Fortifying Your AP Department for the Future

 
By Mekorma Sales Consultant Karen Wainwright

August 30, 2018

Both personal and organizational growth plans are not only nice to have, but mandatory in these competitive times, even in Accounts Payable departments. We at Mekorma would like to share some of our findings with you to support your efforts and vision for the future.

Give some thought to these three major subject areas.

How is your staff resourced and trained?

Think about how battle-ready your team is. Do they have access to networking with peers? While you might be well-ensconced in the Dynamics GP space with their user group called GPUG, perhaps it would be beneficial to look at other industry organizations such as APP2P . This is the Accounts Payable & Procure-to-Pay group which not only has a web site chock-full of articles, blog posts, learning opportunities, but they have their semi-annual conference in November in Las Vegas. Three folks from Mekorma will be attending and they will brief you on their findings after the show on the Mekorma blog site.

LinkedIn is also providing many learning resources these days. At this writing, there were 55 possible courses to take when “Accounts Payable” is entered in the search field. See for yourself what is offered for credit cards, funds transfer, etc.

Getting back to GPUG, keep in mind that their Academy courses are taught by seasoned GP professionals. They offer boot camps, webinars and a great deal of assistance in chapter and Special Interest Group (SIG) forums. If you are a member, the on-line forums are part of the membership, so why not use them?

Another learning resource is all the free courses online provided by top schools such as Stanford, Harvard and Yale. Simply search in your favorite browser for your favorite college, find your courses and sign up. Coursera and edX are the top sites that serve as a clearinghouse for all online courses.

What really is your strategy?

Let’s think about it for a moment. This topic may be geared towards management or executives, but your staff would love to know your direction if you haven’t shared it already. According to a recent Inc. magazine article1, the first reason employees want to quit is that their strengths are not recognized. The second is poor communication within the team and the third is not sharing information. All these issues can be easily resolved with communication. Your AP team wants to work hard for you. It’s in their blood. Share your strategy and how they can contribute to give them a sense of accomplishment. Get them fired up for the future!

Beyond the communications topic, there are other considerations. Do you have a written plan for any governmental/regulatory changes? Have you spoken with Customer Service to ensure that vendors are paid on a timely basis to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain? Have you thought about metrics or analytics, now known as Business Intelligence (BI) and/or Corporate Performance Management (CPM)? At a minimum, what is your strategy to take advantage of discounts or volume pricing? Have you communicated this to your team?

Do you have the proper tools?

Whether it’s manufacturing, construction, hospitality…all employees have a reasonable expectation for the proper tools to get the job done well and on-time. Are you still using paper in your AP process? Do you still enter invoices manually? Are you tracking the issues in your process and how/when they are targeted for resolution? Do you use OneNote, Microsoft Teams or any other collaborative software? At a minimum, is there an instant messaging application installed on everyone’s machine, like Skype? The concept of frequent communication and not working in silos can’t be emphasized enough.

Conclusion

It boils down to training, strategy and tools. These are the building blocks to create a solid AP department and may seem basic to most people, but they serve as a great reminder that you have wonderful resources at your disposal, so that you can have a world-class AP department in the future.
 

1Why Do Employees Really Quit Their Jobs? Research Says It Comes Down to These Top 8 Reasons