It is taking longer to process invoices with employees working from home.
One-third of accounts payable professionals are working longer days, according to the results of a poll conducted during a virtual town hall meeting held by the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM). In fact, eight percent of accounts payable professionals are working an additional two hours per day.
While longer hours may be unavoidable as departments adapt to remote working arrangements, accounts payable and other finance and accounting functions should be striving to work faster.
That is according to new research from McKinsey.
The overriding goal of senior executives is to increase the speed at which they adjust strategic direction, make and implement tactical decisions, and deploy resources, McKinsey says.
Speed is a bigger concern to senior executives than hot-button objectives such as reducing operational costs, increasing productivity, and engaging more effectively with customers.
Why the fixation with speed?
For starters, fast organizations outperform their competitors by a wide variety of measures.
But swift decision-making also is a necessity as businesses navigate a volatile economy, fast changing market conditions, industries disrupted by the new reality, and global pressures.
Despite speed’s importance, antiquated approaches to accounts payable make it hard to come by.
Many accounts payable departments rely on spreadsheets for financial reporting. Some lean heavily on their IT departments to program reports generated by the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. Others require staff to manually piece together data from multiple systems.
Making matters worse, the manual and semi-automated approaches that most payables departments use to receive, process, and post invoices frequently result in erroneous or missing information, poorly organized data, information latency, and fragmented systems. Not surprisingly, data siloes are a big problem in many accounts payable departments. All this makes it hard for senior management to access the variables they need to make informed decisions, much less, fast ones.
None of these challenges is new, but remote working is exposing and exacerbating them.
Slow decision-making can negatively impact profitability, operational resilience, organizational health, and growth – all the things that businesses will need to begin their comeback.
Accelerating decision-making when staff work from home will require large-scale change.
Reinventing AP for speed
Accounts payable must automate its processes to develop speed.
That is where cloud-based accounts payable automation solutions come in. No matter where staff work, automated accounts payable solutions eliminate the friction that stymies decision-making:
- Digital mailrooms reduce the time that invoice data remains stuck in invoices, e-mail boxes, portals, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) landing sites, and on fax machines
- Intelligent data capture speeds the capture, validation, and matching of invoice data so critical information can be accessible and delivered downstream faster
- Digital workflows keep processes and cashflow moving
- Exceptions management eliminates back-and-forth calls to chase down information
- Real-time visibility into invoice status drives productivity when staff work from home
- Analytics put smart cash and spend insights at the fingertips of those who need them
- Performance monitoring builds organizational speed, even as staff work remotely
- An online portal offers suppliers anytime, anywhere access to statuses and historical data
- Supplier management helps businesses rationalize the companies they do business with
Faced with the need to roll out technologies that enable employees to work remotely, more accounts payable departments are taking the opportunity to accelerate the capture and delivery of information as well. With technologies such as intelligent data capture, dynamic workflows, and advanced analytics, a department can speed the delivery of information to downstream systems and processes.
In addition, accounts payable automation enables stakeholders to collaborate more.
More than one-quarter of execs surveyed by McKinsey cite efficient decision making as a top way to accomplish things more quickly. Digitization makes this possible, no matter where staff work.
As remote workers settle into an operational rhythm, accounts payable departments must figure how to gain speed so good decisions can be made more quickly and collaboration can be increased.
Accounts payable automation solutions can make this happen.
If your department is ready to build speed into its processes, IPS wants to speak with you.
Contact us to arrange a no-obligation product demonstration with one of our experts!