The ability to quickly record outgoings can help to ensure that all business-related costs are accounted for within your records. Cloud-based applications, specifically designed for scanning invoices, make this process simple to complete, whilst also providing the necessary consistency in processing that is required to provide meaningful management information. 

These types of applications are easy to use and consequently they can have the advantage of getting staff and business owners to engage in the process – a necessary evil in recording all the costs of the business. 

Extra features 

Cloud-based applications offer a number of additional features over and above simply scanning and processing supplier invoices. Some have an in-built Expenses module, which allows staff to submit expense claims for processing, and some will scan and reconcile supplier statements, which is very useful to ensure that all costs are accounted for. Many also have a ‘fetch’ facility – for example, if you were to provide account log-in details for, say, Vodafone, then when the software detects that a new invoice has been generated, it will log into the supplier website and collect and process the invoice automatically. This feature is best used with utility providers currently, but is expanding to other sectors, such as Travis Perkins or Jewsons. This feature will become more and more useful as suppliers increasingly move away from sending physical invoices. 

Workflow and authorisation 

Many small businesses do not have an embedded authorisation process. Cloud-based applications provide a simple form of authorisation process that can be used to manage the business's expenditure. If there is a need for something more robust, a system like ApprovalMax would be a complementary add-on product. 


The way these products are priced varies from a “per invoice processed” amount to an “all you can eat (process)” cost. It is important to assess the needs of your business so as to determine the correct pricing structure – high quantities of invoices might benefit from a flat “all you can eat” rate, whereas lower-processing businesses will be better off with an ad hoc charge.

In this guide, we have provided an easy at-a-glance comparison of the main features of five bill automation apps, as well as a more in-depth analysis of two of the front runners and Xero’s own brand version. Ultimately, the app you choose should come down to your own workflow and the functionality you need. 

Our team is on hand to help should you wish to discuss your needs in more depth to determine the best app for you.