Blog / AP Automation July 11, 2022

Understimulated and Overworked: How to Save Your AP Team from Burnout and Increase Engagement

A recent PYMNTS survey found that 43% of accounts payable functions are manual or paper-based.

Courtney James

A recent PYMNTS survey found that 43% of accounts payable functions are manual or paper-based.

Much has changed for employees over the past two years; this includes accounting and finance teams who helped keep their companies afloat during a crisis and continue to lead through uncertainty and external pressures successfully. 

In many cases, these overstretched professionals are simultaneously encountering feelings of stagnation and boredom with their daily tasks. According to Gallups’ research, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. declined for the first year in more than a decade. Furthermore, the most significant declines were in clarity of expectations, being equipped with the right tools, and lack of opportunity for workers to do what they do best. All of which are foundational to employee engagement.

Manual Processes Obliterate Workplace Joy 

From time spent searching for missing documents and correcting errors to manual reconciliation of invoices, there is an overwhelming amount of manual processes for the accounting team. As a result, accountants can easily find themselves wading through 80-hour weeks and living out what feels like an ongoing loop. For many, weekends and evenings are non-existent as they are required to stay connected to ensure they don’t fall behind. 

A recent PYMNTS survey found that 43% of accounts payable functions are manual or paper-based. The average team can take up to an hour to process a single invoice, 11 days to close monthly accounts, and 13 days to close quarterly accounts.

Low-performing tech makes big promises but delivers underwhelming outcomes 

Research from Microsoft shows that 42% of finance leaders struggle to keep pace with the demands of their business. Unfortunately, the odds of collaborating and contributing to higher-value projects are just as low for the teams battling low-performing technology. 

Daily functions like invoice auditing and approvals, communication with vendors, and payment remittance, for example, are crucial to operational efficiency but leave little time for the team to participate in other ways. By investing in modern finance tools, finance teams can save 800 hours per month and free up to 84% of their time on AP-related tasks. With more time, the accounting team can work on needle-moving activities like cost optimization or supporting other business units. 

Real-time automation can accelerate the journey from procure-to-pay. Yet, the key to deploying a finance solution your team will benefit from and enjoy using starts with working with the right technology partner. 

It is the finance leader’s job to know how to vet technology vendors effectively. Unfortunately, with many options in the market, it is easy to invest in technology that underdelivers and disrupts your team’s workflows.

Don’t be fooled by legacy software rebranded as cutting edge. According to Microsoft, many CFO-led teams continue to operate in the dark ages, stumbling over the same issue business applications pledged to solve decades ago. To ensure you are equipping your team with the right tools, finance executives must carefully assess digital investments for their accuracy and scalability. 

Here Are 3 Tips for Choosing an Automation Solution 

Source a flexible solution to meet your specific needs

Every finance team’s processes and business use case is unique. Confirm with your potential technology partner that their solution supports custom rules. With the ability to create custom rules, your team can manage high-volume variable cost invoices at scale and audit according to their unique requirements. 

Ensure that invoice reconciliation and approvals are truly automated

Accounting teams are looking for ways to minimize time spent on tedious tasks like invoice auditing and approval. The wrong technology could mean your AP team spends more time correcting issues and discrepancies. The right automation solution will minimize human involvement in invoice discrepancies and streamline your team’s document processing. 

Invest in preventative technology 

Above anything else, automation should always be preventative. Ensure the vendor can demonstrate how their technology eliminates invoice discrepancies and verifies contractual compliance before payment. Preventing overpayment in real-time will save your team from expensive and exhaustive disputes.

Experts continue searching for answers to solving talent shortages and improving retention, but the answer to enhancing retention within the finance function is straightforward. Increasing engagement and productivity requires opportunities for teams to break free from monotony and contribute to the organization’s future in more fulfilling ways. 

Allow technology to take over where it can so your team can contribute in ways only humans can drive impact through creativity and innovation. 

About OpenEnvoy
OpenEnvoy enables finance teams of all sizes with visibility, automation, and cash flow solutions. To learn more about how OpenEnvoy can help you prevent wasted spend, visit https://www.openenvoy.com. Read more at Future FinOps or follow @OpenEnvoy on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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