Client Story: Payables automation that integrates with ERP

Focused on the supply chain

A Midwest real estate firm that develops, owns and manages a wide range of properties across the United States, including dozens of hotels, apartment communities, and millions of square feet of commercial real estate, is focused on maintaining a strong supply chain. It also understands the role its payment practices play in that effort.

To operate the business, the company has relationships with 3,500 vendors and pays just under 7,000 invoices each month. Providing a timely, convenient payment experience — to keep vendors happy and supplies flowing — is critical to its success.

  • The client: A diversified, national real estate firm based in the Midwest
  • The challenge: Revive and enhance the company’s electronic payables program after adopting a new ERP system
  • The solution: U.S. Bank AP Optimizer®, a holistic accounts payable automation solution

New ERP system requires payments re-evaluation

Adopting a new Yardi ERP system eliminated the company’s electronic payables connections through which it was paying most of its vendors. This created an opportunity to consider other electronic payment platforms.

The company explored a variety of alternatives but found many had transaction limits that weren’t high enough to accommodate some of its payment needs.

The AP Optimizer alternative

After consulting with U.S. Bank, the company decided to adopt the U.S. Bank AP Optimizer accounts payable automation solution.

AP Optimizer is a single-system solution that integrates into ERP systems, spans the entire invoice-through-payment process, and provides comprehensive security and fraud prevention technology. It also offers access to the Paymode-X® network of 550,000-plus suppliers already accepting electronic payments and offers cash-back rebates on payments made electronically.

Why AP Optimizer?

AP Optimizer supports the larger ACH payments the real estate firm must make. A further advantage favoring AP Optimizer was that the company’s purchasing manager had used Paymode-X AP automation from Bottomline previously while at a different company. “To see how U.S. Bank was partnering with Paymode-X, and how the convenience of technology use was a large priority for the bank, that was very attractive to us,” she says.

Another deciding factor was the opportunity to be an early adopter helping to shape AP Optimizer. “In payables, you don’t have a lot of chances to be in a cutting-edge space and test cool new features,” the purchasing manager says. “Being an early adopter injected a little bit of excitement into the project for our AP team.”

A comfortable integration experience

Integrating an electronic payments platform with an ERP system can be challenging. However, the company addressed that hurdle by heeding the U.S. Bank recommendation to enlist the integration services of FitechGelb, a real estate technology services firm with extensive experience supporting Yardi systems. FitechGelb installs a program it calls “Payment Buddy” in the Yardi ERP to manage connections to payment services.

Using FitechGelb to support an integrated payables experience was a very comfortable decision for decision makers at the real estate firm because they had used the consultant for other projects. They knew its quality of work and familiarity with the Yardi system.

“The actual process of being connected was very hands off for us,” the company’s purchasing manager says. “It was nice to know we were in good hands.”

Rebuilding epayments momentum

The company launched AP Optimizer and began rebuilding its electronic accounts payable (epayables) program, offering vendors basic ACH, premium ACH and virtual card payment options. After using AP Optimizer for two years, the company was able to return to paying most of its vendors electronically, with the goal of getting as close to 100% as possible.

The purchasing manager says she has enjoyed the control U.S. Bank and its solution partners have given the company in determining which vendors to target in supplier enablement efforts and campaign messaging. She credits AP Optimizer with improving vendors’ payment experiences, reducing fraud risk by minimizing check issuance and outsourcing the storage of vendor banking information, generating rebates on premium ACH and virtual card payments (helping to offset fees), and cutting staff time related to manual check issuance and related paper processing.

 

“The actual process of being connected was very hands off for us. It was nice to know we were in good hands.”

-Purchasing manager for the real estate company

Future plans

The firm is also considering using U.S. Bank Payee Choice in conjunction with AP Optimizer. With this strategy, the company can enable residents of its apartment communities to choose how they receive their security deposit reimbursements, with options such as ACH and Zelle® digital payments.

Team effort products results

The adoption and implementation of AP Optimizer to automate payables was a team effort, the company says. “Internally, we engaged our cash management and treasury people, as well as our IT department,” the purchasing manager explains. “We also successfully partnered with U.S. Bank, FitechGelb to create the connections between our Yardi ERP and the payments platform, and Bottomline for effective supplier enablement and risk mitigation.”

The result: With AP Optimizer, manual payments processing is waning, payments security is up, and vendor relationships are stronger than ever, she says.

Find out more about automating your accounts payable.

Payables automation can benefit companies in a wide range of industries and sizes. Contact us to discuss your goals and how we can help you achieve them.

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Start of disclosure content
Disclosures

U.S. Bank AP Optimizer is powered by Paymode-X. Bottomline Technologies and Paymode-X are trademarks of Bottomline Technologies, Inc and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Eligibility requirements, other conditions and fees may apply. Services mentioned may be subject to credit approval. Deposit products offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.

U.S. Bank AP Optimizer® is a registered trademark of U.S. Bank N.A.

Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.

The foregoing products are available solely for business transactions and not for personal, family or household transactions.