Top 5 traits of a successful accounts payable team

September 24, 2019 Matt Vermeulen


The best accounts payable departments are amazingly efficient and produce exceptional results. Just look at their performance compared to all others:

Those are almost unbelievable numbers if you’re coming from a legacy paper-based department. 

So how do they do it? Let’s use Ardent Partners’ research to take a look at five core competencies of best-in-class accounts payable departments. 

Changemakers dedicated to change management

Best-in-class accounts payable teams look at change holistically and strategically to build a roadmap for digital transformation. The first thing they do is research and understand which new technologies are most beneficial, both strategically and financially, for the long-term success of the accounts payable department structure and the company as a whole. These teams moved on to greater and more adaptive technology like cloud computing, AI, digitization, and full automation. That allows them to improve reporting and data analytics, automate, reduce costs, increase collaboration, and improve visibility into data. 

Innovators willing to take risks

Transforming accounts payable means taking a hard look at the way your department functions. Best-in-class departments are willing to make wholesale changes to massively increase the performance of their teams. That promotes a culture that values experimentation for positive change. As a result, best-in-case departments are 48 percent more likely to make electronic payments and 56 percent more likely to process invoices straight-through, translating those risks into positive gains.

Leverage technology to increase company intelligence

Best-in-class departments realize the most transformative value of accounts payable automation is in the greater intelligence and collaborative abilities it provides to the rest of the company. With a truly digital accounts payable function, top teams can provide better and more actionable information to executives. This means teams can provide richer payment information to suppliers, finance, and procurement.  

Commitment to standardization

Best-in-class teams are 52 percent more likely to standardize accounts payable processes across the company. It sounds basic, but a ton of departments still struggle to manage a standard format for invoices. Whether that’s because the process is paper-based, old, or cumbersome the outcomes are still the same: lost efficiency and bottlenecks. That’s why best-in-class teams recognize the necessity of repeatable processes and use a digital platform to help organize the process. 

Customer-centric mindset

Best-in-class accounts payable teams realize the importance of a positive departmental image. They’ve adopted a mentality of collaborating and working positively with both suppliers and internal stakeholders. While that may not sound like traditional accounts payable job descriptions, it sets up the groundwork for the team to be a strategic partner for procurement and finance teams. That plays out in the stats: best-in-class teams are more than twice as likely to use their digital insights to partner with procurement and treasury. 

Be best: best-in-class 

A successful accounts payable team knows how to take full advantage of the changes taking place across the whole B2B landscape to transform how they operate. If you’re looking to transform your department, then take a look at Ardent Partners’ State of Epayables to find more best-in-class benchmarks and advice. 

Get your free copy here


About the Author

Matt Vermeulen

Matt Vermeulen writes about B2B commerce for Tradeshift. Whether he's writing about Accounts Payable best practices or debunking AI myths, Matt enjoys making complex topics easy to understand and fun to read.

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