Getting to grips with accounts payable technology: history, trends, and your company’s needs
- 23 Dec 2020
- AP Automation
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start investing in accounts payable technology. The market is filled with state-of-the-art solutions that make traditional AP challenges a thing of the past, while also improving your team’s efficiency and opening the door to increased benefits with your suppliers.
Interested in learning more about accounts payable technology and how it can benefit your business, but not sure where to start? We’ve put together a primer with suggestions on where to start, what to consider, and trends to look out for.
Brush up on the basics
Before delving into the importance of AP technology, take some time to familiarize yourself with the lingo. Since there are plenty of terms that are used quite frequently within the accounts payable industry, you’ll want to make sure you have a go-to resource for all of the basic language - as well as modern terminology ranging from asset and capital to touchless invoice processing.
A lot of history - and a little intrigue
It’s worthwhile to have a broad overview of the history of accounting as well. Understanding the evolution of the AP department - from the first examples of accounting in the ancient world to modern advances in automation - can help you make smart decisions moving forward.
Of course, most histories involve a juicy scandal or two, and accounting is no exception. Discover tantalizing tidbits about the seemingly sedate accounting world in our tell-all article, “Cooking the Books: Five of the Top Accounting Scandals Through History,” where we discuss the Enron scandal of 2001, the Olympus scandal of 2011, and everything else exciting in-between.
With a more thorough grounding in the history of the industry and the terms you need to know, you’re ready to start setting some accounts payable objectives for your organization. There’s no better way to achieve these objectives than with AP automation - a technology that’s nothing short of revolutionary for your business. Cloud-based AP automation, when implemented properly, can improve the speed, accuracy, and cost of your overall accounts payable operations - elevating AP from a back-office function to a position of real importance within the company.
Identify the trends
Trends define what we watch on the news and read on the Internet, as well as the clothes we wear and activities we engage in on the weekend. Accounts payable trends show us important patterns to analyze for future business development and goal setting. Technology plays a big part in determining what’s currently trending with AP solutions - and with the pandemic fundamentally changing the way many of us do business, cloud-based systems offer flexibility and laser-fast speed to value. The most advanced cloud AP automation solutions also offer plenty of pre-packaged integration options, enabling you to tailor your system to meet your company’s specific requirements.
AI and machine learning have been hot topics in accounts payable for some time now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. In fact, a solution not taking advantage of this kind of technology can no longer call itself “modern” without AI and machine learning. Intelligent invoice data capture technology classifies documents, extracts data, and corrects errors - streamlining your workflow and freeing your employees up to focus on other tasks.
Another crucial tool that AP technology offers is the ability to provide accurate, real-time metrics and analysis against key performance indicators (KPIs). Knowing exactly where your company stands on important metrics like cost per invoice and invoice lead time can help you determine what aspects of your invoicing process need to be improved; measuring (and improving upon) your touchless processing rate can lead to a host of benefits, including discounts from suppliers for early payment.
By now you’ve come to realize that investing in accounts payable technology is becoming more and more of a necessity if you want your business to achieve - and maintain - an advantage. But how do you know which AP technology is most suitable for your organization? With plenty of accounts payable software choices on the market, it’s a bit of a challenge knowing which system might be the right fit for you. A thorough, multi-step vetting process is essential - one in which you carefully design your scope, determine which elements of the accounts payable process you’d like to improve, and identify your system dependencies.
Accounts payable technology will continue to evolve and grow, as will AP’s importance within the overall success of companies in virtually every industry. Be sure to check our blog often for the latest updates, market trends, and tips for maximizing your accounts payable goals.
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