New accounts payable skillsJanuary 3, 2023
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3 New Skills for Accounts Payable
The way of processing invoices is experiencing a transformation. Automation technologies are driving the changes in the way ap departments are handling invoices. The implementation of technology results in new processes and new ways of working. Such new operating models require new accounts payable skills.
As the existing challenges in the invoice management process begin to diminish, new challenges may arise. Some challenges include manual data entry, human errors, time-consuming supplier communications, and more. As you resolve these problems, the next question is: “What skills does my team need to be successful?” Accounts payable agents should quickly learn about data analytics and automation.
Automation in accounts payable; What are the new skills AP professionals need, and how can you help your team develop them?
In our years of experience supplying and implementing accounts payable automation software in global corporations, we have seen how companies adapt. In some cases, companies experience the following:
- Existing skill sets and expertise areas are not required for today’s accounts payable
- The current AP teams may have experienced staff who are not familiar with new technology, data, and software. They may be more comfortable with old ways of working.
As the way of processing invoices changes, companies require new skills to fully embrace the tools and get the most out of the acquired capabilities. Finance leaders have an important role in supporting the transition and helping their teams evolve to excel at some or all of the following skills.
New skills for accounts payable
Analysts expect that the accounts payable role will become less transactional and turn into a more relational one (people-oriented).
Today many large corporations rely on close collaboration with suppliers to stay competitive and perform their business. Automated solutions process invoices fast, giving agents more time to, for instance, build stronger supplier relationships.
For example, when a supplier is prepared to onboard the invoice vendor portal, the AP team can execute the plan and assist the supplier. AP agents must actively communicate the benefits and answer supplier questions for successful onboarding. This action will result in a higher percentage of e-invoices, fewer errors, and an even more seamless invoice processing cycle. Most importantly, improved relationships between agents and suppliers
To help your team acquire problem-solving skills, you can start by defining a project. Include your team in planning, deciding what to do, and identifying problems, so they feel responsible and completely grasp the actions.
IT and data science skills:
To increase the levels of automation of the AP tools, act on the data and reduce dependence on the IT department. The result will be an impact on the business process by gaining business agility.
IT knowledge and understanding of digital platforms.
Traditionally, processing an invoice has been a manual task. For the cases where processes were automated, support from IT was required to implement changes and optimize tools.
Today, accounts payable agents are more autonomous thanks to low-code, no-code accounts payable automation solutions. AP agents can create and change rules by themselves. This gives them more freedom and reduces their reliance on IT.
An accurate understanding of data.
The ability to interpret and understand data will help accounts payable agents recognize ways to improve the invoice process and handle other operations differently. With increased knowledge of IT and problem-solving skills, AP will make it possible to not only set new rules and address the needed changes to be more efficient but to be able to interact with others improving processes outside AP.
To help AP agents develop these skills, you could start by creating a champion role to promote the new technology within the team. Partnering the new generation (who appreciate the new tools) with the existing team members (who value the foundational process) could be another approach. The next step could be skills training; for team members who are process-oriented on supplier engagement and those who are tech/product oriented on data sciences.
You will see supplier relationships improve as your accounts payable team develops these competencies. That will lead to an increased resilient supply chain and higher business agility.
From tactical to strategic skills:
As AP agents acquire deeper knowledge of business processes, they will begin to think strategically. By learning to use invoice data and optimize software, they can help improve business effectiveness.
Traditionally supply chain and AP are part of different business processes, managed by different software applications, and tend not to interact with each other. However, these and other departments want to improve their ability to predict and overcome supply chain disruption. As accounts payable becomes more collaborative, inside and outside the organization, and utilizes data daily, strategic skills will help AP agents make decisions autonomously, plan in advance, and foresee possible disruptions.
To help your accounts payable team develop this skill, you could arrange sessions where members from other departments (procurement, supply chain, etc.) explain situations they see on the role and might affect the AP processes by generating exceptions. As a result, your AP team will enjoy higher levels of autonomous decision-making.
Recap: managing the change and adapting will impact AP and the business positively
When invoice automation is introduced, AP leaders will decide how to handle the change. They will also consider the requirements and the outcomes for accounts payable departments. It is crucial to bear in mind that the absence of action, and negligent change management, will bring negative consequences. By addressing the challenges of the new skills needed for accounts payable professionals, AP leaders can have a positive impact.
At Cevinio, we accompany our customers throughout the implementation process. We want to help you go beyond. We know it is possible to achieve more than a speedy invoice process by leveraging the data provided by the tools.
Do you want to learn more about how Cevinio can improve AP productivity, aid in growth, and impact the business? Contact us