When it comes to accounting and finance, historically AP/AR departments have been the quintessential back office functions. But businesses today are expecting more, particularly from their accounts payable function. The C-suite is finally realizing that if they can get at the information and data housed in their AP department, they can use it to support better management of their working capital, mitigate potential risk, and make more strategic decisions.
But how will they accomplish that when many AP teams are still processing invoices manually, and all of that valuable data is buried in piles of paper?
Further, how will accounting professionals ever feel like they can advance their careers when there is no way to prove their value to an organization if their time is mostly spent on mundane, tedious tasks, like data entry?
Mark Brousseau, consultant, Institute of Finance Management (IOFM) spokesperson, and AP automation subject matter expert, believes that both of these challenges can be solved by digitizing the invoice processing workflow and predicts that companies who have not already automated their AP function will realize the true value of doing so…and soon. “It will be unrecognizable,” he says. "Digital, data driven, and strategic. Stakeholders will unlock the value of AP automation and leverage it in more ways than ever.” And senior leaders will be able to adopt practices and initiatives to help guide the advancement of accounting and finance professionals in their organizations.
Let’s consider one common accounting function as an example: Invoice and payment processing (accounts payable/AP). When someone is a member of an AP department that still processes invoices manually, their job consists of tedious tasks such as data entry, going around to managers to get approval signatures, tracking down lost invoices, and fielding calls from vendors wanting to know the status of their payment. It’s not only drudgery, it certainly doesn’t allow for any creative thinking or time for more value-added contributions. And they have little opportunity for anything that would gain them visibility as a potential future leader. Sure, there might be chances for promotions, but they may face the same situation even as a department manager.
This is where those in entry level and mid-management finance and accounting roles can step forward and get noticed. Imagine how innovative and forward-thinking you will appear to be if you are the one to provide a solution that will unlock valuable data, save money, make existing staff more efficient, and all resulting in more money going straight to the bottom line.
Imagine if you are the one to turn your AP department from a cost center into a profit center. And imagine if you are the one to ask the senior leaders in your organization, “Where do we stand with working capital so we can more accurately forecast cash and manage budgets?” instead of “How do we manage this ever-growing pile of invoices?”
Once a few heads turn, dig deeper. Ask more strategic questions like, “How do we better manage our supply chain?" And, best of all, “What do we do with the cash that has been freed up?” Not only that, you’ll be well-prepared to answer those questions with, “I’ve got some ideas for new products I’d like to see us develop,” or, “By saving this much money from our accounts payable function, I recommend we re-allocate those funds into R&D.”
And imagine if you are a senior business leader, how much more productive, efficient, and profitable your enterprise will be when what has historically been a team of underutilized resources starts individually and collectively making strategic, value-added contributions? Like Mr. Brousseau said, “It will be unrecognizable!”
Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner Yooz comes from a legacy of business process automation and smart document management. We thrive to enable every member of finance and accounting departments to achieve more by automating data entry tasks so that you can focus on providing insights and make smart decisions that improve business operations overall.