The accounts payable function is eager to shed its image as a tactical back-office function.

Most accounts payable professionals predict that their department will be “slightly” or “significantly” more strategic in the eyes of senior management within the next five years, per the Institute of Financial Management’s (IOFM) The Future of Accounts Payable survey conducted in 2017.

But accounts payable has a lot of work to do to make this a reality.

When asked about current senior management perceptions of accounts payable, 29 percent of accounts payable professionals surveyed by IOFM thought their senior management would say, “Accounts payable gets the work done.”  Similarly, 20 percent of accounts payable professionals believe senior management would say, “Accounts payable is efficient and accurate,” IOFM finds

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement as a trusted strategic resource.

Senior management would likely say, “Accounts payable is only on my radar when there is a problem,” according to one-quarter of the accounts payable professionals surveyed by IOFM.

Only 13 percent of those surveyed believe their senior management would say, “Accounts payable is a strategic partner that is constantly working to add value.”  Worse, three percent of respondents believe senior management would say they are not familiar with their accounts payable group.

These findings suggest that accounts payable has a long way to go in repositioning itself from a tactical back-office function into a strategic partner the organization.  Accounts payable professionals can start by unlocking the financial data trapped on invoices.  This information is crucial to helping senior management make informed financial and strategic decisions that drive corporate profitability and growth.  Accounts payable also can start paying suppliers electronically to enhance visibility into cash flow, mitigate the risks of fraud, and earn rebates that turn accounts payable into a profit center.

Without automating invoice processing and supplier payments, accounts payable will continue to be a tactical function, and miss its opportunity to become a strategic partner to the enterprise.

Ready to transform your accounts payable department?  Contact ACOM today for a free consultation.

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