The value of accounts payable automation

The value of accounts payable automation

AP departments should invest in automation software to maintain business continuity

Elly Yates-Roberts |

It’s safe to say that 2020 has not turned out the way anyone expected. Both individuals and businesses have suffered in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Ardent Partners’ 2020 State of ePayables report, the pandemic has physically, mentally and financially disrupted businesses and how they function. Consequently, accounts payable (AP) teams have had to become more strategic in how they address both short-term and long-term needs. To do this, many have established a three-phase plan: ensure continuity, build resilience and support recovery. 

The first step in surviving and recovering from the pandemic is to make sure that the company can maintain business operations. Cash management is more important than ever, so Ardent Partners recommends that AP managers have a clear line of communication with the chief financial officer and other financial leaders to fully understand their organisation’s current cash management plan. This means the AP team must be able to provide accurate and real-time data to financial decision makers, which can be achieved most effectively with paperless automation software. 

Once a business is free of disruptions, its strategy can be adapted to enable it to respond to the crisis and plan for the longer term. Teams will be reviewing contracts and renegotiating with their supply base to build on their emergency plan. Meanwhile, the AP team will need to ensure that any changes to payment terms are captured, mapped to the proper systems, and followed according to the new procedures. This may mean a workflow change in the company’s AP automation solution, or an expansion of its current automation solution.

During a crisis, one key factor that will support recovery is investing in digitisation. AP automation technology provides fast returns, which is crucial during times of instability and is a great kick-starter for bigger and broader digitisation efforts. In fact, 20 per cent of AP leaders have stated that the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to greater investment in e-payables solutions. Investing in value-added solutions such as AP automation is critical to success during this phase.

AP teams are rising to the challenge during this difficult time. By implementing new strategies and tools, they can help their organisations to maintain business continuity, build resilience and come out the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever and ready for the future. 

Alyssa Putzer is the marketing communications specialist for Metafile Information Systems

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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