Guest author: Mark Brousseau
​President of Brousseau & Associates

Who knows if key information has been captured, if data is properly organized, if information is timely, if systems are well-integrated, or if decision-makers can access key variables? 

Not surprisingly, a lack of visibility into invoices was the top AP challenge identified by nearly half (47.1 percent) of the controllers surveyed by IOFM in 2014.  Another third (36.8 percent) of the controllers surveyed by IOFM reported that difficulty finding or managing invoices and other paper payables documents was their AP department’s challenge.

Most AP departments lack visibility into organizational cash flow on a day-to-day basis, IOFM finds.

Yet managing cash flow against current and future expenses is the single most important metric to a controller’s job function, according to IOFM. Effective cash flow management helps controllers ensure timely payments, eliminates late fees, increases investable income and return-ratios, and reduces the need for borrowing and corporate debt.

Improving cash flow management is one reason that controllers are excited about AP automation

AP automation provides a range of tools that deliver improved financial visibility to controllers:

  • Interactive dashboards displaying information on cash flow and liabilities to suppliers
  • Visibility across business units through integration with ERP systems
  • Easy access to contractual terms and commitments
  • Comprehensive reporting, real-time invoice tracking, and detailed audit trails
  • Anytime, anywhere access by authorized individuals to archived invoices and data

The enhanced visibility provided by these AP automation tools supports cash management and analysis, helps ensure budget adherence, and drives contract compliance and spend management.

It is no wonder that 40 percent of controllers surveyed by IOFM in 2014 reported that improved visibility into invoices and other payables documents is the primary benefit of AP automation.