2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results
Survey Overview
The 2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results (the “Report”) provide a comprehensive analysis of survey responses regarding the use of “electronic accounts payable,” including trends, benchmark data, and variables that factor into program success.   The survey defined Electronic Accounts Payable (EAP) as “non-plastic commercial card accounts used to pay for goods and services after an invoice has been received for those goods or services (in other words, card payment did not occur at the point or time of sale).”  The Report is based on over 1,100 responses from EAP end-users representing public and private corporations, State and Federal government agencies, Cities and Counties, Colleges and Universities, School Districts, and Not-for-Profit organizations. All corporate sizes (Fortune 500-Size, Large Market, Middle Market, and Small Market) are represented in the Report.  Thirty-two different EAP providers, all major EAP-providing brands are represented in the survey response.    

This complete report consists of the three separate reports that constitute the 2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results, including: 
  • Market Trends and Best Practices (the “Main” report)
  • Benchmark Data for EAP Use and Management 
  • The Provider’s Role in EAP Program Success 

Each of the key findings from these reports is summarized below.  

Main Report

EAP Spending Norms 
Benchmarking data within the Report covers a variety of program outputs for end-user program comparisons.  For all EAP-using programs combined, key averages are:   
  • Monthly EAP spending per organization: $3.0 million 
  • Average EAP transaction amount:  $4,754 
  • Monthly EAP spending per employee:  $316 
EAP is primarily used for goods and services which may be considered too expensive for payment with plastic purchasing cards (where, among EAP users, the average plastic transaction amount was $367 in 2017).  One-half of all respondents had used EAP to pay for a single purchase of a good or service in excess of $150,000 in the past year and one-quarter of respondents had made at least one EAP purchase in excess of $400,000.

In terms of dollars, respondents report that about 50% of EAP payments are for operating expenses (including operating goods and supplies, office equipment and supplies, and computer-related hardware and software) and about 21% for assets (primarily inventory).  The remainder of EAP payments are spread across a wide variety of services (e.g., professional services, education and training, and contractual repair and maintenance).

EAP Spending Growth
The vast majority of respondents (73%) report growth in EAP spending over the 2015-2018 time period.  Over that time frame EAP spending grew, on average, by 10.9% per year.   

Going forward, 75% of all EAP-using respondents expect increases in EAP account spending over the five-year period from 2018 to 2022. EAP spending, estimated to be $89 billion at the end of 2017, is expected to rise to $127 billion by 2022.  The major reasons for expected growth in EAP spending include increased supplier acceptance of EAP, efforts to target commodities for EAP payment, and efforts to target high-dollar transactions for EAP payment.   

EAP Market Potential 
RPMG estimates market potential for EAP to be $1.2 trillion based on estimates of the current state of adoption, use, and acceptance of EAP.  EAP is still limited in market penetration with new adopters on-boarding each year.  Current EAP-using customer estimates of their own potential for EAP spending growth are nearly 4-fold over their current spending level.  

Reported Benefits
Respondents estimate the full cost of invoice processing and payment by check to be $39.  By contrast, respondents estimate the average cost of EAP invoice payment to be $13, yielding a $26 per-transaction cost savings when EAP is used.  Further, on average, 46 days of working capital float becomes available under EAP facilitated by invoice due dates, the time gap between payment by EAP and billing from the EAP provider (average daily credit balance) and the payment grace period.  With average monthly EAP spending of $3.0 million, there is additional working capital of $4.7 million made available due to the use of EAP.  Eighty-two percent of respondents report a decrease in check writing since the adoption of EAP.

The value of EAP over other payment methods is recognized by the majority of respondents across a wide variety of payment criteria, including incentives and rebates, the ability to track supplier payment receipt, the ability to cost-effectively transmit remittance information to the supplier, the speed with which payment is transmitted, the security of payment, the ability to support both low and high volume purchase activity with suppliers, the ability to control timing of settlement, per-transaction charges, bank fees other than per-transaction charges, the ability to control spending, and minimization of errors, corrections, or rework to complete payment.  The vast majority of respondents indicate that EAP has been valuable at reducing reliance on checks, enhancing the organization’s financial position, improving organizational processes, enhancing cybersecurity, increasing spending transparency, and strengthening control over spending.  

Supplier Acceptance
Respondents indicate that in 2018 they paid 24% of their supplier base with EAP, up from 17% in 2015.  The percentage of respondents that are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with supplier acceptance of EAP has nearly doubled, growing from 24% in 2015 to 45% in 2018.  Fifty-one percent of respondents estimate that EAP spending would double if all suppliers that they desire to pay with EAP accepted payment in this manner.  EAP program performance is improved in organizations that (a) target and engage with their suppliers about the payment method, (b) incentivize suppliers to accept EAP payment (e.g., negotiate faster EAP payment timing), (c) accommodate and support suppliers (e.g., helping the supplier seek and obtain lower interchange rates for large-ticket purchases or having a clear EAP acceptance on-boarding process), (d) formalize the payment method by RFP or technological choice, and (e) press the case with suppliers by revisiting the issue of acceptance with regularity. Suppliers that do not accept EAP payment put some portion of their revenue stream at risk.  Respondents accounting for 75% of EAP spending (about $67 billion per year) report changing suppliers for not accepting EAP.  

Best Practice
The 2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results examines best practices of “high performing” EAP programs.  The Report provides unique and fresh insight into the philosophies and actions of “best practice” EAP programs, broken into three key categories: (1) growth drivers, (2) supplier relationships, and (3) aspects of organizational awareness.  

Other Areas of Interest
The 2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results provide additional details to support the topics above and address a host of other important issues, including the power of benchmarking and its impact on EAP program performance, EAP application in mobile technology and e-procurement software, the use of EAP by aggregators (e.g., travel agencies or TMCs) and internet marketplaces, the use of EAP outside of the U.S. and Canada, issues involving reconciliation and integration, data about and concerns over fraud or misuse of EAP, and the nature of ongoing challenges to EAP success.
 
Benchmark Data for EAP Use and Management 
This report presents EAP program spending and other benchmark data points for a variety of Corporate and Government and Not-for-Profit categories.  The benchmark group categories include Fortune 500-Size companies (annual revenue of $2 billion or more), “Large Market” companies (annual revenue between $500 million and $2 billion), “Middle Market” companies (annual revenue between $25 million and $500 million), and “Small Market” companies (annual revenue below $25 million).  In addition to the corporate groups, we provide benchmark data for States and State Agencies, Cities and Counties, Colleges and Universities, School Districts, and Not-for-Profit Organizations.  The Small Market companies (and governmental and not-for-profit entities with budgets below $25 million) are discussed in their own section called “Small Organizations.”

The EAP spending benchmark data points provided for each group include but are not limited to:
  • average and median monthly EAP spending,
  • average monthly spending per employee,
  • average EAP transaction amount,
  • EAP spending as a percentage of sales revenue (or budget for Government and Not-for-Profit entities), 
  • average highest dollar transaction in the past year, 
  • estimated EAP spending potential, and 
  • the percentage of transactions paid with EAP within four spending categories: (a) $2,500 or less, (b) between $2,501 and $10,000, (c) between $10,001 and $100,000, and (d) between $100,001 and $1 million.
Further, we present data related to program governance and risk management within each group.  Among other points, the report provides:
  • the types of EAP configuration used (virtual cards, single-use accounts, or BIP),
  • past and future EAP spending growth,
  • the number of good and service categories bought with EAP,
  • the average number of suppliers and percentage of the supplier base currently paid with EAP,
  • actions taken to enroll and maintain the EAP-accepting supplier base, and
  • EAP program management activities.
 
The Provider’s Role in EAP Program Success 
This report presents respondent provided data that relate to the role that providers play in EAP program success.  The major areas addressed in the report include analyses and trends associated with the importance of and customer satisfaction with:

  • the status of the economic relationship with the provider (rebates and incentives, liability protection, etc.) and its implications for program performance,
  • customer service and support (friendliness and respect shown by EAP provider support personnel, quality of help from help desk, etc.),
  • provider support in supplier enablement (work with suppliers to lower transaction costs, assistance in on-boarding suppliers to accept EAP payment, etc.),
  • data integration and reporting (the ability to integrate EAP data into organizational information systems, the ability to reconcile EAP spending to internal spending records, etc.), 
  • customer relationship management (satisfaction with Account Manager performance and its impact on the customer-provider relationship, the percentage of organizations that would recommend their current EAP provider, etc.), and
  • the intent to switch providers and reasons driving those considerations.
Obtaining a Copy
The complete set of reports from the 2018 Electronic Accounts Payable Benchmark Survey Results can be purchased below. For any questions, please contact Professor Palmer at Richard.Palmer@rpmgresearch.net .  
 



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