoices, and that everyone involved knows how it works.
  • Keep track of your spending. Knowing where your money is going will help you catch errors and fraud, and make it easier to budget for the future.
  • Stay organized. A good filing system will help you keep track of everything, from invoices to payment records.
  • Communicate with your vendors. If you have questions about an invoice or need more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vendor directly.

Tools/Software Available to Automate the Accounts Payable Process

Assuming you have a basic understanding of what the accounts payable process entails, we will now discuss the tools and software available to automate this process. This is critical for businesses of all sizes, as manually processing invoices can be very time-consuming and prone to error.

There are many different software programs on the market that can automate accounts payable. Some are designed specifically for this purpose, while others include accounts payable functionality as part of a broader accounting or financial management solution. When choosing a solution, it is important to consider your specific needs and requirements.

Some features to look for in an accounts payable automation solution include:

  • The ability to scan and capture invoice data electronically
  • A digital workflow that routes invoices for approval and payment
  • Integration with your accounting or financial management system
  • Robust reporting and analytics capabilities

There are many great options available when it comes to automating accounts payable. Some of the leading solutions include Sage Intacct, SAP Concur, Oracle Financials, and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Talk to your accountant or financial advisor to determine which solution would be best for your business.


The accounts payable process is essential to any business and should be taken seriously. By understanding the basics of this process, you can ensure that your company remains on top of its finances and keeps accurate records. When done correctly, the accounts payable process can help you save time, money and stress in the long run. With proper planning and execution, your business will be able to manage its finances more effectively so it can continue to grow without worrying about cash flow issues.