What are the main problems and challenges facing accounts payable? According to a recent report by Ardent Partners entitled “ePayables 2015: Higher Ground,” most organizations cited issues like exceptions, lack of matching information, lack of visibility into data and high invoice processing costs as just a few of the biggest challenges they are facing.
All of these issues can be traced back to one thing: paper. An automated process can reduce those exceptions, eliminate or call to attention the lack of matching information, give greater visibility into the whole process and reduce the high costs associated with processing paper invoices and payments.
But if automating eliminates paper and all of the challenges that come along with it, then what is the AP department left to do?
It’s a question we’re often asked by AP professionals themselves, worried that automating the AP process might make them less valuable to their organizations. The opposite is true: after automating, the AP team is actually more valuable.
In the aforementioned report, Ardent Partners proposes that as more companies choose to automate they will put themselves in a position to employ a “broader, more strategic objective for the accounts payable function.” They foresee AP departments playing a larger role in data, analytics and intelligence, which they acknowledge is “a sharp shift away from the cost reduction focus of years past.”
As it should be. If costs are reduced so dramatically through automation, the AP department is free to take on new responsibilities. Now, the report states, the AP team can move from a back-office role to a more strategic one by: