For several years, the average business organization was focused on the rote day-to-day manual activities of the accounts payable department as a way to define its value. Departments whose manual activities from purchase order matching to invoice payment ran smoothly were considered to be successful. Efficiency was measured by how well these tasks were carried out.

Today a seismic change is occurring in the accounts payable world, and technological advances are the primary driver. The result of this change is that businesses are learning a new way to define the value of accounts payable. Some of these changes and their influence on business perception are discussed by Andrew Bartolini and Matthew Delman in their article “ePayables 2016: Technology Innovations that Can Change the Face of AP.”

The article is a sneak peek into an extensive 45-page report titled “ePayables 2016: Eyes on the Prize”, which details and analyzes the results of surveys taken of 184 best-in-class firms.

Significant Changes to Accounts Payable

Accounts payable automation is streamlining the functions of AP, making it possible for the AP department to spend less time doing normal day-to-day functions and more quality time interacting with business partners within the firm, providing information and resources that fit in with the overall company strategy and direction.

As a result, accounts payable is becoming a primary player to influence the operational and financial decisions that are made in the modern company. Andrew Bartolini and Matthew Delman pinpoint three specific advances in modern technology that they believe are literal game-changers, destined to revolutionize accounts payable in the average business.

Touchless Technology

It is a well-established fact that the more hands that input into the normal processes of accounts payable, the more errors that will occur. More errors necessitate more corrections, slowing down invoice processing and elevating cost. Modern AP automation has made touchless technology possible. All of the functions of accounts payable can now be done electronically. Validation of invoices is virtually touch-free, and exceptions are significantly minimized.

Data Extraction and Analysis

By means of electronic invoicing, extensive data is recorded in real time and archived electronically. This data is becoming increasingly valuable to help a business make strategic decisions that can affect its bottom line. A vendor portal is one of the tools included in automated AP that can help the business monitor e-invoicing, payments and dynamic discounting. By the use of this tool, recurring problems can be easily spotlighted and dealt with, for greater operational efficiency. The archived information can also be shared with business partners to help an organization forecast future cost more effectively.

Research conducted by Ardent Partners shows that best-in-class businesses who use electronic invoicing can process a single invoice in an average of 3.9 days, as opposed to 17.1 days average for all others. Quick turnover of invoices is proving to be a money saver for these businesses.

Mobile Invoice Approval

Mobile technology is making this process even easier. E-invoicing accounts for most invoice approval, but any approval that cannot be done electronically can be handled virtually, from almost any location in the world. Busy executives can access accounts payable data from the convenience of their mobile devise. Approval is in the moment, rather than delayed.

These are only three of the technological advances that are proving to be game-changers for accounts payable. The expected end result will be that AP will be positioned in a more primary place in the modern company, as a centralized hub of information, working next to other departments in helping to influence corporate decisions and strategy.

Referenced Sources:

Andrew Bartolini and Matthew Delman: “ePayables 2016: Technology Innovations that Can Change the Face of AP”: http://payablesplace.ardentpartners.com: August 17, 2016

Andrew Bartolini and Matthew Delman: “ePayables 2016: Eyes on the Prize”: downloadable from http://payablesplace.ardentpartners.com

Research results quoted from webinar video: “ePayables 2016: Eyes on the Prize”: www.youtube.com: published by Ardent Partners August 8, 2016