BLOG

SUBSCRIBE

Agile, Resilient, Flexible: AP for the Next Normal

While the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably changed the way companies across all sectors and markets do business, most midmarket companies never really stopped operations through all the uncertainty. Instead, they were simply forced to find new, pandemic-appropriate ways to continue operating to meet the challenges of the times.

For most, that meant going remote and figuring out how to cut costs, reallocate resources and adjust processes. As these midmarket businesses slowly start to emerge into whatever the next version of normal will be, the lessons they learned from the pandemic are coming with them. Among the most notable for many companies has been the realization of just how important agility, resiliency, and flexibility are in both AP systems and a company’s AP function as a whole.

Traditional AP and Its Vulnerabilities

The accounts payable process is one that has long been time-consuming and plagued by manual steps that cause delays, inefficiencies, and the possibility for human error. 

  • First, someone needs to collect all the current invoices in one place and capture the information contained in them. 
  • Next, each invoice must be approved by someone else. 
  • After approval, all these bills are paid, traditionally by preparing a check that must be printed, signed, and mailed. 
  • The End? Nope. Now, all the work that went into paying it must be entered into the company’s accounting system and reconciled at the end of the accounting period.

At midmarket businesses, separation of duties can be critical for ensuring security and preventing fraud. The dilemma a vast majority of these businesses face is that they do not have enough finance staff to adequately separate the steps of an AP process. 

As work from anywhere with a disparate workforce has become our current reality, proper separation of AP duties involving manual tasks can threaten to cause a breakdown of the entire process.

The stories of glitches in the AP process during the pandemic – and the creative ways of getting around them – are endless: from someone having to go into the office, decked out in PPE, to disinfect mail, find invoices, and bring them home to other employees arranging to send bundles of invoices via a Lyft to get approvals or employees taking taxis to get CFOs to sign checks after printing them at home.

While those anecdotes might be amusing at first blush, they are real-life headaches for people during an already highly stressful time. Moreover, when you multiply them by 100 or more bills per week that need paying, the potential for the whole system to break down is very real. Even with the right know-how in place, the sheer volume and scale of AP at the typical midmarket company make antiquated AP processes not sustainable. 

AP for the Next Normal

Change is hard for any company and all too often leads to breakdowns in processes. The recent pandemic has been a clear example of that. As the past few months have shown, the next normal for midmarket business will require AP that’s agile, resilient, and flexible – AP that can adapt quickly, change significantly, and survive the unexpected if need be. Companies are returning to work on the heels of slashed budgets, layoffs, and other unexpected changes, all while facing increased scrutiny on expenses. At the same time, they are expected to pay invoices faster to meet increased collection demands from vendors while also maximizing cash availability.

Until now, ingenuity and sheer willpower have been the only things keeping AP running through all the uncertainty at many companies. 

Enter Bill.com: the AP solution designed for the future. Bill.com provides the automation and versatility your AP needs to survive whatever comes next.

We live in an uncertain world, and the next normal is full of unknowns. Bill.com is here to guide you to the light at the end of the tunnel by empowering the flexible, agile, and resilient AP you need to succeed.

Watch for more blogs on the topics of flexibility, agility, and resilience when it comes to AP.

 

October 23, 2020
Mark Gervase
Director, Product Marketing, Bill.com
Mark works with accountants and finance professionals to achieve efficiency and intelligence through automation. He is a former CPA with experience in public accounting and corporate finance and has a background in helping companies use financial technology. Mark holds an MBA and BA in Economics from the University of California Berkeley.