5 New Year resolutions every AP manager should consider
- 04 Jan 2021
- Best Practice & Strategies
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, everyone looks forward to a new year and a fresh start. As accounts payable takes care of the year-end close, it is an excellent time to harness the power of AP automation to analyze pertinent data and pinpoint areas where improvements can be made in current accounts payable processes. Consider five smart new year resolutions accounts payable management should make for 2021 as the world emerges from a pandemic and prepares for a new normal.
Slow down and listen
The fast-paced accounts payable department often winds up feeling overworked with little time for interaction. With remote work becoming the new normal in 2020, this detachment might be more pronounced. An AP manager must make the effort to slow down and listen. Rather than just glancing at emails from vendors, read them carefully. Back them up with data from the AP solution to find opportunities to save money and negotiate current terms. Listen to what employees are saying about data, job satisfaction, and the organization as a whole. Instead of ducking potential conflicts, face them head-on and discuss possible solutions. Process this information along with the latest data from your AP automation solution to get a true picture of your current accounts payable processes - what is working well and the bottlenecks potentially slowing you down. Then, focus on improvement opportunities and to come up with viable solutions for everyone - vendors, the AP staff, the C-suite, and the entire company.
Also, the intelligent use of automation gives accounts payable management more time to slow their pace and pay careful attention to details. Modern managers spend their time analyzing data rather than processing. The AP department has emerged from the back office shadows to become a strategic partner with the C-suite. Data compiled from accounts payable solutions can help increase working capital and boost the bottom line, especially during the challenging and unsure days of COVID-19 in 2020 Use your knowledge and extra time to focus on becoming a positive example to your employees. Workers emulate what they see their managers doing.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new
It’s easy to get comfortable in your position and the way everything has been done for years. The pandemic forced people out of their comfort zones to work remotely, conduct virtual meetings, and use collaborative cloud tools to stay in touch. In the process, we discovered complacency can hold back essential progress. Commit to stepping out of your comfort zone to learn something new and try something innovative, such as:
- Cloud AP automation so everyone can collaborate in real-time at any time from any location and device, which also supports remote working situations;
- Touchless automation processes that save time, improve accuracy, and give the AP team more time to review money-saving opportunities, such as early payment discounts.
- Establish control of your invoice process, with configurable automation unique to your business needs. With the right AP automation tool in place, an organization can have a high level of automation and full control of the process.
- Friendly AP competitions to see who can process invoices faster by using technologies - and remember to give whimsical prizes to the winners; and
- Gamification, taking contests, competition, gaming, and automation to the next level in your AP department.
Leverage AP data to prove AP’s strategic value
As AP managers take a more active role with the C-suite, they are providing crucial financial data to help the company improve overall operations. Use your analytical abilities and AP automation to help everyone adopt strategies for increasing payables, such as finding ways to improve the efficiency of the invoice management process, including the use of AP automation solutions.
Company objectives play a crucial role in an organization’s success, especially as many businesses rebrand themselves to remain relevant and viable after the pandemic. The AP process helps define the company and fulfill its objectives. Schedule periodic meetings with all the employees to review the company objectives, so they can strive to meet or exceed the company’s overall goals. Mention you are providing the right tools for them to do it, such as AP automation, so they can spend more time on analyzing data rather than performing routine tasks. Explain to the staff the ease of working together remotely and staying on top of finances as they happen. When they experience it firsthand, they will instantly recognize the benefits of automation and how to harness its power to fulfill company objectives through the smart use of best AP practices.
Team up with Procurement counterparts
The accounts payable process really starts with procurement, so it is crucial to have a tight and open dialogue with the procurement team to drive true automation and control. This ongoing partnership is something that the entire organization will benefit from today and in the future.
Together, AP and procurement can achieve efficiency goals as well as realize important cost savings and take the lead in the organization’s digital transformation by:
- Discussing how to improve the vendor selection and onboarding processes.
- Reviewing the supplier master-data process.
- Considering current vendor contractor prices and how and where improvements can be made.
- Understanding the processes that are pivotal to developing e-procurement systems and ways AP can help.
Start the AP team’s transformation
Be committed to helping the AP department go from the back office to top consultants. Start by setting a clear vision for the AP team and make sure everyone understands and is on board. Explain how AP needs to stop focusing on the transaction (processing an invoice) and start focusing on the end goal of providing critical data to the financial statements.
To do so, it is essential to use automation tools that drive efficiency and provide control of the accounts payable processes. Provide ongoing training for the staff to learn how to optimize the potential of existing tools, such as AP automation. Offer continuing education, advancement opportunities, and incentives to keep AP employees loyal and motivated. When they feel valued and valuable, the AP team will be dedicated to doing the best possible job.
There’s no time like the present, with a new year around the corner, for an AP manager to make a few smart new year resolutions. Use AP automation tools to generate data and reports for 2020, and make sense of finances post-pandemic. Analyze them to find ways to save money, streamline operations, and improve the bottom line. Present your findings to the C-suite to show the value of automation and using the AP team as a strategic partner. Establish realistic goals and resolutions for 2021, so it can be the best year ever!