The COVID-19 pandemic proved the resiliency of people, the benefits of technology, and how a lack of technology adoption inhibits organizations, specifically AP. For companies that had not adopted accounts payable automation technology prior to the pandemic, they were definitely feeling the effects of it in the midst of it, with many caught trying to maintain business operations and provide a safe work environment for employees without the assistance of automation. According to Ardent Partners in their “The State of ePayables 2021: Operating in the New Normal” report, “The lack of core AP automation in 2020 contributed to businesses forcing AP staffers to trek into offices during the most dangerous moments of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The good news is that this encouraged many organizations to finally jump on the automation bandwagon and invest in ePayables solutions.
We have often discussed what makes AP departments “best-in-class,” but much of what traditionally has defined a “best-in-class” AP department has changed due to the pandemic. Today, we see that best-in-class AP departments are the ones utilizing and harnessing automation technology. Ardent Partners examined some of the ways the top AP departments are leveraging technology in order to become more strategic and resistant to the current crisis and future crises.
- “Best-in-Class AP groups actively leveraged eInvoicing to bypass the issues of in-person operations.” When invoicing is done using paper and manual processes, it is difficult or even impossible for employees to complete invoicing remotely. Many companies relied on in-person procedures, and when the pandemic hit those operations either had to stop or change. The workflow in an automation solution, like MetaViewer, is easily altered to accommodate new business needs. According to Ardent Partners, best-in-class AP departments are 166% more likely than all others to have automation technology in place as their primary technology, resulting in a more streamlined approval workflow, fewer exceptions (the bane of AP employees’ existence) and enhanced cash management.
- “Top-performing AP organizations are 157% more likely than all others to automate all facets of P2P.” Automation is not just about the procurement or the payment, it’s about the process as a whole. Procurement and payment go together like peanut butter and jelly, and there should be “a symbiotic relationship” between the two in order to ensure that the purchase orders and other documents align with the associated invoices in order to complete the full P2P process accurately, compliantly and realistically.
- “Electronic payments or ‘ePayments’ are 192% more likely to be used by the Best-in-Class and are a foundation of those Best-in-Class AP programs.” Automation does not just stop at procurement for top AP departments. Today’s best-in-class companies are also utilizing electronic payments in addition to things like imaging, scanning and data capture. At MetaViewer, we have partnered with payment automation providers like OnPay to provide a full-scale, end-to-end automation solution that drives efficiency and streamlines processes from start to finish.
- “Best-in-Class enterprises are nearly twice as likely to leverage business networks.” While business networks have always been important for good communication between businesses and suppliers, today they are essential for keeping processes flowing smoothly and strengthening relationships and collaboration between procurement, finance and suppliers.
If this is what the best-in-class AP departments have been doing, what are some strategies you can put in place to make this happen in your own AP department? Stay tuned for Part 2!