Is Technology Transforming AP?

For those of us who have been involved in AP in one capacity or another for many years, we have seen technology play a big role.  Moving from the old “green screen” financial systems AP had to work in (and believe it or not they are still around) and complicated workflow applications to more user friendly ERP platforms and the myriad of point solutions available has provided AP managers and practitioners the ability to transform their operations.   And while many forward thinking organizations have done just that, there are many more who have not.

There can be no argument that almost all AP departments have implemented new technologies over the past several years, with document capture software being one of the more ubiquitous technology upgrades.  What is much less clear is that technology has been implemented in a strategic, holistic approach designed to maximize operational efficiency,  increase service levels and promote vendor self-service. This can be an intimidating task but the payoff is well worth it.  AP managers can benefit by creating a long-term plan that transforms their department into a strategic corporate asset.  To do so look carefully at the whole landscape of services and solutions available to you and pick best-of-breed solutions that fit well together to help you reach your goal.  Do not be fooled into thinking that one size fits all.  Many solution providers will package multiple solutions into one suite.  In many cases however there is one dominant technology they are trying to sell and the rest is more window dressing to keep you from looking at competing vendors.  It is okay to different solutions for different functions, like document capture, workflow, vendor portals, e Invoicing, content management, dynamic discounting/supply chain finance, dispute management, etc.  Choose solutions that match your goals, organization, industry, corporate culture, IT infrastructure, and budget.  But most importantly look at those solution providers who can articulate how they can help you achieve your goals, not how you can help them meet their sales goals.