The question of whether automation ought to be used in the accounts payable department is no longer a relevant one. So many other business functions are now being automated that accounts payable is quickly following suit. The larger question is one of human adaptation: how to manage the newly automated accounts payable department so that it works most effectively to achieve organizational goals. That could require a change in management styles.
The Millennial Challenge
It is worth noting that the work force is gradually changing to workers who are not only comfortable with computerized functions, but who are continually incorporating them into their daily lives. The average millennial prefers not to write paper checks, but is more comfortable with the rapid method of electronic payment. He or she is more likely to own an electronic bank account than one at a physical address, shedding the discomfort that many older people feel with cloud-based solutions in favor of easier payment methods that fit better with an on-the-go lifestyle. The average accounts payable department must adapt to acquire this mindset.
A Team-Based Approach
Accounts payable no longer operates as an independent engine on the corporate train. Electronic invoicing has freed the department from its former mundanity, allowing it to find a new place in corporate decision-making. To do this most effectively, accounts payable must be willing to work with other departments such as procurement in achieving corporate goals.
AP automation allows interdepartmental viewing of accounts payable processes, which in turn encourages input and communication within departmental levels. Sharing the corporate vision and embracing new ideas for specific strategies to achieve them will keep the AP department moving forward instead of impeding progress.
Greater flexibility of workflow may be needed to do this most effectively. For instance, since more department leaders and employees are working remotely, interdepartmental meetings may need to be arranged electronically from various locations. Fortunately, accounts payable automation is cloud-based so that department leaders can keep an eye on daily activities from any location.
Keener Training of Automated Solutions
Staying abreast of innovations in E-invoicing will require continual retraining of the newest tools available in the accounts payable toolbox. Tools such as dynamic discounting will need to be trained not only in a general way, but with customization toward the specific goals of the business. Most providers of electronic solutions can assist with this training. They can also suggest ways to integrate newer solutions with methods already in use.
Traditional ideas about the way to run an accounts payable department must be discarded in favor of new approaches that allow greater creativity, flexibility, and shared responsibility. As electronic invoicing is being adapted to meet new business challenges, management styles will have to adapt along with it.