Insights for Procure-to-Pay and Finance Leaders

Hey accounts payable: the future is now

Technology like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, blockchain, and machine learning are empowering modern enterprises to use their Accounts Payable department as strategic players. In fact, in their recent survey, Ardent Partners says that over half of businesses now see Accounts Payable as either exceptionally or very valuable to their business. Best-in-class accounts payable organizations are already using the automation to their advantage, and are planning for new ways to automate to generate value in the future. But of course, many accounts payable departments still struggle with outdated modes of doing business.

The 13th annual “State of ePayables” report from Ardent Partners gives an industry-wide view into the trends and perceptions in the world of AP. Their report tells the story of the past, present, and future of accounts payable. Take a look at some of their findings.

The way it’s always been: top challenges for accounts payable functions

For anyone who’s worked in Accounts Payable, this chart really isn’t all that surprising: it’s been this way forever. For over 200 professionals interviewed, the top challenges vary by only 8 percentage points, with “high percentage of exceptions” ranking the highest at 41 percent and “lack of visibility into invoice and payment data” sitting at 33 percent. These have been the pain points for AP systems for years on end. But the good news is, we’re finally starting to see answers to these problems with new innovations.

Present hope: measures necessary for accounts payable success

It used to be that digitization was the prize at the end of the race. But it’s just the start. A staggering 67 percent of AP departments agree: “‘Smarter’ systems that drive more efficiencies” are necessary for success. This clearly relates to the perceived top challenges for AP functions. If you need to solve the issues facing your AP department, then it will take more than just digitizing your process. You need to invest in a platform solution that will solve for those challenges. A solution that provides a suite of tools to make your AP department successful. The best-in-class take advantage of new technology to gain a clear advantage over their competitors.

The future is now: how all-stars of accounts payable surpass their competitors

Best-in-class teams are taking advantage of the new technology to gain impressive savings. Automated AP departments are head-and-shoulders above departments still laboring with a majority of analog invoicing. These stats can be intimidating if you’re in the “all others” bucket. But the best-in-class organizations don’t have some kind of special magic. What they have is an end-to-end solution for payables that gives them total visibility into invoice and payment data. Getting a best-in-class system in place probably wasn’t easy: as Ardent Partners says, “Transforming an AP operation takes a commitment of time, energy, and resources…” A lot of work and research needs to go into deciding how to best leverage new technologies and options to make your AP department perform best. But when you’ve got a plan, “Ardent Partners research shows that, if done well, it is a worthwhile investment that can deliver long-term advantages.”

Taking the Next Step

We’re at an interesting moment for accounts payable: mindsets have changed just enough to implement new technology, but still has a foot rooted firmly in the past of paper analog processes. Taking the next step into the future doesn’t mean you’ll be years ahead of the game, it means you’ll be moving forward with the rest of the industry: a necessary step to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

Want to learn more about how to stay competitive in today’s environment of digital transformation? Ardent Partners is hosting a webinar on how you can increase intelligence with smarter platforms

Get the report: The State of ePayables 2018: The Future of AP is Now