Masters India

What Is Accounts Payable? Definition, Process, Software, and Examples, With Job Description, Roles & Responsibilities

Smriti Jain
Smriti Jain at May 31, 2023

What Is Accounts Payable?

Accounts Payable definition depicts that, Accounts Payable means the amount a company owes to third parties or suppliers for a short period. Any goods purchased on credit where the payment can be made after a short period of time is known as accounts payable.

In short, it is the liabilities that a company bears for a short period of time”. This credit created by accounts payable increases “Current liability” and hence it is recorded in the liability side of the balance sheet.

Accounts Payable are short-term debt for a business or company or individual, when a company purchases goods on credit from a supplier for a short term, it is recorded in the current liability of the balance sheet. These dues a business clears on the predecided basis, here a creditor or supplier raises invoices to the purchaser or business. Which a business pay after internal approval or from the consent of the purchaser. For a better understanding of what does account payable means. We can easily relate it to our day-to-day life. We all consume some services such as Electricity for example for a whole month i.e. 30 days or 31 days in return we pay at the end of the month to the company.

Please Note the Two Factors to Be Considered Primarily Important While Recording Accounts Payable:-

  • Time
  • Accuracy

A proper record of the time by which the money needs to be paid and an accurate amount to be disclosed helps in the transparency and acceptability of the accounting treatment.

Understanding Accounts Payable (AP)

Let us understand the end-to-end process:-

  • Receiving of Goods or Services or Invoice

This stage of accounts payable is the initial stage which specifies the importance of the authenticity of the transaction and for further scrutiny of the transaction. A valid invoice with proper records needs to be obtained along with the goods or services. This also helps in the documentation of records. Certain important factors to look at in the invoice can be the vendor’s name, date, time, requirements raised at the time of purchase, quantity, proper stamp and signature. Always match the details of the actual goods or services received with the invoice provided along with the goods or services.

  • Timely Recording Bill

This stage deals with the documentation aspect of the process. As and when the invoices are received and after scrutiny, the invoice details must be updated in the ledger accounts. In case a company uses software then entries are to be made in the software after proper approval also a “Maker and Checker” step can help to reduce error and dual verification is also ensured.

  • Timely Payment

This stage deals with the payment part of the process, where the decided due date of the goods received or service provided requires the unpaid amount to be paid by the buyer. The documents which are essential at this stage can be vendor bank account details, payment vouchers, purchase orders or contracts or agreements with the vendor and supplier. A gentle reminder before the due date to the supplier is a good practice in order to not land in a situation of defaults or continuous chasing behind the supplier.

  • Closure

This is the end part of the accounts payable cycle, as soon as the unpaid amount is paid, vendor books need to be closed. This would result in the reduction of the liability in the books of account of the company. The amount shown as current liability will no longer be treated as a liability. The steps are a generic process flow for understanding the meaning of accounts payable (AP) but can be different within different organizations.

Recording of Accounts Payable - The Accounts Payable Process or Workflow

Let's understand the recording of the Accounts Payable process in a company, generally, it is different companies wises, because some companies follow some steps some do not. Like 

  • Purchase requisitions - Whenever a company purchases or require material, they release a PR for internal approval.
  • Request for quotation - Once PR get approval from top management, then they share the PR with the different vendors for quotation or prices, which we call bidding, once the vendor submits the bid, companies do the analysis of the bid.
  • Purchase order - Once the submitted price bid analysis is complete, companies release the Purchase order to the vendor who meets the requirement in terms of pricing, quality, terms etc.
  • The supplier ships the goods to the buyer and shares the invoices.
  • Companies conduct the GRN for received goods and 
  • Invoice approval takes place inside the company
  • Payment - Once goods are supplied and received without making payment, it should be recorded as a liability in the books of accounts of suppliers or vendors based on the invoice amount. Eventually, when this amount is paid, the liability should be reduced from the balance. Reducing the overall current liability of the supplier.

The Account Payable Process Depends on Various Factors Such As:-

  1. Number of Vendors
  2. The volume of Payments or Transactions Over a Given Period of Time

Trade Payables - Accounts Payable vs. Trade Payables

The term Trade Payable is often used interchangeably with accounts payable. However, the two differ significantly. Trade payable is the money a company owes to its vendor for materials or supplies which are a part of the inventory. In contrast to this, the meaning of account payable is the total sum a company owes.

Accounts Receivable - Accounts Payable vs. Accounts Receivable

Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable are the antitheses. Account payable means the amount a company owes to another company or a service provider. In contrast, account receivable means the amount owed to the company. Account receivable is an asset to the company. 

On purchasing a service or goods, one of the parties will register the amount as a payable account whereas, the other party will add it as an account receivable on their balance sheets. 

Let’s discuss a few accounts payable examples that explain the accounts payable meaning. Company A and Company B are in a business relationship. Company A makes a purchase from Company B on credit. This amount needs to be paid back within the stipulated time. Now, for company A, this amount will be registered as accounts payable. On the contrary, for company B, this amount will be registered as accounts receivable.

What Are Some Examples of Payables? Accounts Payable Best Practices

This is a relevant example of what is an account payable? Here the services are given on credit by the company increasing their liability which would be paid in the following month within the dedicated due dates or deadlines which will ultimately reduce the liability. However,  for the time being, the credit of service given by the company increases its current liability. Say for example, if Company A buys certain goods from Company B on credit with a timeline of 15 days, the amount would be account payable for Company A but Account receivable for Company B. Hence the name itself suggests that the effect is on creditors, the more the creditors the more the accounts payable amount. It is also sometimes referred to as trade accounts payable.

The concept of accounts payable can be generalized to our day-to-day lives as well. Just like companies purchase goods and services on credit, we too purchase services like house cleaning, electricity, data connections, and tv connections. Most of us pay our dues for the month, towards the month-end. Another account payable example can be an employee receiving his salary towards the end of the month for his services to the company.

Why Accounts Payable Software

  • Timely Savings
  • Elimination of stacks of paper
  • Automation of your invoice approval workflow
  • Smooth collaboration with the vendor by the creation of a purchase order and instantaneously sharing the purchase order and chatting with the supplier

What Are Some of the Best Features of Our Accounts Payable Automation Software:

Masters India’s in One Software Provides a Seamless and Real-Time Solution for Vendor Payment Management. Our Software Ensures:

  • Bill inbox
  • Spend analytics
  • Vendor Portal
  • Approval workflow
  • Business management and user management
  • Features where Drag & Drop facility is available for your invoice or simply upload along with the facility of emailing the invoice
  • Provision of an invoice audit trail to check invoice status
  • Integration of the Accounts Payable Software with ERP
  • Effective and efficient onboarding of suppliers and multiple business units
  • Three-way match facility
  • A dashboard to view requests & accept or reject queries in real-time
  • Creation of invoices, debit and credit notes

Benefits of Accounts Payable Automation

The benefits of Account Payable Automation are countless. Some of the best AP Automation software can free your organisation from unnecessary stress. Accounts payable program refers to the set of activities involving the process of paying debts to vendors for goods or services received. A change can be unsettling in the beginning, especially when a particular process has been in action for ages. Changing techniques and strategies within organisations that have been using the same process for years seems daunting.

But in reality, there are numerous advantages of automation within organisations- especially when it comes to processes involving accounts payable programs. It is no denying fact that an organisation may have sustained itself using paper-based, manual, inefficient, and error-prone AP processes in the past; it’s high time that to take a closer inspection at the usefulness or benefits of AP automation and how it can empower a company’s finance department to work efficiently and effectively. AP automation benefits an organisation by cutting costs, generating cash flow opportunities, and building goodwill with vendors. Set an accounts payable benchmark for your current accounts payable system and notice how e-invoicing in place of paper-based processes delivers massive benefits.

Downfalls Encountered By Conventional Accounts Payable Workflow Processes Paper-based, manual, and traditional AP environments are battling to keep up with the world of advancements and technologies. Even today, a bunch of industries tend to depend on processing invoices manually. The manual AP process requires a lot of time and resources while shifting data from invoices into the computer, leading to plenty of errors.

Further, it is harsh to manage, involves slow approval processing, increases the chances of fraud, and is very expensive. Resolving these blunders in traditional ways can cost you a great deal of valuable time, money, and energy. But wait! An excellent solution is waiting to release you from the burden of issues and negligences caused by humans &ndash, and that is the accounts payable process automation. With the account payable benefits, you can experience smooth accounts payable processes.

Benefits Of AP Automation Software

Automation is an indispensable aspect of any business in the 21st-century world. By now, you must be curious to know what these modern technologies bring with them that eliminates tried and tested manual methods. Many organisations experience frustration due to manual errors and delays when these new technologies come into existence and use. Not only can you eradicate frustration by way of automation, but possessing the best software in place can escalate your potential for development and provide your organisation with unbelievably competitive accounts payable automation benefits.


Few companies offer early payment discounts in order to encourage clients to pay their invoices timely. Settling your invoices timely decreases the amount owed and makes it simpler to reconcile accounts. Additionally, it can boost your relationships with your current vendors.


Delayed payments caused by lost or disorganised invoices can lead to supplier dissatisfaction. This is where AP automation software works like magic. Automation can lead to quick operations and strengthened relationships with the vendor.


Accounting mistakes can cost you in multiple ways. Human errors can cause overpayments, late payments, and payments involving wrong amounts. Having authentic and reliable software at your place that attests to data and recognises exceptions may be the rescue you’ve been looking for. Ensuring accurate bookkeeping, validating data, and providing reliable routing through automation can improve productivity and minimise errors.


Personalising and customising your AP process can enrich the quality of your AP department by suiting the company's workflow needs. If you accept invoices via multiple media or your invoices need to accompany specific routes, you can instruct the automated workflow to stick to the path that will retain you the most time.


If you want to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors in the market, automating your AP process is the next step you need to give your attention to. A quick return on investment and the financial usefulness of automation will provide you with enough of an edge. Additionally, time savings and error minimisation can give you immeasurable benefits.


With manual processing, it can take up to two weeks to entirely process an invoice, verify the numbers and get the required approvals and signatures. However, with the help of automated AP software, it just takes one to seven days to finish the entire process. Because you can complete the entire process faster and earlier, your faculty will have more time to focus on other significant areas of your company, thus improving your company’s efficiency.


Manual filing and heaps of paper receipts are impossible to see the whole procedure on a single page. But it opposite in the case of automation. Electronic systems and software provide a boost in visibility by demonstrating relevant data solely to the authorised parties. Besides this, it gives a higher sense of transparency through all stages of the process about when and how much to pay to vendors, how to scale operations and how to accelerate efficiency.


All the parties involved in assimilating and approving invoices, with the support of the speed and brilliance of the digital storage structure, can have concurrent access to all the necessary files. This accessibility gives way to real-time collaboration along with smooth efficiency when allocating documents, checking credentials, receiving clarification, and operating through inaccuracies. Accounts payable software for small businesses is less complicated as compared to big businesses.

Accounts Payable Job Description, Responsibilities & Skills

Account payable management is one of the most important business processes that help in managing the accounts payable obligations of the entity in an effective and timely manner. Account payable management is an important tool for the sound functioning of the business. Let us learn the importance of Accounts paying management:-

  • Responsibility

It assists the company in timely payment to vendors which ultimately results in long-term relationships with the vendor and helps in maintaining strong creditworthiness with the vendor for future business as well.

  • Ensuring Proper Flow of Business

It helps to ensure the proper flow of goods or services by the vendor for the future as well without any hurdles and also attracts discounts and benefits from the vendor.

  • Ensuring the Deadlines or Due Date

It helps to ensure the important due dates and helps the company to never come on the list of defaulters.

  • Proper Cash Flow Management

It helps to maintain proper cash inflows and outflows by timely evidencing the transaction. Account payable management helps a company to verify the authenticity of the invoice, as well as proper internal control, helps to safeguard the company from any fraudulent invoices or unfair practices or exceptional losses.

Accounts payable is the recording and processing of financial transactions relating to procurement and supplies. The roles can be specifically divided into:-

  1. Data entry role:-
    Feeding the system with invoice details accurately
  2. Payment processing role:-
    Ensuring timely payment of invoices to maintain proper creditworthiness
  3. Handling disputes and legal matters:-
    Providing timely redress of disputes if any, and helping the company maintain a healthy relationship with the vendor or creditor.
  4. Vendor or creditor maintenance:-
    Properly recording and timely recording of the vendors or creditors database.
  5. Accounts payable manager:-
    Ensuring the team is coordinating well with the vendor and proper documentation of invoices is happening for accuracy and efficiency. Accounts Payable Accounting (AP) Accounting:- When recording accounts payable entry; debit the assets and credit the accounts payable account. Assets Dr To Accounts Payable Cr. When the payment is made, Debit the accounts payable account and credit cash or bank. Accounts Payable Dr To Cash or Bank Cr. Accounts payable form an integral part of the balance sheet and are directly related to cash flows affecting the financial position of the company and the cash cycle. Like every component of the balance sheet,

Accounts payable can also be forecasted in a financial model with the below approaches:-

  • Days payable outstanding:-

DPO= Average accounts payable / Cost of goods sold or purchases X 365

  • DPO= Average Accounts payable / (Cost of sales / Number of days in accounting period)

The more data you have, the more accurate your future accounts payable forecasts will be and you will be able to identify trends. You can also improve your cash flows and maintain your desired cash flow and desired cash cycle to avoid liquidity problems or a shortage of cash.

The Bottom Line - Conclusion

Recently accounts payable process companies have started the adoption of automation. It automation, centralizes and simplifies every bit of the accounts payable process. A manual AP process can be now simplified through Invoice OCR & Accounts Payable Software.

  1. Once Invoices reach one destination - data extraction from invoices.
  2. Automatic classification involving the type of document and any supporting documents then organizes using business logic.
  3. Numbers are quickly verified against calculation.
  4. Invoices are matched with Purchase Orders.
  5. Payments are made automatically as per the organization’s policy.
  6. Easily exportable PDFs to be documented in the company’s system.


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