June 2019 — The overall perception of Accounts Payable (AP) in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem is changing for the better as clearly evidenced from the survey responses we analyzed from the research study conducted by Dooap in the first half of 2019.
By Bob Cohen
AP as an organization is now viewed as more valuable than in any time in its past. More and more companies are realizing the potential that AP has to offer…if only they can continue to automate and transform their function. If so, then they can deliver not only greater efficiencies and lower costs, but also align the priorities of the AP department with the priorities of the entire business.
During our analysis of the Dooap market research result, which included the feedback from over 100 AP and IT professionals, we found that eliminating paper and reducing manual tasks (50% of respondents) was the highest priority for the AP department in 2019. Having too much paper and performing too many manual tasks are the bane of AP departments, as they can impact the entire AP process. They also happen to go hand-in-glove with each other. Luckily, AP leaders realize the limitations that manual, paper-based processes can put on their teams. Thus, eradicating, or at the very least, minimizing the use of paper and manual processes is paramount to the growth and transformation of the AP function.
The next highest priority for 2019 listed was implementing an AP automation solution (43% of respondents). Eliminating paper and reducing manual tasks doesn’t happen by itself, it requires automation. It is an encouraging sign that the majority of respondents realize this and have AP automation near the top of their activity list for the coming year.
Also coming in at 43% of respondents, and tied for the second highest 2019 priority, was visibility into invoice and payment data. Process improvements are next to impossible without first establishing baseline metrics, and AP teams would be unable to determine any level of improvement without them. Improving visibility into invoice and payment data is a clear sign that AP departments are beginning to understand the value in deepening their insight into the day-to-day operations of the function. Gaining visibility is always a big challenge when there is too much paper floating around in AP.
Cost reduction (38%) came in as the fourth highest priority. Cost reduction has always been a high priority for AP and it will continue to be so in the years ahead. In the highly competitive business world, reducing costs always is a major focus for a business. It is something that can be directly supported by AP, and one where the results can be easily presented to the C-Suite for review.
Understanding AP’s priorities and how to align to enterprise objectives are vital first steps to improving AP operations and changing the perception of AP as a whole. Reducing costs will always be one of the top priorities for AP, and we have seen how automating the AP function can go a long way to drive down those costs. Automation also plays a major role in tracking invoice and payment data and providing AP leaders with analytics and reporting.
Currently less than 25% of AP departments in the Dynamics world are very or fully automated with respect to their reporting and analytics levels, and possess the ability to adequately measure key AP metrics. While this figure alone is disconcerting, AP appears to trend in the right direction and prioritize increasing their knowledge of their performance. By setting goals for the department and executing on a plan to accomplish them, AP will be able to provide greater strategic value and reach a more important place within the enterprise.
About the Author
Bob Cohen, Research Director at Ardent Partners, leads Ardent's coverage of Accounts Payable, Business Networks, and Travel and Expense Management. He is a seasoned professional with more than fifteen years of experience helping enterprises transform their Source-to-Pay operations.
Research Report: The State of AP Automation in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem
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