4 Automation Strategies to Create a Best-in-Class AP Department

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Your company's AP department is important to every aspect of your enterprise. Think about it: Without quick and accurate payment processing to vendors and service providers, your organization loses credibility, money and a competitive edge in the industry, and soon your vendors will choose to take their business elsewhere. In this day and age, each market is incredibly competitive, which means that you need to be on top of your game and keep your loyal vendors, well, loyal. While there are many departments that contribute to this, one area that could use some analysis is accounts payable automation.

According to the Ardent Partners The State of ePayables 2018 report:

“In order to effectively push accounts payable into the forefront of strategic business territory, enterprises must actively gauge, measure, and analyze their AP performance across a series of key performance indicators to use as a means to establish a performance and business impact baseline and then improve upon them.”

This means making your AP department "best-in-class." This means that it operates seamlessly, utilizes cutting-edge technology and streamlines processes. For an accounts payable department to become best-in-class, it must have the tools in place to be able to work efficiently, and analyze and update processes for ongoing growth and maximum effectiveness in order to consistently meet business goals now, and in the future.

So what does it take to bring your AP department from "good" to "best-in-class?"

  1. Automation: It's all over Twitter and we're totally on-board. Adopting ePayables can push what used to be a traditional AP department into the new age of technology. The Ardent Partners study discovered that, not surprisingly, best-in-class companies use document scanning and OCR more frequently than their competitors, keeping them ahead of the curve in their industry. Many of these companies have also turned to eInvoicing, leading to the elimination of paper and tedious manual data entry.
  2. Standardized AP processes: The idea of implementing new procedures may be exciting (and it is!), but it’s also important to take the time to standardize those new AP procedures by creating guidelines and rules for submitting, approving, processing and indexing invoices. Making sure that everyone is using the new technology in the same way and as it was intended will help keep processes consistent and efficient, while also safeguarding data and allowing managers to maintain control of procedures.
  3. Straight-through invoice processing: According to Ardent Partners, 74 percent of best-in-class companies are able to process invoices “straight-through,” meaning no manual, annoying, tedious and paper-based processing. This allows AP departments to work more efficiently with fewer bottlenecks, while also allowing managers to reallocate employees' time to more pertinent tasks that don't involve manual data entry. Sounds like a win-win to us!
  4. Implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI): Ardent Partners stated that best-in-class organizations are 43 percent more likely than other companies to implement AI into their AP processes. No, this does not mean robots, but the efficiency gains of automation are addicting and, once you’ve experienced the benefits of automation, you’ll look for more ways to improve procedures. Further investment in state-of-the-art technology makes enterprises more competitive, provides deeper insights for managers and the C-Suite, and gives AP teams the opportunity to adjust how they are managing tasks and projects for max efficiency now and in the future.

Today's best-in-class AP departments are forward-thinking and know that they must constantly adapt in order to meet the needs of the ever-changing world of financial technology. Being able to fully embrace the power of technology, especially automation, can bring the average AP department to best-in-class.

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