The continued concerns of a possible recession, inflation concerns, and geopolitical instabilities create challenges for businesses and their associated finance teams.
As we near the end of the year, economic uncertainty continues to dominate many discussions. These challenges require finance professionals to be capable of adapting and responding to enhancing operations and informing businesses with accurate and timely financial information. Four key areas require attention for the remaining part of the year.
AR and AP Efficiency
While inflation trends are declining, there are still concerns about the future. This unpredictability requires companies to ensure maximum efficiency with their finance operations. Accounts Receivable (AR) processes must encourage on-time customer payments to improve cash flow and allow companies to take advantage of evolving opportunities. At the same time, Accounts Payable (AP) teams must be capable of managing vendor payments with a close eye on managing cash positions, maintaining supply relationships and taking advantage of possible payment discounts. This can be challenging if the necessary tools aren’t in place. AR and AP automation solutions are one way to enhance and simplify the process. They empower teams to make enhanced decisions by removing obstacles from customer payment processes, generating more transparency in the flow of funds and making it simpler to determine which vendor invoices to pay and when.
Talent Acquisition and Retention
Low employment figures continue to surprise economic analysts, which makes it challenging for people looking to attract and retain accounting and finance professionals. According to recent studies, AP employees were one of the finance jobs most in demand last year, which has continued into 2023. The increase and salaries and the shortage of quality AP staff accentuate the issues, making the battle for talent stronger than ever. 70% of employers believe their hiring problems will continue throughout 2023. This challenge, along with budget cuts, forced finance teams to depend less on adding headcount and explore other methods to reach their goals without damaging existing team members. To achieve this, many finance teams are shiting to AP automation. According to a 2022 MineralTree survey, over 60% of companies reach their output goals quicker, despite regular setbacks like limited headcount or budget. It also provides a vital opportunity to upskill their existing talent toward more insightful and strategic work.
Focusing on Finance Modernisation
As businesses look to digitise their operations, finance is often considered a top priority. The focus is transforming manual, paper workflows and retraining the workforce to high-value responsibilities in their daily activities. Senior leaders are, however, concerned with generating value with the added investment in new technologies. Digitising finance activities properly can generate considerable efficiencies and benefits for a business. If executed poorly, it can be costly and time-consuming for a business. To achieve their goals, finance leaders must clearly understand the gaps in current processes and prioritise activities that deliver the best value. AP is one priority area as it provides instant workflow efficiencies while supporting team manager spending, increasing cash flow and improving supplier partnerships.
Accurate Data Analysis
Most parts of business today can leverage data to enhance how to manage operations and increase profitability. Finance and AP offer valuable insights. Digitising and automating AP processes give companies better access to more data and information about invoicing and payments that can differentiate considerably how a business operates and performs.
AP data can determine which payment methods generate the most problems with suppliers, forecast spending and cash flow more efficiently based on historical data and predict possible fraudulent activities. Finance teams can prioritise information and transform AP into an insightful intelligence hub, making the role more critical by generating strategic insights into cash flow, management and operations.
To continue progressing and strengthening a business, finance teams must be proactive by investing in the appropriate technologies and automation tools to reduce inefficiencies and free up employee time. These technologies provide accessible financial data that provides a clear view of financial positioning and support decisions in business. Accounts Payable is an ideal place to start this process.