Why you need to create a strategic accounts payable function

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Enterprises consistently act and think strategically when it comes to business functions but does anyone really ever stop and ask themselves what it means to act strategically? In many businesses, one department that is often overlooked is the Accounts Payable team. Many times, organizations implement a tactical approach to securing and processing payments, rather than embrace a strategic function. A strategic accounts payable function is one that is cross-functional and cost-effective due to the support of intelligent tools and technologies. In your own organization, have you thought about making your AP department a more strategic function of your organization?  

When it comes to accounts payable, creating a strategic function is a much more hands-on approach. The transition from tactical to strategic takes time and effort, but with the right tools and support in place, you can create a more cost-effective, efficient, and resilient accounts payable process. What does it mean to have a more strategic AP function? Below we break down the basis of strategic accounts payable and how you can implement this practice in your own organization.

The difference between tactical and strategic AP

Both tactical and strategic accounts payable work to get their invoices paid and processed, but the means of accomplishing this goal varies. With strategic accounts payable functions, organizations work to reduce costs associated with invoicing payments and actively strive to break down silos, creating a more collaborative process with cross-functional engagement. By utilizing data and intelligence, they proactively engage with sellers and foster positive relationships. In a tactical accounts payable function, many organizations are using paper processes rather than implementing a digital-first approach. This leads to siloed departments, longer processing times, and overall, a more costly accounts payable function. 

Starting your strategic AP journey

Becoming a strategic AP function isn’t something that happens overnight. It will take concerted effort and a clear directive from stakeholders—along with significant investment. The key to successful AP transformation lies in understanding the reasoning for moving towards a more strategic function. Ask yourself some of the following questions to drive discipline and focus in creating a more strategic AP department. 

  • What outcomes should the work that AP is doing reduce?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What happens if your process is not as successful as you’d hope?

With the support of a strong digital platform and a connected network, the transition from tactical to strategic can be done more easily. That’s where Tradeshift comes in. 

The Tradeshift network facilitates a fully digital approach to AP. We make digital the default for the orders, e-invoices, conversations, and other transactions that occur between you and your sellers. And, with access to early payment options, you can work to get paid faster and more reliably, helping you maintain a steady cash flow. Using Tradeshift Pay, your organization can embrace a digital-first approach by implementing artificial intelligence to help create an efficient payables process. You can quickly and easily adjust the level of involvement our AI has in your process, allowing unbridled customization.

When it comes to AP automation, our technological tools leave space for human interaction when it matters most. Ranked as best-in-class for ePayable solutions, Tradeshift will take your operations to the next level by offering you access to the professional networks you need alongside insightful and actionable data. 


The road to embracing strategic AP doesn’t need to be a long and challenging one. With the right support system and the right tools in place, you can shift your organization from a tactical approach to a more insightful, effective, and strategic one.

To better understand the benefits of embracing strategic AP in your enterprise, check out our Definitive Accounts Payable Guide.

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