Guest Article from SAP Concur

It’s difficult for even the most astute business expert to predict what lies ahead in 2024, especially with ongoing inflation, economic disruptions, and a growing list of destabilizing political events worldwide. At the same time, slowing growth across numerous industries means companies are tightening their belts and asking departments to do more with less.

As a result, many accounts payable teams are being tasked with driving reduced costs and improving operational efficiency to strengthen company profitability and workforce productivity. 

With these challenges in mind, here are four ways AP teams can help future-proof their business by becoming more adaptable and proactive in the face of change.

1. Mitigate the risk of non-compliant spend

Business email compromise attacks, phishing schemes, payment fraud, and account takeovers are just a few of the ways fraud can bite into the bottom line. 

In 2022, 40% of AP departments experienced multiple cases of attempted or actual payment fraud1

To ensure spend compliance, accounts payable teams need to:

  • Use intelligent technology and automation so your AP team can view and manage your company’s invoices and spend in one place and have the system automatically flag duplicate invoices or unsolicited invoices from unapproved vendors.
  • Have AI tools automatically enforce compliance and check everything against your policies.
  • Ensure global compliance by partnering with experts so your company understands the local requirements and tax laws for each market where you operate.

2. Maximize AP efficiency and visibility into supplier spend 

When AP departments capture and pay invoices manually, they struggle to see what is being invoiced, how it is being paid, to whom, and when. A slow-moving, inefficient AP department puts your business at risk for cash flow crunches, late fees, and unhappy suppliers who want to be paid faster.

To improve AP efficiency and increase your AP team’s visibility into vendor spend, you need to:

  • Centralize and automate your company’s entire invoice management process — from purchase request through payment — so you can automatically capture invoices regardless of how they are submitted (fax, email, or postal mail) and efficiently process them. 
  • Reduce manual work by integrating credit card and P-card feeds and automatically capturing receipts and invoices. 
  • Use near real-time data to power reports that identify unsubmitted or unassigned credit card transactions, employees generating policy exceptions, managers with long approval cycle times, and more, to pinpoint opportunities for streamlining processes.

3. Transform AP into a profit center 

AP departments want to be seen as a profit center within their organization, not a cost center. And yet, those teams that lack automation and consistent processes spend 4x as much ($6.30 per invoice) to process an invoice as departments with end-to-end automation and consistent processes.2

To optimize your company’s accounts payable program, you need to:

  • Streamline and reduce invoice processing time so AP can ensure payments are made quickly and accurately.
  • Eliminate manual data entry by automatically extracting and capturing data from invoices.
  • Implement automatic workflows to ensure that all payment requests have the right codes, approvals, and attachments required for approval. 

4. Boost employee productivity 

Your employees don’t want to spend all their time chasing down invoice and payment approvals, providing payment status updates to vendors, or dealing with tedious or overly complicated tasks or cumbersome technology. They’d rather be doing more fulfilling and higher impact work that drives your business forward. 

To boost the employee experience and drive productivity, you need to:

  • Remove manual tasks that adversely impact the work employees do every day.
  • Empower your employees to work on the go by making it easy for managers to approve purchase requests, invoices, and spend via the web or from a mobile app, and for employees to process invoices.
  • Eliminate manual data transfers between solutions to enhance data security and improve efficiency.

AI and automation = increased AP adaptability

No one knows what the future will bring. Fortunately, there is an easy way to build a more resilient and adaptable company. 

By putting an intelligent AP solution in place, you’ll be able to help your company mitigate the impact of non-compliant supplier spend, maximize AP efficiency and visibility into supplier spend, transform AP into a profit center, optimize your payable program, and boost employee productivity.

Download the full report

Download the 2024 CFO Insights Report: A New Role in Managing Uncertainty to learn how CFOs’ increased responsibility for managing risk and uncertainty impacts their role – including the challenges, opportunities, and how they should respond and position themselves and their teams. Visit SAP® Concur® at concur.com.

References.

1. How Automation Reduces the Cost of Invoice Processing and Disbursements, a commissioned study conducted by the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) on behalf of SAP Concur, 2023.

2. How Automation Reduces the Cost of Invoice Processing and Disbursements, a commissioned study conducted by the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) on behalf of SAP Concur, 2023.

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