The accounts payable year in review: 3 trends that shaped 2018

February 7, 2019 Matt Vermeulen

2018 was a banner year for best-in-class accounts payable specialists, thanks in large part to the continued move towards AP automation across industries. 2019 will be your year to thrive, but before you look ahead, let’s take a minute to look back at the trends that shaped accounts payable last year.

1. Slow adoption rates

There’s still too much paper and too many exceptions, and approval rates are still too slow.

Although paperless invoicing options have now been around for over 20 years, a majority of organizations still submit invoices on paper. Only 45 percent of companies receive e-invoices. That leads to longer approval times and frustrating exception rates.

Most organizations recognize this and are actively pursuing solutions to automate their processes—almost 70 percent of companies recognize that “smarter” systems are the foundation for a successful solution. And that means the future of AP is ripe for a change and the industry is poised for a breakthrough.

2. Artificial intelligence and automation

AP is teetering on the brink of a digital revolution. And organizations in 2018 started to push toward it. For good reason. The technology is ready to make your accounts payable department a data hub for your organization, dramatically shifting how you do your work. The technologies revolutionizing AP? Artificial intelligence and automation.  

According to Gartner’s research, artificial intelligence is a transformational innovation in the finance industry. Though much of the hype creates an unrealistic view of what AI will actually do, the most important aspect of using AI in your accounts payable solution is its ability to help you make more intelligent choices.

A working AI solution brings all the wealth of your organization’s data within reach in seconds. That means it has access to every invoice ever received by your organization—sorted and organized—and ready to share at a moments notice, making your decision making process smarter and more assured.

And while AI is helping you make better choices, automation is still the most important investment your department can make for a more proactive position in your organization. Without automation, an artificial intelligence solution will have no data to analyze and use. When you automate, you’re not just creating a stop-gap solution by scanning documents, you’re actually making your whole department digital. And when you’ve got every transaction digitized, you’re on your way to becoming the go-to department for strategic planning and financial intelligence.

3. Collaboration Revolution

In 2018, proactive AP departments started collaborating and tag-teaming with the other financial teams in their company.

And that’s when you start strategically influencing how your company operates. With access to “thousands (or tens of thousands) of invoices and supplier payments,” you have qualified and strategic intelligence to share with your CFO and CPO to help guide your business’s financial decisions. That leads to more buy-in from other departments and helps you become quicker and more agile in your processes.

Think of the benefits a truly collaborative financial team can have on your companies cash strategies. With the kind of data available from a digitized solution, AP can help make the best decision for payments. Treasury gets to use that data to more quickly implement KYC procedures, and procurement can quickly access up to date information to capture every opportunity to save money.

And just as innovation in business and consumer interactions have to bring value to both sides, so too does business-to-business interactions. The goal of automation in e-invoicing is to bring value for everyone in finance. And with that kind of collaboration, it’s a win-win-win solution.

Ready to make digital the default in your accounts payable department? Get your accounts payable gameplan to thrive in 2019.

 

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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