It's time to give Thanks!
Perhaps it’s just the sentimentality of the season, but it seems appropriate to write about the macro-changes taking place in the back office environment in most modern-countries. Technological advances are creating upheaval to traditional ways of doing business and practices that have been in place for decades are finally beginning to be transformed and re-thought. With that said, I wanted to take a few paragraphs to relate four key things that any astute Accounts Payable Manager, Finance Director, or Shared Services leader. As much as most-folks are reticent to change, opportunities to transform process will create unparalleled value for organizations and afford leaders the opportunity to leave an indelible footprint upon the companies and people they serve.
The Short List
Abundant Automation Technology – Automation, and specifically Accounts Payable automation, solutions abound today. The key distinction among them can be difficult to discern given that many technologies are similar in nature, but the fundamentals include being able to turn paper based documents to data and then use the data to advance the process, coupled with the business rules of any given organization to reduce data entry and manual labor hours associated with the process. Beyond traditional AP automation, other technologies like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and E-Invoicing (Procure-to-Pay/P2P) solutions are faring well, and the wholesale picture is that the technologies exist, whichever you prefer, to take you out of the stone ages and into the 21st century.
Executive Openness – Not sure if this is an actual term, but the days of ivory tower leadership structures are long-gone. Sure, they may still exist in various silos or in environments that function like glorified old-boys clubs, but more often than not there has been a progression to a more inclusive approach. One that garners feedback and seeks out ways of doing things in the best possible way, not just one that soothes egos and appeases agendas. In trying times, if you can prove out a business case for improvement and the cost and time investment required to deploy a new process or technology isn’t a show-stopper, then in most cases, it’s a green light to kick the tires and light the fires (thank you Top Gun for informing the common vernacular).
Transactional Licensing – Dove-tailing with my last point is the fundamental transformation for the solutions marketplace. Riding the momentum of cloud-delivery, the option to engage a pay for usage model, on a dynamic basis is throwing down the gauntlet for suppliers of traditional technology solutions. Consider the macro-shifts going on corporate e-mail communications technology. Many leading companies in the world are jumping on the Gmail bandwagon, because of it’s availability, scalability, and to the point, it’s affordability. The beauty of transactional models means the HUGE added benefit of minimal cost to entry for companies investigating improvement. Because of this, the playing field is being effectively leveled and many small and mid sized business are actively getting in the game so to speak from an Accounts Payable automation perspective.
Information Availability – Not really so much in the vein of Big Data per se, but just in the copious amount of resources available to leaders who are earnest about fundamentally improving their metrics. Best Practices and key insights have never been more readily available. There really isn’t a good excuse for not seeking these items out and at least examining your process periodically to see how it holds up to other leading and innovative organizations. There’s a lot to be learned and there are a bevy of trade organizations that make it available to include IOMA, Paystream Advisors, Aberdeen, & The Accounts Payable Network among others.
The common thread across all of these categories is that there is a massive opportunity to fundamentally transform/improve the back office burden that is the Accounts Payable process. So, this Thankgiving, be grateful that there are some awesome tools available to help you get better in your AP process. For additional resources in that regard, check out this info here!