[Editor’s Note: Today is the last day you will be able to download Ardent Partners’ annual AP-themed report, The State of ePayables 2017: The Convergence of Cash, Suppliers, and Intelligence. Download the report before it’s gone!]
By now, we’ve already discussed the stats:
- 56% of organizations polled during our annual survey perceive the accounts payable (AP) function as either “very” or “exceptionally” valuable to organizational operations. (Much higher than in years past but still a long way to go.)
- In 2017, the average enterprise still receives 56% of their invoices manually
- 79% of Best-in-Class AP teams have document imaging and scanning tools
- 88% of Best-in-Class AP teams have standardized their processes enterprise-wide.
These statistics are telling in that they show how far the AP team has come, and how far they still have to go. For many years, AP was relegated to the back office amid reams of paper invoices. But the way enterprises do business has changed significantly over the past 15 years, and these shifts – in communication technologies, in business-to-business (B2B) commerce, and in financial tools, among others – have impacted few departments more completely than accounts payable. That was not always the case…. Historically, AP was seen as a “back-office” function within the enterprise, while its functional partner, procurement, has been more successful in the battle for strategic prominence. And, while it has taken a long time (since the early 2000s), more executives have started to take a hard look at all parts of their enterprise’s operations, including AP.
The AP function has risen in stature, prominence, and impact within the enterprise over the past few years, but the larger opportunities for value creation still lay ahead for most groups. And, while finance and AP leaders understand that the AP function sits at the convergence point for cash management, supplier management, and enterprise visibility/intelligence, most other executives do not. That may soon change as the overarching trend of business convergence is forcing most businesses to challenge legacy views and approaches. Business convergence may become the catalyst needed to ultimately propel AP forward over the next few years.
The responsibilities of the typical AP department in 2017 continue to expand and evolve, mirroring the broader convergence of processes and functions occurring in business today. As more responsibility converges under the AP operation, the function gains the opportunity to broaden its influence and make a larger impact. AP and other finance leaders of all stripes (and maturities) have immediate opportunities to improve operations within their own departments. As such, they must balance the business’s need for agility, collaboration, and innovation with the discipline and focus required to extract more value from the function by stretching the limits of their organizations and positioning it for ultimate success.
Don’t miss your final opportunity to download the 2017 edition of Ardent’s annual State of ePayables: The Convergence of Cash, Suppliers, and Intelligence research report by clicking here.