Significant business continuity plan gaps have been revealed, and 48% are accelerating their move to digital processes
Today, Strategic Treasurer and Deluxe release the results of the inaugural Modernizing Accounts Payable (AP) & Accounts Receivable (AR) Processing Survey. Results show the current status and trajectory of AP/AR automation, as well as the dramatic current and expected impacts of COVID-19 and the work from home environment on these departments.
The survey questions probed a number of specific areas, including the progress of digitization, the breadth of the process view in the organization out to trading partners, technology adoption and plans to spend, movement to outsourcing, and key drivers for each area. In addition, topics such as work from home (WFH), business continuity planning and the recent changes in those areas were investigated.
Top findings included:
1. The pandemic revealed gaps in business continuity planning and accelerated the move to digital processes: The WFH environment helped to identify significant gaps in AR’s business continuity plans. Meanwhile, 48% of respondents are accelerating their efforts to move to a more digital process for information and/or payments. AP, AR and treasury all indicate that the current situation has massively impacted their planning, strategies and actions, with a potential doubling of outsourcing imminent for AP and AR.
2. AR hyper-focused on efficiency through automation: While half of accounts receivable departments listed reduction in errors as a driver for automating their processes, a full 68% emphasized their need for efficiency. Working capital improvements, notably, ranked low.
3. AP and AR are simultaneously leveraging multiple technologies and outsourcing, but legacy mindsets may be holding some companies back: From RPA to OCR, AP and AR are increasingly employing multiple technologies to improve their processes. While these departments see the benefits of automation and outsourcing, such as resilience, risk and control, they also identified internal IT availability as a leading limitation preventing them from achieving high levels of automation.
4. Significant openness to WFH and new thinking needed for more end-to-end integration: Nearly 40% expect to allow permanent WFH for some or all staff after the virus minimizes. A more comprehensive process view is needed, as only 18% of AP and 14% of AR respondents expect more end-to-end integration in the near-term.
The survey ran during July and August. More extensive results from the survey are available via a downloadable report, an infographic, and a webinar today, September 22, at 11AM Eastern Time. The webinar features Dave Robertson of Deluxe and Craig Jeffery of Strategic Treasurer, and replays will be available on Strategic Treasurer’s website following the event.
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