Historically, finance and accounting departments, particularly AP/AR, have been considered as part of the back office, usually comprised of support and administrative teams. Because front office departments, like sales and marketing, tend to get the most recognition—even credit—for the financial success of a company, the back office tends to be somewhat invisible. Unless you need help with something!
Now, however, businesses are expecting more from their AP function. Like leveraging data housed in their AP department to support better management of their working capital. Even further, freeing up cash to use for extending product lines and R&D.
But how do you get there when your staff is bogged down with manual repetitive processes that take too long and cost too much, frustrating internal leadership and valued suppliers?
When members of your AP department are still processing invoices manually, their job consists of tedious tasks such as data entry, going around to managers to get approval signatures, tracking down lost invoices, and fielding calls from vendors wanting to know the status of their payment. It’s not only drudgery, it certainly doesn’t allow for any creative thinking or time for more value-added contributions. Worse, AP staff have little opportunity for anything that would gain them visibility to advance their career. Sure, there might be promotion opportunities, but they may face the same situation even as a department manager.
There’s hope! For years, companies have thought they could throw more people at the problem. Now, they are getting serious about automation and leveraging the wide range of technologies to choose from. And they are getting excited about increasing efficiencies, reallocating resources to more value-added tasks, and sending cost savings straight to the bottom line.
In Part 2 of this blog series, we’ll get into more detail about how finance and accounting leaders—and their teams—can lead the overall business in productivity and contributions to the bottom line. From the back office.