AP’s Plan for 2019: Boost the Insights, Lose the Paper

July 30, 2019 Bob Cohen

[Editor’s Note: You can download The State of ePayables 2019: Driving Value in the Age of Intelligence Report by clicking here.]

A modern AP operation can differentiate itself from historical iterations by executing a multifaceted plan for the future that is dependent on solving tactical requirements and challenges while also enhancing its big data opportunity. As shown in the figure below, many AP teams possess a pointed plan-of-attack for 2019 (and beyond): work to thrive in the Age of Intelligence and confront the problems of the past.

The improvement of AP’s reporting and analytics (48%) represents the distinct view that there are real opportunities to be had in the Age of Intelligence. Today’s businesses are fueled by “outcomes” and the means of which to predict those outcomes based on real-time intelligence. The AP function sits in an interesting position in relation to its fellow stakeholders, and it can be an active participant in the development of cash management and spend management strategies via its data and insights. The plan to prioritize this aspect of an AP unit indicates that many AP leaders see the path forward as one built on an intelligence-led plan that harnesses the value of its data for the good of the greater enterprise.

stacks of invoices and paper payments on a desk in AP

AP’s Top Priorities for 2019

There is literally almost nothing that can be said about the eradication of paper (47%) that we have not previously written about in Ardent Partners’ thirteen previous edition of the annual “State of ePayables” report. Accounts Payable is one of the few functions within the modern business that teeters on the edge of automation and manual-led processes, with some enterprises choosing an archaic approach that unfortunately has been the function’s baseline for decades. In today’s age of digitization and on-demand insights, paper has no place. While this priority may seem like a consistent challenge for the AP professional, it should be perceived as more of a quest than a lone, single-year objective. Paper invoices and checks will always be a problem that needs to be addressed in order for any AP team to realize its true potential, and, more importantly, optimize its value.

The Game Plan

Considering the challenges faced by today’s AP organizations, it is clear that a smart “game plan” for the next twelve months revolves around two inextricably linked themes:

  1. Solve most, if not all, of the tactical and manual-based issues that have plagued the function for decades, then…
  2. Develop and build an “intelligent” function that uses its evolving business perception to engage more stakeholders, gain greater investment, and support better business outcomes through intelligence-based insights.

An intelligent AP operation cannot exist where the staff are processing paper and performing predominantly manual-based activities. As AP teams head into a new decade, building on the hard-earned position as a valuable member of the team, they should continue to strive for greater process optimization and the attainment and delivery of real-time, intelligence-fueled insights. You can download the State of ePayables 2019 Report by clicking here.

Nvoicepay syndicates thought leadership content from our partners. This article originally appeared on Ardent Partners blog.

About the Author

Bob Cohen is Vice President of Marketing and Research Director for Ardent Partners, an advisory and research firm focused on defining, advancing, and promoting the supply management strategies, processes, and technologies that drive business value and accelerate organizational transformation within the enterprise.

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