Circulus was released to give SMBs the tools they need to improve the accounts payable process. The company aims to strike a balance between powerful automation and affordability.
As an accounts payable solution, it seems that the makers of Circulus have provided users with a simple solution that allows them to save time on accounts payable activities.
Still, if you’re a QuickBooks user and you want to upgrade your AP process, Circulus might be worth a try. Our first look at the tool revealed that you’re getting a straightforward solution perfect for streamlining bill pay and more.
What is Circulus?
Circulus has set out to redefine corporate accounts payable. The platform is a strategic document management and data extraction solution that aims to help users reduce operating costs and save time.
The Circulus AP solution simplifies the bill pay process, provides flexible workflows, and reporting features that offer the visibility the department needs to measure success.
Long story short, Circulus’ AP solution is a simple, AP add-on that connects to your existing accounting software.
The suite includes machine learning, flexible workflows, approvals, and more—all in one place. Below, we’ll take a look at the platform and how it stands to help businesses overcome AP challenges.
The Circulus design is quite pleasing. Everything is presented clearly, in bold, bright text with plenty of white space. Reports and easy to read and the navigation is simple and straightforward.
Because this program only accounts for AP activity, there aren’t all that many places to go within the system. This makes it easy to get all of the necessary information–from pending payments to outstanding invoices, without all the noise from your main accounting platform.
Centralized System for AP
Circulus provides a single source for all things accounts payable. This system allows you to set up workflows, pay your bills, and sync data with accounting software.
The idea is, you’re not switching between multiple accounts to check statuses or make payments. Instead, credit card activity, banking bill pay, and more are all in the same AP hub. While you won’t be able to perform non-AP duties in Circulus, all activity syncs to QuickBooks. This way, the end to end accounting process is made much simpler than it would be using a generic accounting tool.
Circulus combats the visibility issues many AP teams face on a regular basis, Lost invoices, unanswered questions, duplicate transactions, and so on.
Here, invoices, expense reports, and supporting documents can be accessed by all relevant team members. The cloud-hosted technology means users can stay updated no matter where they are.
What’s more, you can set up role-based dashboards. So, your approvers, orderers, and accounting team each have different permissions. View current and past payables records, look at account details, and vendor profiles. Finally, create AP reports that help you understand your cash flow.
The Circulus platform provides security features to customers. Role-based security, automated business rules, audit trails, and card and account masking protect your business from bad actors and data breaches.
AP Reporting Suite
The reporting suite gives users a chance to understand your cash flow. View payment history, vendor balances, outstanding payments, and more. Reports promote greater visibility—and will allow AP to take advantage of early pay discounts and avoid late fees.
Flexible AP Workflow
Customize workflows according to preference. You’ll have the option to create simple enter and pay workflows or something a bit more complicated.
At the more complex end of the spectrum, you can set tightly controlled review and approval processes. Route purchase orders and pending invoices to approvers, who will receive notifications as they come through.
Billing Data Entry
This feature allows you to save time—and paper by transferring bill data into streamlined cloud-based documents.
Schedule bills and choose to pay via check or ACH. Payments are executed and automatically updated in QuickBooks.
Users will have access to status reports that reveal which payments are outstanding and which ones you’ve processed.
Circulus keeps a detailed audit trail of all billing activity, so you’ll be able to look back and view the details of every transaction. The benefit here is, there’s no more searching through paper records or pouring through bank statements. Circulus assigns each line item a category, documents the transaction, and syncs with QB.
Circulus allows you to manage vendors from within the system. You’ll be able to save contact information, keep records on file, and view upcoming payments.
You’ll also be able to pay them with a check or via ACH. Current customers report that the ACH process is super easy— you can send payments in a matter of clicks. Checks, on the other hand, require an extra step. You’ll need to manually mark items as paid if you cut a check, which may be annoying if you pay for most invoices with a check.
That said, ACH rates are considerably lower than paying by check, so you might want to consider going paperless if you choose to use this tool.
Easy Invoice Uploads
Upload your invoices directly to the Circulus platform, email them to the platform, or sync them from QuickBooks. You can also take a picture from your phone and upload that way. In any case, adding invoices is easy. As you can see below, you can even assign uploads a category—bill, vendor credit, or expense.
Circulus supports integration with QuickBooks—both the desktop and online versions. Integrations span 14 data points, and the platforms sync up on a daily basis, so records are consistent across both platforms.
Unfortunately, Circulus doesn’t integrate with other platforms like Xero or Sage Intacct, so if you’re using one of these, Circulus won’t seamlessly plug into your existing setup.
Some customers mentioned that the integration with QuickBooks Online could have been better. The sync doesn’t happen in real-time. Instead, the two programs connect on a daily basis.
That said, the integration between the two programs is largely seen in a positive light. Users were pleased with the fact that Circulus eliminated much of the data entry associated with AP.
Pricing comes in three different tiers—for the small business accounts payable solution. Enterprise AP comes with more features and advanced AI capabilities, but pricing is only available on request.
This plan is best suited for super small companies. You’ll get access for one user, and the platform allows for a simple enter-and-pay process. This plan doesn’t come with the workflow feature, as likely you won’t have many approval steps with minimal employees.
We’re not sure there’s much of a benefit to adding this one-person plan to an existing accounting platform. At such a low capacity, there’s not much need for an accounts payable department or a separate tool. Still, whether it’s worth it is going to come down to whether you’re wasting a lot of time on bill pay or dealing with vendors.
At this level, you’ll now have access for three users, and you’ll be able to add more complex approval processes into the mix.
For $99.99, your Circulus account supports unlimited users. This option is great for mid-sized companies with multiple user types and a system for approvals.
The accountant package comes with unlimited users and is geared toward larger teams with a dedicated accountant.
The accountant plan is a deal offered to accountant partners, allowing you to pay your payables at a reduced rate—so this might be a good option if you’ve got a real-deal accountant on your team or you are one yourself.
This plan comes with an accountant portal that allows you to manage your Circulus clients—give them access to the backend or include them in the approval workflow if it makes sense.
So, there is a monthly fee based on the number of users, as well as per transaction fees for each ACH payment or check.
Here’s the breakdown.
- ACH payments are $0.49 each, while express payments will run you $8.99 a piece.
- Checks are $1.49 each, and placing a rush on a check is $23.99.
- Full-service data entry is $0.99 per bill.
The app comes with a 30-day free trial, and your first 30 payments are free. So, you’ll get a chance to try it out if you’re not fully committed to the idea just yet.
Circulus is cloud-based, and as such, will work with any device that connects to the web.
Circulus works with the QuickBooks Online program, as well as the desktop version of the tool. If you’re using the desktop version, you’ll need to use the QuickBooks connector to integrate with your Circulus account. If you need help, someone from the Circulus team can help you get started.
The small business plan only connects to QuickBooks, but the Enterprise plan works with leading ERP systems. We’re not sure which platforms specifically work with the system, so you’ll need to reach out to learn more.
This platform supports customers through a variety of video tutorials, guides, and a personalized onboarding session.
They also make a point of noting that there are real people on hand to help you out. In-app chat, email, and phone support are available to all customers. It’s not some add-on feature you have to pay for.
Here’s a look at some of the on-site resources Circulus provides.
Circulus blogs almost exclusively about AP and technology. The articles span a range of industries, demonstrating how hospitality, tech, and entertainment teams use the platform.
Most guides come in the form of a downloadable ebook. Some are more helpful than others. For example, the overview was a powerpoint presentation with little information. We downloaded the resource to see if it might come with more details about how the tool worked. Unfortunately, it was a powerpoint of the features description straight from the website.
Want to learn more about the practical applications of Circulus? Scroll through the selection of case studies to see how companies across sectors are using the platform to streamline accounts payable.
Would We Recommend Circulus?
Overall, Circulus looks like it’s a decent accounts payable solution. There’s nothing much to complain about. The platform handles bill pay and makes it easy to enter invoices and pay them on time. In all, there’s nothing super revolutionary at play, but small businesses are bound to see the value in this tool.
Circulus provides good customer service and gives users a rundown on how the tool works. While we wish the site had a few more resources for actually using the platform, there are plenty of ways to get in contact with a rep should you need assistance.
We’re not really sure why Circulus has opted to limit the SMB level integrations to QuickBooks only. While Quickbooks is surely one of the most popular accounting solutions, they’ve left off a huge selection of users who may benefit from the tool, if only they weren’t using Sage or Xero.
Finally, we’re not so sure that Circulus is worthwhile at the entry-level plan. Assuming this plan caters to one or two person operations, the chances that a tiny company would need a separate accounts payable solution seem pretty slim.
Still, every company is different.
If you need a straightforward AP solution that plugs right into QB, give this program a shot. You can try it for 30 days before committing anyway.