Accounts Payable teams are slow to adopt automation despite reporting continued challenges that hinder their roles

25th January 2022 – Birmingham, UK. A recent global study conducted by The Institute of Financial Operations and Leadership (IFOL) – and in association with Tipalti. The research has revealed that despite ongoing challenges within Accounts Payable, the switch to automated processes is slower than expected.

A growing number of AP teams are now fully automated (9%) in comparison to a 2019 survey which showed only 5%. But the majority of global AP teams (54%) still remain only partially automated.

Over two-thirds (68%) still manually key invoices into the ERP/Accounting software. Whilst 56% of respondents spend over ten hours a week processing invoices and supplier payments.

The top processing challenges for AP teams

  1. The time spent processing invoice exceptions causes delays (22%)
  2. Too much manual data entry (21%)

The main issues caused by processing challenges

  1. Stress to the AP teams (30%)
  2. Damaged relationships with vendors and suppliers (21%)
  3. Delays in delivery of goods and services (20%)

The survey has also uncovered an acute awareness amongst respondents with 88% stating finance roles could be different if processes were improved. 

The speed of change

Since 2019, the data showed that more companies (41%) are now planning to automate their Accounts Payable processes in the next 12 months.

In comparison to the 2019 figures, a further 5% of 2021 respondents anticipate their department being fully automated within the next 6-12 months.

The largest percentage of global respondents (41%) are expecting full automation within their department in 1-3 years, and this remains consistent with the 2019 data (47%). 

Sam Hitchen-Rae, Director at IFOL comments, “Despite the ongoing challenges that are still being experienced, they are still yet to drive quick change with most businesses. Our data shows that those who are moving forward with automation are seeing a reduction in manual processing, and therefore a reduction in processing times.

Rob Israch, GM Europe at Tipalti says, “This research should serve as a wakeup call to
businesses yet to invest in finance automation. By automating the AP process, teams can ditch mundane and time-consuming tasks, scale in-line with the business, and prepare for the future demand placed on finance teams that growth will bring. By embracing automation, finance leaders have greater control and visibility – crucial always, but particularly in the current and unpredictable climate.”

For more information on the study please contact or download the full report here

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