New accounts payable skillsJanuary 3, 2023
Discover Cevinio’s features and developments of 01/2023February 2, 2023
A new skillset for accounts payable professionals
The way of processing invoices is experiencing a transformation driven by the use of automation technologies in accounts payable, which means new technologies and processes. This results in a new way of working, that requires a new skillset for accounts payable professionals.
When challenges such as manual data entry, human errors, time-consuming supplier communications, and others start to fade, new ones may arise. We then ask ourselves, what skills does my team need to succeed? From data analytics to automation, accounts payable agents should quickly learn about the software and have or develop the following skills.
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 might be long-serving staff who are used to traditional processes, and not skilled at using new technology, data, and software
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:
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. As invoices (including exceptions) are processed quickly and efficiently with automation solutions, agents will have free time to focus on strengthening the relationship with their suppliers.
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. Involve your team in the process of strategizing, defining actions, and potential challenges, so they develop ownership and fully understand 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. This feature makes it easy for AP agents to set up rules and modify them by themselves (with appointed rights), which translates into higher autonomy and independence from 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:
By acquiring a deeper knowledge of the business processes, and optimizing the use of the information provided by your accounts payable automation tool, AP agents will be invited to think strategically. As a result, greater business effectiveness will be achieved.
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
As accounts payable departments implement new tools such as invoice automation, AP leaders will be in charge of deciding how they want to address the change, its requirements, and the consequences. It is crucial to bear in mind that the absence of action, and negligent change management, will bring negative consequences. By proactively addressing the challenges of the new skillset required for accounts payable professionals, AP leaders will increase the chances of 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.
Would you like to know more about how Cevinio can impact AP productivity, help you grow in scale, and impact the business? Contact us