Five challenges for accounts payable departments

Invoicing and payment processes can be complex and time-consuming for accounts payable departments to manage, unless they implement automation technology

Alyssa Putzer
By Alyssa Putzer on 21 September 2021
Five challenges for accounts payable departments

The use of technology is surging, but there are still problems that are plaguing accounts payable (AP) teams and causing them to lose money, time and their competitive edge. This is particularly true in organisations that have not yet fully embraced the power of automation technology.

We joined forces with research and advisory firm Ardent Partners to discover which key challenges AP departments are facing so we could identify how to use automation to help mitigate these issues and enable them to become powerful, agile, savvy and competitive.

According to the AP Pulse on the Mid-Market in 2021 report, 51 per cent of the mid-market AP teams named invoice exceptions as their top challenge. Exceptions are the cause of bottlenecks and hold-ups in the AP process and can negatively affect productivity. They are also the main cause of higher processing costs and longer approval times, which cause further delays.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of respondents cited high invoice processing costs as their biggest difficulty. No one likes spending unnecessary money, especially for something as tedious as invoice processing. Manually processing paper gets expensive and is incredibly time consuming, resulting in a time and cost burden for AP departments.

Lack of invoice and payment visibility is a serious concern for around 45 per cent of AP teams. Having accurate and timely access to invoice and payment data is crucial, especially to mid-market companies that rely on cash flow from operations to fund growth. Without appropriate visibility, they cannot get a clear look at bottlenecks and liabilities to see where delays are happening and where they are missing opportunities for discounts.

Efficiency is key in business, but 41 per cent of those surveyed said that invoice and payment approvals are taking far too long. When the invoice and approval process is taking longer than it should, the company loses out on money and the AP team loses out on time and the ability to take on more pertinent projects.

Similarly, just over a quarter (28 per cent) of AP staff said that they spent too much time handling supplier enquiries and exceptions, hindering their operations. To move forward efficiently, staff cannot spend all this time tracking down phone numbers, correcting contact information and interacting with suppliers to get missing information.

AP automation solutions, like MetaViewer, can eliminate these challenges (and many others) so AP departments can be as efficient, effective and strategic as possible in today’s fast-moving world.

Alyssa Putzer is the marketing communications specialist for Metafile Information Systems  

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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