U.S. Bank (NYSE:USB) and Sage (LON:SGE) announced this week at Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago a new partnership that will benefit Sage customers in the U.S. and Canada.
The partnership centers around the introduction of AP Optimizer, an application built by U.S. Bank that lives inside the Sage Live accounting platform.
Its purpose, according to Bradley Matthews, head of Middle Market Product and Marketing for U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems, who spoke with Small Business Trends by phone, is to address three pain points experienced by Sage customers: knowing the best time to pay invoices, the best method for paying them and how to make the payment process easier.
“AP Optimizer creates a cash flow analysis that shows outgoing and inbound invoices over a 90-day period,” Matthews said. “It maps the two sets of invoices together and shows the times when the business has the most cash on hand, or the reverse, when it is cash poor.”
Cash Flow Statement
Matthews said that by seeing the two areas, a business can know the best time to pay and when to avoid making payments, as the following screenshots illustrate:
“By showing the projected cash flow from both payables and receivables, the user quickly sees how to maximize their working capital and avoid ‘crunch times’ of late payments and loss of ‘float,’” Matthews said.
Real-time Accounts Payables
AP Optimizer marks the first truly digital accounting and payment solution that enables small to medium-sized businesses to manage their cash flow in near real-time. In fact, it was the real-time nature of Sage Live that attracted U.S. Bank’s attention in the first place.
“Sage Live users can see at any given moment when a payment is coming due, and then decide to rearrange the payment schedule based on the amount of cash on hand, thanks to the information AP Optimizer provides,” Matthews said. “If a payment from a customer comes in, perhaps via a credit card, users will see a jump in the revenue line immediately and can change their invoice payment schedule to accommodate.”
U.S. Bank Customers Get Payables Tool; Everyone Else Can Analyze
AP Optimizer has two main parts: Payables, which lists the invoices and allows users to pay, and the Optimizer portion, which shows the best way to pay.
While the payables portion is only available to U.S. Bank customers, according to Matthews, Sage Live users can gain insights from the Optimizer’s comparative data, which shows how their business stacks up against its peers and best-in-class performers. It also includes a calculation of the savings or additional revenue that companies could realize by making specific changes.
“The comparative that the tool generates — how much an organization is spending on payments, how that compares with its peers and with best-in-class and how much additional revenue could be realized by making adjustments — is a game changer for small businesses,” Matthews said. “It enables them to do something only big companies could do before.”
Currently, AP Optimizer is designed for larger small businesses preparing to cross the chasm to become a medium-sized enterprise. That’s not to suggest smaller companies can’t use the tool, but they must be Sage Live users to do so. U.S. Bank is looking into ways to integrate the tool with Sage One, the accounting platform used by smaller companies, Matthews said.