billFLO focuses on eliminating invoicing friction for SMBs. We work with the likes of Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Less Accounting, Harvest and Blinksale to enable users to send and receive machine readable invoices straight into their accounting system.
At the time of my review, I was a little negative about the concept for two reasons;
- I firmly believe in open standards and open data. Any time a third party tool is required just to make two offerings “talk” to each other I get a little antsy
- At it’s launch, billFLO required its users to go to the billFLO website to authorize invoices, while I understand the time savings to be made from eliminating manual entry of data, having to visit a third party site to allow importation just kind of rankles with me. As I said at the time;
I’d prefer to see billFLO automated so that users didn’t need to take an intermediate step and manually click on import to get invoices into their own system – ideally once a vendor has been “approved”, their invoices would come through automatically every time.
Well it seems Ian Sweeney, CEO of Anoowa, the parent company behind billFLO, was listening. billFLO is today releasing its seller API which allows any accounting system to quickly use billFLO’s invoicing functionality. By utilizing the billFLO API, any accounting system can exchange invoices seamlessly with other systems utilizing billFLO. Well kind of seamlessly - unfortunately for my “low touch” desires, the API is seamless on the send side only. The reason being that accounting systems don’t have the UI to manage the importing process. ERP systems on the other hand tend to have this ability along with workflow for approvals etc.
Currently all the billFLO services are free to use, be that sending billFLO invoices (from billFLO seller or via the billFLO seller API) or managing and importing billFLO invoices with billFLO buyer. billFLO tell me that they do plan to introduce premium services for the billFLO buyer (aka Accounts Payable users) in the future.
As Ian is so keen to point out, around 20 billion paper invoices are exchanged every year and, based on average statistics, that amounts to six hours manual entry for a small business receiving 100 paper bills a month. billFLO not only saves time, but does so in a way that reduces the chances for operator error. A screencast showing the functionality is below;