From Good to Great: How to Become a Better AP Leader

Singer Marian Anderson was once quoted saying, “Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” For any business executive or department manager, understanding the roles and needs the of your employees is the key to success as a leader.

Accounts payable (AP) departments are an integral part of any company. Having a capable leader to guide and help execute every aspect of the invoice cycle and payment process is critical to developing a well-functioning, efficient team.

Managing an accounts payable team not only requires an understanding of the logistical processes, but also means helping your staff feel supported, valued, and connected. However, in a world of paper-based invoice processing, this may be challenging. AP departments using this old method of working face multiple issues such as opaque, siloed workflows, delayed approvals, late payments, data entry errors, lost or misplaced invoices, high invoice processing costs, and greater fraud risk. These issues contribute to a workplace that is stressful, disconnected, inefficient, and, most of all, defeating!

Making a shift from labor-intensive processes to AP automation provides opportunities for leaders and accounts payable staff alike to improve efficiency, save time, eliminate mistakes, and optimize performance. This means staff members once embroiled in paper-based processes can take on empowering, strategic projects and analytical work that supports organizational growth.

Here are just some of the ways how shifting your accounts payable processes to an AP automation platform can help build happier accounts payable teams and position you as a stronger leader:

Improve Invoice Cycle Time

All accounts payable teams strive for a low invoice cycle time. Knowing how long it takes to process an invoice from when it’s received to when it’s archived allows teams to measure their average receipt-to-pay time and identify process inefficiencies. Teams can pinpoint what tasks are the most time consuming and pinpoint issues that create slowdowns and late payments, all of which can be addressed using an AP automation platform. Not only does AP automation track cycle times, but an automated process can also help teams improve invoice cycle time. These efficiency improvements can help teams feel more stable and successful. And, by understanding and addressing the pain points in your department’s invoice cycle, helps you become a more supportive, problem-solving leader.

Build Better Workflows

Using AP automation, you can design a system that maximizes efficiency. Digital platforms cut labor-intensive, error-prone AP tasks like invoice entry, scanning, receipt and purchase order matching, coding, correcting errors, and data migration and, in turn, dramatically increase productivity by helping staff handle an increasing volume of payables in half the time.

Teams can speed up invoice payment and approval processes with an AP automated system while ensuring on-time payments and reducing the need for discrepancy resolution. AP automation not only saves hours which were previously spent on manual data input, but a cloud-based platform also allows for greater collaboration and accountability.

Ultimately, AP automation helps accounts payable teams do more in less time and shift their focus from repetitive manual tasks to more strategic, meaningful work. This shift helps employees feel greater importance within the organization and helps department leaders showcase the value of their team within the company.

Stronger, Transparent Communication

Rather than juggling a slew of messy email chains, AP automation transforms the accounts payable process into one centralized online workflow. This change moves accounts payable departments away from siloed processes with little transparency into a team that knows the status of every invoice instantly and controllers can monitor payments along with the productivity of their staff.

And, cloud-based AP automation platforms mean department staff can access information on the status of an invoice at any time, from anywhere in the world. Not only does this communication promote a more unified work environment, but improved communication also saves everyone significant amounts of time.

When vendors ask for invoice updates, everyone has access to real-time invoice statuses, making communication easy and transparent. Because invoice data is captured and logged in a historical database, managers and their teams can quickly and accurately answer vendor questions regarding past payments or settle a dispute within cost or timeframe. These improvements mean companies can improve vendor relationships and ensures your vendors see you as a trustworthy partner.

Collaboration and fostering a culture of visibility with both internal and external stakeholders can further enhance your strength as a team leader in the department.

Accurate Data Means Greater Confidence

No one likes to feel they are making mistakes at work or doing an inadequate job. But, when you’re manually inputting data, no matter how careful you are, there are bound to be errors. Manually scanning documents and inputting data requires hours of intensive labor that are prone to mistakes and duplicate data entry.

Department workflows can be optimized from the very beginning by using AP automation for invoice collection, sorting, categorizing, and data input upon arrival. When sent electronically, invoices can be processed immediately and the data can be automatically, digitally extracted “as is” and free from errors.

AP automation’s fully automated data capture and analytics allow you to forecast a more accurate picture of costs and better control P&L. This gives your department greater confidence in their financial predictions as well as helps generate error-free reports.

Additionally, financial teams that can access data immediately are also able to pinpoint bottlenecks and pain points across the organization and use analytics to drive decisions for process change. With AP automation, you can analyze your department’s performance as well as examine historical data quickly in order to strategize innovative ways to save money and meet budget objectives.

When everyone works from one data source, department leaders can build a team that supports a data-driven culture, deliver accurate reports more frequently, complete a financial close quickly, and dive deeper into company data to provide strategic insights to other leaders within the organization. All these benefits help create teams with greater confidence and position your staff to support the company is more valuable, strategic ways.

Happier, Stronger Teams

It’s no longer just a buzzword. When done right, AP automation can bring vital benefits to an organization that means all your company resources, staff time, money, and processes, are working efficiently and effectively. Automation empowers organizations to create a future where accounts payable is no longer a tactical, back-office function but a strategic and visionary part of the company.

AP automation is the future and leaders who champion the switch this platform will help their entire department run smoother. Great accounts payable leaders can use AP automation to improve their department processes and increase staff morale across the board.

Circulus Team – Empowering the AP Leaders

Circulus, our efficient AP Solution, empowers your Accounts Payable team in multiple ways, making you a True Leader. The first step of becoming an effective AP Leader is to select the Right Solution and Solution Provider so that your internal AP team doesn’t feel the stress of change.

Our Circulus AP Automation Team with broad AP Automation Expertise has put in years of effort and expertise into creating a Cloud-Based AP Solutions that is resilient, scalable, and suitable for all types of organizations. Our Automation Implementation Approach is so seamless that your AP team wouldn’t feel a ripple as everything is handled by us. Get in touch with our Automation Experts today and become a Leader to Transform your AP Team. Meet our Team: https://circulus.io/ourteam/