Guest author: Ellen Leith

So, over the course of the last three months APN has been talking to, interviewing and surveying around 150 AP, procurement and finance professionals to gain insight into the current trends and what they might mean for the industry as a whole. 
Despite some of the economic indicators becoming more positive in recent months, the background to business in the UK continues to be challenging. The survey has shown it to be one where access to cash remains constrained, with the potential for a corresponding risk to become embedded into the supply chain. It’s a situation not helped by the majority of respondents reporting average payment terms of up to 60 days. And of course, if this is the average, then clearly some will be far higher.
To some extent, many of the operational and process challenges faced by AP departments remain the traditional ones of cost reduction and keeping track of invoices – however, the whole area is in the process of a transformation – both in terms of access to new technology and by taking advantage of a new corporate culture. Most (61%) expected to be affected by the growth in e-Invoicing, with 32% recognising that the collaboration across P2P, together with the growth of cloud technology is likely to transform the way the operation is run in the future.
With the rise of enabling technology and job titles such as Global Process Owner and Head of P2P, the extent of collaboration across departments has changed dramatically over a few short years, and today more than 25% of respondents reported using shared KPIs across purchase to pay, ensuring and resulting in a more collaborative way of working. Done properly, it has the capacity to blur some of the old divisions and break down the barriers between departments, leading towards a transformation in the way we do business. Increasingly, for those who work in this way, they find themselves with real strategic influence within their organisations.
However the survey also exposed the rise of a potentially damaging knowledge gap, particularly within AP. Executive expectations have grown alongside the greater emphasis on data analysis and reporting, but in some cases this is not being matched by appropriate training or robust change management practices.

Find out more on this on-demand webinar.