Managing cash flow involves managing a lot of moving parts — none more critical than making sure that equipment and supplies come in the door so that people can do their work and also, of course, paying for all that. As in many things B2B, the process is still largely paper-based and, as such, has inefficiencies baked in. The movement toward technology may be a glacial one but once set in motion, likely inevitable.
Esker, a document processing and automation company that uses the cloud to speed pay to procurement cycles, has just rolled out the latest features for its automated platform launched three years ago, this time focused on mobile and now expanded to include both purchase requisitions and also invoices from suppliers. Esker Anywhere allows for “in-the-field” approval (or rejection) of those documents (and data contained therein), with the ability to add commentary and track document flow.
Steve Smith, the company’s U.S. chief operating officer, said that companies across any number of industries are becoming more mobile and that, as a result, Esker has been taking a “more mobile view, where no one is at a desk all the time, working eight hour days, five days a week. Work is now done on airlines, on trains, and managers and executives have to gain access to data and documents — and not stop the whole company’s process as they wait for a purchase order to be approved.”
Esker Anywhere’s ability to do a deep dive into such document flow allows for decision-makers to view invoices and purchase requisitions sorted by those that are waiting in the queue for approval or by those that are on hold. They can also, among other features, access data that can span the history of a supplier or search documents by amounts paid, and running commentary can be tracked as well between those who requested and those who approved orders.
The solution is not geared toward any one specific industry, but when asked by PYMNTS if certain sectors might be speedier than others to be relatively early adopters of Esker Anywhere, Smith said that one industry might be life sciences, with a typical profile of “lots of suppliers and lots of salespeople out in the field.” The typical “sweet spot” for Esker rests with firms at $100 million in revenues and above, with the simple fact in place that companies with at least some size and scale have executives that are typically traveling extensively and often need mobile functionality with their devices through the workday.
Noting that typically the movement toward mobile functionality might bring with it concerns about security, Smith said that the security measures that might be rolled up with a payments solution might not need to be in place with an invoicing platform, given that the information that goes back and forth between parties is not as sensitive or potentially damaging. Nonetheless, Esker’s mobile offering carries with it encryption and password protection through the app. In addition, the app can be “switched on or off” and managed remotely to ensure that employees have access as needed (or, since we are in the days of BYOD, can be switched “off” once they no longer are with a given firm).
Looking toward the future, Smith said that the flexible review options tied to invoicing on the go do imply that invoices can and will eventually be settled via mobile as well. People will want to move beyond “the ability to just say yes or no” to an invoice and will want to be able to make payments, he said, though such functions would be done by Esker via partnerships with payment processing firms.