Blog|3 min

Agile AP: Responding to Sudden Change

Mary Roach
BILL, Senior Director, Product Marketing

As 2020 has shown us, life can change quickly. In order to succeed, it’s crucial for your business processes to be able to adapt to these sudden changes just as swiftly.

Are your AP processes capable of adjusting to new, rapidly changing demands as we emerge from the pandemic and enter the next normal?

If not, the time to implement new processes is now. As the world continues to be full of uncertainty, has the tools to help you navigate it.

How COVID-19 Upended AP

The shift to remote work and the need to figure out how to keep businesses running smoothly from the scattered homes of our workforce sent many critical business processes into a state of upheaval. AP is a perfect example.

The traditional AP process is well-known to any midmarket AP professional: 

From gathering invoices and capturing their information → getting approval → actually paying the invoices → and entering invoice, notes, and payment information into the accounting system. 

What wasn’t well-known, however, was how quickly that process would need to change in 2020 as the pandemic set in.

As soon as everyone started working from home, collecting invoices and getting them approved were anything but a seamless process. Even just locating mailed invoices required having someone go to the office in the middle of a pandemic, suited up in PPE and ready to disinfect everything.

Once the invoices were retrieved, companies resorted to creative ways of getting them approved and checks signed to pay them. In some cases that meant employees acting like messengers and physically going to the houses of the people who needed to approve and sign things. In other cases, companies hired Lyft drivers to transport stacks of invoices around to the relevant parties.

While these solutions were innovative and got the job done, they weren’t sustainable, agile or positioned for growth.

Agility for the Next Normal

For companies that previously avoided automating their AP, the pandemic has highlighted every reason to make the switch. 

With, invoices are received electronically, invoice information is gathered and sent for approval, payments made once those approvals are obtained, and all the information is organized and reconciled in the system – all without PPE, taxis, or even seeing other employees in person. Companies can still maintain whatever separation of duties they require while eliminating manual work from every step of the AP process. Invoices can be submitted by a vendor electronically and paid electronically. If a check is required, prints it directly from a account and sends it on your behalf, eliminating any past hurdles with getting signatures.

While manual processes have been upended in recent months, automated processes for the most part have worked seamlessly, largely due to the ability to quickly tweak them as new roadblocks appeared. Automation is the first step in achieving agile AP that can quickly adjust processes or policies when circumstances change.

In addition to adapting quickly, your AP system should be able to make any necessary adjustments without having to rely on your IT department for back-end changes before new policies or protocols can be put in place. Even as we try to prepare for the next normal of doing business, we continue to live in uncertain times. The new processes you put in place today may need to change yet again in the near future as demands continue to shift. Automated AP from eliminates manual processes and puts you in full control of your AP function.

Going forward, midmarket companies will continue to be asked to do the same work, only faster. While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, it’s fairly certain that AP will constantly be expected to function faster and with fewer resources. Accomplishing that is the definition of agility, and makes it possible.


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