AP Metrics that Matter – Webinar with Ardent Partners

In a recent webinar, Bob Cohen, Vice President of Research at Ardent Partners, debuted the survey findings from almost 200 Accounts Payable (AP) departments, to uncover the most valuable and widely used accounts payable benchmarks and metrics. Bob was joined by Sam Mele, Senior Vice President of Sales at Basware, to discuss some of the main AP challenges (i.e., lengthy invoice approval processes, compliance requirements, exception handling, and high costs associated with delays) and how they hinder global organisational efficiency.  

While automation is on an upward trajectory and we've seen a market increase in how AP automation is used throughout the organisation, that doesn't mean that AP isn't facing significant challenges. Ardent Partners has researched automation and the technologies available for upwards of 30 years, but many organisations are still mired in the day-to-day work. We’re often asked, “Why bother measuring?”, and the answer is very simple: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, and if you can’t manage it, you can’t improve it. 

Challenges slowing AP down in 2023 (by survey respondent percentage): 

  • Invoice/payment approvals take too long – 47% 

  • High percentage of exceptions – 45% 

  • Late supplier payments – 23% 

  • High invoice processing costs – 22% 

By measuring performance and using metrics to manage and improve processes, AP departments can shift from paper invoices to electronic invoicing to eliminate the need to track exceptions, reduce manual intervention, enjoy the benefits of straight-through processing, and embrace the significance of spend under management and cost control. 

Starting the digital transformation journey with AP 

The webinar participants stress the importance of starting the digital transformation journey with AP, as the data and insights obtained from AP can drive an intelligent procurement transformation. They also discuss the value of AP in providing data for forecasting, budgeting, planning, cash flow analysis, fraud prevention, compliance, and meeting ESG requirements. 

Leveraging technology to adapt 

Sam Mele and Bob Cohen advocate for the adoption of technology, collaboration, and a value-adding approach in AP. They encourage AP professionals to understand the implications of the procure-to-pay process and its impact on the entire organisation. The discussion emphasises the need for training staff to recognise fraud and compliance challenges, leveraging analytics in AP, and enhancing supplier management and customer service. 

The future of AP 

The journey of AP automation doesn't end once you've eliminated manual tasks and leveraged technology. The excitement of the journey begins when you move from tactical to strategic.  

The future of AP involves greater automation, collaboration, and a focus on adding strategic value. It requires understanding the broader importance of AP processes, incorporating technology effectively, and training AP teams to contribute to the organisation's financial goals.  

By addressing these challenges and adopting a technological approach, AP departments can become a strategic differentiator and positively impact the organisation's financial metrics and overall operational efficiency. Join here to listen to the full webinar on the “AP Metrics that Matter”.