For the past 16 years, Ardent Partners has surveyed finance professionals to gain insight into the current state of accounts payable, focusing on what’s keeping them up at night. And after a year of global disruption – which paralyzed many aspects of business – the latest results show that AP teams played a critical role in maintaining business continuity.

“In July, 2021, as many communities, businesses, and countries begin to turn the corner and emerge from the most severe COVID-19 restrictions, others have seemingly just entered very tough times,” said Ardent’s Bob Cohen in a blog post on the report. “This makes the immediate future of business, in general, and accounts payable, specifically, hard to predict. What is clear, however, is that the pandemic has already begun to make lasting changes that will affect future generations of AP professionals. It is also certain that when the pandemic finally ends, AP will be “Operating in the New Normal.”

One notable stat that emerged in this year’s report is that AP’s perceived value within organizations is at an all-time high. In fact, more than 67% of respondents stated that AP is either very valuable or exceptionally valuable. Previous reports had revealed an upward trend in this area as AP departments became more efficient and strategic. But during the pandemic, uninterrupted cashflow and visibility into cash positioning were essential to survival.

And as AP teams found themselves in new and remote working situations, the limitations of manual and paper-based processes became barriers to maintaining business as usual. This fueled the adoption of ePayables technologies at a pace that leapfrogged over previous years. ePayables is the term for solutions that incorporate technologies to automate invoice and payment processes. While the advantages are numerous – end-to-end payment visibility, stronger security, and greater efficiency – until this past year, adoption rates were sluggish.

“The state of AP in 2021 is stronger than ever with the majority of organizations impacted by the pandemic now coming out the other side with higher levels of automation and greater levels of stakeholder engagement and respect.”

Ardent Partners

Read the full survey report, The State of ePayables: Operating in the New Normal, for a detailed look at how AP departments responded to the dramatic shift in the way organizations were forced to conduct business. From navigating the logistics of working remotely, to fighting new, emerging fraud threats, to recommendations for future success – the report is an essential read for financial professionals looking to understand the dynamics of today’s accounts payable function.

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Posted by Germaine Lang

Germaine Lang is the Managing Editor of SmartPayments with a strong creative and technical writing background across many industries. She also works to engage customers and relate their experiences with vendor products and services, positioning them as innovative thought leaders.