CFOs are stressed for good reasons, but there is help.

It’s time to move beyond the PDF invoice and towards autonomous AP.

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Why are CFOs stressed?

Age-old challenges

Tactical challenges continue to persist, which dovetail into more significant challenges for CFOs, like delayed reporting to the business, limited visibility on day-to-day cash flow, late payments and fees, and incomplete forecasting.

Ardent Partners States of ePayables Report 2022 challenges chart
Ardent Partners States of ePayables Report 2022 challenges chart

New challenges & risks

With economic changes, supply chain disruptions, remote workforces, and other global and political problems, the role of CFOs has expanded considerably. Today, CFOs have to juggle more responsibilities, such as ESG, cybersecurity, e-invoice mandates, and employee burnout.

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The current state of AP automation.

Frustrations with the PDF Invoice


61% of companies say their AP is fully or partially automated, but they do not see the return on investments they expected. Many use digitized receipts – or PDFs –but remain stressed by limited visibility, manual processing and unnecessary costs. Why?

The answer

Automation has not kept pace with the needs of today’s AP processes. Simply put, it’s not helping alleviate the challenges the way the industry thought it would.

Levels of automation across core areas of AP

chart showing percentage levels of automation across core areas of AP

The PDF invoice reduced paper but didn’t fix the common AP process problems.

There is a perception that reducing paper and increasing the use of PDFs equates to efficient processes and better visibility. But this is not the case. Even though almost 50% of organizations have decreased paper invoices, nearly half still see invoice exceptions as a top challenge and reporting and analytics as a top priority.

It’s time for the industry to move beyond the PDF. Expectations have shifted, so AP organizations must evaluate the end-to-end procure-to-pay process (P2P), including tools to address challenges.

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Top Challenge

“high percentage of invoice exceptions”

(45% of AP organizations)

Top Priority

Reporting and analytics

(48% of AP organizations)

Ardent Partners: The State of ePayables 2022: Mastering a Key Function at a Critical Time

According to IDC

“The traditionally siloed nature of financial activities such as treasury, AP, expense, tax, and digital payments is rapidly changing. These walls will break down, allowing for more coordination, collaboration, and communication among these financial activities. Customers, more and more, are demanding a single view of their company’s financial position.”

Source: IDC SaaSPath Survey-2022, IDC, March, 2022 N=110

It’s time for Autonomous AP.

The industry has transitioned from paper to PDFs to partial automation. However, most still have not achieved a touchless AP process where no intervention occurs from invoice receipt to posting to the ERP. Although attaining 100% touchless is unlikely, you can come close.

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It combines digitization and AI for a seamless, autonomous process.

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It leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and optical character recognition (OCR).

Why is automation not the same as autonomous?

The AP evolution

Most organizations fall somewhere in the middle of the AP evolution spectrum – where PDFs and partial automation live.

The past

paper and pencil icon

Paper invoices

The present

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PDF + e-Invoices
(most AP teams today)

The future

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Autonomous AP

These organizations need autonomous AP to manage complexities like direct spending, indirect spending, and employee expenses – things simple automation tools, like machine learning and robotic process automation, cannot manage without human intervention. What makes autonomous AP different is the autonomy, independence, and transparency it provides.

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Stress less. See more. Move to Autonomous AP.

Change is inevitable, and sometimes it’s hard when it happens quickly. End-to-end automation is a top objective for shared services organizations (81%).

Learn more about autonomous AP and how your business can move beyond the PDF invoice.

Ready to transform your AP? 

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