How to Manage a Modern Accounts Payable Department

How to Manage a Modern Accounts Payable Department

Pssst. I'd like to let you in on a little secret: managing the modern accounts payable department is easy. Really easy. Like saving-15-percent-on-your-auto-insurance easy.

Let me clarify, though: The modern accounts payable department is easy to manage; easier than its analog predecessor. It's getting to the modern AP department in the first place that's hard.

Once you've modernized your AP department, then, can you look forward to time and cost savings. AP can even start generating its own revenue; a full 180 from a department that's been associated with unavoidable costs.

So what's managing the modern AP department look like, then?

Chapter 1: A day in the life

Meet Glinda, the AP manager at Yellowbrick & Road, maker of artisanal red slippers. Glinda starts her day by checking emails and prioritizing tasks. Next, she delves into her AP portal where she finds invoices that are automatically matched to their corresponding POs.

In the past, the process of matching POs to invoices was a manually arduous process that took her team hours to complete. Often, they'd wander off on a long journey to track down the original PO. And once the receiving department processed the shipment, Glinda's team would start their journey anew for payment approval.

Since the matching process is now automatic, Glinda only manages the payments approvals workflow. She simply clicks her magic wand—and poof!—approvals are sent. Glinda quickly started calling her computer mouse a magic wand because approvals are routed like magic—even complex ones requiring conditional approvals.

But Glinda's fairytale department didn't come to be all at once. Rather, it was the result of upgrading to a cloud-based platform.

Chapter 2: Behind the curtain

Cloud-based technology, such as ones that AP automation are built upon, allow data to be shared easily across different departments and applications. This allows intelligence to be unlocked across resources within an organization. What's more, executives, managers—even entry-level accountants—gain access to a trove of data.

But information isn't the only thing unlocked by cloud-based technology. Employees, too, are freed from their desks and able to complete their work anywhere there's an internet connection.

Behind the curtain of cloud-based technology is its hub-and-spoke underpinnings, this way of sharing data also shifts the expectation of open, two-way communication that may elude top-down hierarchical structures—like the ones often found in payables.

That's when Glinda discovered a magical thing happening in her department.


computer person directing gears who are rowing in a boat


Chapter 3: Cloud-based courage and intelligence

Leo, an otherwise bashful accountant, spoke up.

He discovered both a suspicious vendor—Flying Monkey, LLC—and an opportunity for early payment discounts from Emerald City Logistics. Leo was able to accomplish such sleuthing because he had access to tools that allowed him to analyze and compile his findings; he was even able to work up projections on the savings and revenue earned by harnessing dynamic discounting.

What's more, he was able to communicate all these things in an email—Glinda's preferred communication method—allowing for quick action.

By providing her team with robust tools, Glinda wasn't so much empowering her team, rather, she was making it easier for her to manage her team, and get the job done. Glinda just pointed the way; her team drove her to success.

The road to AP automation is much closer than you think.

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