5 accounts receivable software tools for smarter billing

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Elizabeth Dulcich

Published on September 22, 2023

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4min

Cash flow and management are critical considerations for companies, especially during lean times. When every pound, euro, and dollar count, your ability to get paid on time, manage late or missing payments, and identify churn risks has an enormous impact.

That’s accounts receivable in a nutshell: getting paid on time, in full, and (hopefully) on an ongoing basis. 

This used to be complex, with large collections teams - or stressed salespeople - endlessly chasing payments. Today, much of the work can be easily automated. Which means more money coming in when you need it, with far less effort. 

This article introduces five of the best tools for this task, as recommended by CFOs and finance leaders. 

But first, we’d better start with a couple of definitions.

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What are accounts receivable?

Accounts receivable (AR) is the collective term for money owed to you by customers (or other debtors). It’s also commonly referred to as billing. And it’s obviously crucial to company success - if you can’t effectively receive payment for your goods or services, your business won’t last very long. 

AR goes on the balance sheet as an asset. Even if the money isn’t in your bank accounts yet, it will soon enough. 

What is a billing or AR tool? 

AR software helps to manage the billing cycle by automating the payment process, or by shortening the length of time you need to wait for payment. When cash flows in seamlessly without delay, you can deploy working capital where you need it most. 

Just as vitally, you won’t have finance and sales team members chasing unpaid invoices. 

The recommendations in this list include classic billing tools that let customers pay instantly, and tools that help you manage outstanding payments and receive what’s owed. 

Finance experts’ five favourite accounts receivable software

This list comes from a survey of 180+ experts from the CFO Connect community. The vast majority are CFOs, VPs, or Heads of Finance. For them, the value in a tool comes from efficiency gains and the freedom it offers to their team members. 

Here’s what they recommend. 

1. Stripe 

Hugely popular with founders and finance teams, Stripe is the market-leading payment portal for modern companies - B2C in particular. Its API provides flexibility and lets you control how you bill your customers. 

Stripe integrates with your current CRM, ERP, or accounting software for a flexible and quick billing solution. It’s considered one of the most versatile and robust billing solutions available. 

  • API

  • Flexibility

  • Machine learning technology

Best for 

  • E-commerce and B2C companies of all sizes 

What survey respondents said

  • “Great functionality for B2C subscription billing.” 

  • “Stripe is almost flawless. If you can integrate it with your product, it works seamlessly.” 

2. Chargebee 

Chargebee automates the billing and subscription management process for SaaS companies. The tool lets you set up payment gateways so that customers can pay quickly and easily - similar to Stripe. But its true value is in managing longer-term, recurring subscription payments. 

A popular feature is Chargebee Retention, which helps subscription businesses identify and reduce churn risks. It would normally require serious diligence and complex internal data to monitor at-risk accounts, but Chargebee’s tools help you spot them easily. 

Along with billing and subscription management, Chargebee handles invoicing, taxes, accounting, customer management, and more billing-related tasks. 

  • Multi-currency

  • Multi-language

  • Customisable billing cycles

  • Dozens of subscription models

Best for

  • SaaS companies 

What survey respondents said

  • “Good price/value and flexibility.” 

  • “Integrations, functionality, UI, reporting features.” 

3. Upflow 

Upflow is an accounts receivable software that helps finance teams drive their cash collection. You can set up automated email workflows to customers to pay, and internal teams to follow up on overdue actions. For financial controllers and billing teams, this removes a huge amount of manual work. 

The software integrates well into existing accounting stacks, and claims to reduce late payments by 50%. It connects with Quickbooks, Netsuite, Sage Intacct, Chargebee, Xero, Stripe Billing, Zuora, and can also develop specific APIs.

Upflow also provides detailed analytics so you can better understand your cash flows. You have real-time insights into what’s due and where your biggest opportunities to collect cash are.

  • Real-time metrics

  • Automated reminders

  • Insightful analytics

Best for 

  • B2B businesses with long AR cycles

What survey respondents said

  • “SaaS native and built for NetSuite.” 

4. GoCardless

GoCardless aims to set “people and businesses free from the frustrations and cost of out-dated payment methods, with simple and secure direct bank payment solutions.” It both collects payments at the point of sale (through your website) and manages recurring transactions. 

Users particularly like the ability to set up direct debit payments. This gives customers another payment option outside of credit card, which may not suit every buyer. 

The tool also includes an add-on to automatically recover failed payments. According to GoCardless, 70% of failed transactions are collected as a result, without any extra work for you.

  • Ease and simplicity of use

  • Direct debit payments for customers

  • Relatively easy API

Best for 

  • Modern businesses wanting flexible billing options

What survey respondents said

  • “Well processed, good level of information, and very strong support.”

5. Workday

Workday is a comprehensive ERP (enterprise resource planning) tool with far more financial applications than a strict accounts receivable solution. For this reason, it won’t be for all businesses, and certainly not as your first invoicing system. 

But survey respondents particularly noted the value in using the same system for accounting, invoicing, and preparing financial reports. And you’ll also have outgoing spend (accounts payable) recorded in that system, so overall cash management becomes much more robust. 

As with all ERPs, setup can be complex and time-consuming. But for larger businesses that need very detailed, tailored financial reporting and monitoring, it’s one of the best options available. 

Popular features

  • Clear audit trail

  • User and team workflows

  • Multi-entity and multi-currency consolidation

Best for

  • Larger enterprises or scaleups that need a single, comprehensive source of truth

What survey respondents said

  • “Benefit of using the same ERP for accounting and invoicing.”

Keep cash flowing in, and focus on building

Effective accounts receivable isn’t necessarily as exciting or glamorous as a new product line or opening your next entity. Getting paid is table stakes for running a business. 

But that doesn’t make it easy, nor does it mean there isn’t room to optimize. The tools above take care of the most important part first - ensuring customers can pay. They also help to chase late payments and follow up on failed transactions. 

If a smarter, more efficient accounts receivable process sounds good to you, try one of the solutions above.

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