4 AP Trends to Plan For

According to the Aberdeen Group, streamlined, best-in-class Accounts Payable operations will process an invoice, on average, in about one-sixth of the time, at about one-twelfth of the cost, of so-called “laggards” in a similar situation. These forward-thinking, best-in-class organizations are realizing the value that comes with automating processes as they are fully experiencing the benefits and functionality it brings to their organization, as AP departments can now allow staff to focus more on strategic activities.

One of the most significant drivers of automation in today’s business place is the fact that organizations are continually asked to “do more with less.” The economic whirlwind of the past few years has forced even the most-successful organizations in their field to revisit exactly how and where their money is spent. As a result, rather than adding headcount or additional infrastructure, more and more forward-thinking companies are curbing the negative effects of paper-centric processes by leveraging automation solutions.

Another contributing factor of automation is that AP departments are tired of juggling between multiple ERP and financial applications. This leads to delayed approvals and lends to lost or misfiled documents, while increasing the chance for late charges. This lack of a defined, streamlined business process compromises quality and increases business costs.

Listed below are a few major trends we can expect to see continue and grow in Accounts Payable into 2016:

  1. Paper remains the #1 enemy of AP departments | As stated earlier, and can’t be reinforced enough when it comes to the case for automation: paper remains public enemy #1. Paper is unwieldy and costly, and companies need to end its use in invoicing. Expect to see greater investment in solutions that help eliminate paper.
  2. The competition has turned to automation | Not only do large corporations invest in Accounts Payable automation, but now smaller organizations are also starting to see benefits in eliminating a manual Accounts Payable process. Best-in-class companies are more likely to integrate systems so they can focus on business process improvement. In the past year alone, the use of paper to trade invoices has dropped ten percent (59 percent in 2014 from 69 percent in 2013.) As more and more of your competitors adopt electronic invoicing, the more streamlined, efficient and successful their business processes and overall business become.
  3. On-premises ECM deployments are dominant | On-premises ECM deployments continue to dominate the market in comparison to cloud-based ECM services. ECM has adopted cloud-based services at a slower rate when compared to other enterprise technologies. Customers most often cite concerns about reliability, security and migration as preventing them from deploying a cloud-based ECM service. Along with this idea, there appears to be a growing demand for Accounts Payable applications to be available via mobile device primarily for invoice approvals and purchase requisitions.
  4. Employee numbers continue to decline | As stated earlier, ever since the recession, companies have been putting pressure on their Accounts Payable departments to reduce staff. As people retire, leave jobs, etc., staffing positions are not being back-filled; but this doesn’t mean the work load has diminished. Reduced employee numbers are leading more and more companies to leverage automation to handle any increase in invoices that need to be processed.

With only 46% of AP departments having an actual workflow solution in place, the majority of AP departments are still manually processing paper-based invoices. To see first-hand how you can remove reliance on manual entry in your AP operation, schedule a private, web-based demonstration here.

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