If you are working longer hours these days, you are not alone.
One-third of accounts payable professionals are working longer hours since the onset of COVID-19.
That is according to a survey conducted during a recent Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) virtual town meeting, “Where AP Goes from Here,” sponsored in part by IPS.
Click here to access an on-demand recording of the virtual town hall meeting.
Eight percent of accounts payable professionals are working an additional two hours or more per day, which is sobering when you consider the long days most payables teams logged before the pandemic.
Despite these long hours, 59 percent of the attendees of the virtual town hall meeting admit that their department missed at least one invoice due date because of operational issues during the pandemic.
The cause of these long workdays can be traced to the way that most accounts payable departments process their invoices. Ninety percent of accounts payable departments are now working remotely, at least in part. Fifty-seven percent of accounts payable departments are entirely working remotely.
Yet six percent of the attendees to the IOFM virtual town hall meeting say their accounts payable department operates in a completely manual environment. Thirty-three percent say the way their departments process invoices is not very automated. And one-third of the attendees say their accounts payable department relies on an on-premise solution for processing its invoices.
Manual processes, on-premise and poorly engineered cloud solutions are not conducive to Work from Home arrangements.
In most businesses, invoices can be received in paper or electronic format by anyone, anywhere in the organization, including a branch office, centralized mailroom, finance department or a purchaser. The invoices are then reviewed, keyed, and matched with a purchase order. Inevitable keying errors must be corrected. Unmatched invoices are forwarded (in the past, via inter-office mail) for approval and general ledger coding. Much of the invoice approval process resides in the heads of seasoned, trusted employees who can go on vacation, go on maternity leave, quit, become sick, significantly delaying workflows. Any exceptions are chased through the organization and may result in back-and-forth e-mails and phone calls with suppliers. Once invoices are approved, invoice data is keyed into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform or other line of business system, and the invoice is scheduled for payment and physically filed. Supplier inquiries and management and audit requests for reports and access to documents typically require manual document retrieval.
It is hard to adapt these processes to today’s new normal for organizations with no automation, on-premise solutions, or poorly engineered cloud solutions. No wonder that accounts payable professionals are working longer hours.
Ominously, the uncertain timeline for completely reopening offices – and the possibility that some organizations may never bring all their employees back to the office full-time – means that accounts payable teams could be facing long workdays for the foreseeable future, if they do not take action.
The right cloud solution helps you work smarter, not longer
Working remotely does not have to mean working longer.
On-premise, manual and poorly engineered cloud-based accounts payable solutions did not eliminate the challenges that proved to be critical in Working from Home:
- Retrieval and aggregation of all paper and electronic invoices on a single platform
- Invoice data capture and validation with guaranteed 99.95 percent accuracy
- Rules-based routing of invoices with administrative tracking and control
- Online exceptions resolution tools that eliminate back-and-forth e-mails and phone calls
- Self-service supplier access to the status of invoices
- Instant retrieval of images and data for accounts payable documents, from anywhere
COVID-19 overwhelmingly proved the value of the right cloud-based accounts payable transformation solution and provided operations a seamless Work from Home experience and managers with real-time visibility into the status of invoices and KPIs. And notifications, alerts and configurable escalation procedures keep invoice approvals moving, even when purchasers are working remotely.
All this frees your accounts payable staff to focus more time on the things that matter most.