Companies today are looking for ways to improve their ability to generate, analyze, and share data across their enterprise. Better metrics not only lead to overall cost reductions, but actually increase your productivity as well. There are countless technology solutions for every area in an organization – such as CRM software to manage customer service data – but knowing which are areas to prioritize can be difficult. The Accounts Payable and Finance departments are often overlooked, but the impact of their data on an enterprise’s strategic goals can be significant. In recent years, it has become clear that the value of AP departments goes beyond its base function of simply processing payments and managing financial data.
The High Value of AP Data
The ability to consolidate, analyze, and share your AP data can lead to a dramatic enterprise-wide transformation. This is because the AP department is unique to other business areas in that it handles every transaction across the company, collecting data that spans the entire organization. This financial and AP data offers improved insights into business performance, allows companies to compare resource allocation against use, and gives staff the ability to gather accurate quotes and budgeting data from all departments.
Using AP data to target areas needing improvement, companies can create strategic goals that boost efficiencies across the enterprise. According to the Ardent Partners ePayables report, that is precisely what most companies are doing:
- 67% of users leverage AP data to improve collaboration between their finance and procurement departments
- 57% utilize it to develop better payment strategies
- 57% use it to gain a stronger understanding of cash impact
In other words, AP data carries with it the overall operational and financial standing of your company. It can help your business maintain its finances, improve collaboration between departments, and better understand resource needs.
Adopting Innovative Technology for Your Accounts Payable
Businesses can also apply the same innovative technology they use for other areas to their AP department. When applied to your AP department, these solutions can help your organization automate workflows, reduce costs, and increase visibility. By adopting technology that improve your AP processes, your company can take advantage of enhanced visibility and increased productivity while lowering overall AP costs. The result is an improved method of generating and analyzing your company’s AP data.
There are also solutions for processes that cannot bypass human interaction.
For example, you cannot automate invoice approvals. Automation helps alleviate this problem by having a solution in the form of mobile access, allowing staff to take action from anywhere via cloud computing. Between an automated invoice workflow and mobile capabilities, these innovations completely change the flow and structure of an AP department. Time previously wasted on manual processes can instead be used to work toward achieving strategic goals.
Make Investing in Accounts Payable Technology a Top Priority
Reducing costs is a priority for every department, but there has been a recent shift in focus to driving value from AP data and collaboration. In 2016, AP leaders cited their top four priorities to be:
- Lowering costs (41%)
- Improving visibility into invoice and payment data (40%)
- Improve reporting and analytics around AP (28%)
- Improve collaboration with suppliers (26%)
These numbers illustrate the importance of AP data for enterprise-wide planning purposes. With the amount of data AP departments generate, even passively, it would be wise to seek a solution that can improve AP data analytics.
Invest in AP Innovation to Modernize Your Strategic Planning
Many organizations that prioritize agility within departments overlook AP and Finance departments. The reason for this could be that historically, these business areas were seen as “backdoor” operations – tactical but not strategic. Increasing function agility, however, is another priority of AP leaders. Improved agility allows organizations to quickly meet new challenges and streamline practices, helping staff work toward company goals. Since AP data encompasses the entire organization, it is necessary for planning business strategies. This data adds value to every area of business, which is why it should be a company’s top priority to find solutions to improve its access and use.