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Digital accounts payable trends to watch out for in 2022

by Jamie Radford

Technology is a major driving force that is shaping how the world does business. This push for technological innovation is impacting the landscape of multiple industries, including finance. The digitisation of companies is becoming a standard practice for brands looking to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

Accounts payable (AP) is an integral part of business finance that works to ensure that companies are effectively handling their financial obligations. Although traditionally performed using manual processes and physical documentation to function, the advent of digital solutions is changing that.

From the digitisation of accounting processes to the integration of automation, there are a number of emerging trends in AP to watch out for. In this article, we’re going to discuss some of these trends for 2022 to help your business stay informed and up to date with the latest industry developments. Keeping up to speed with these trends can help you integrate new finance practices into your business, helping it stay competitive and relevant in a constantly changing business landscape.

The rise of automation in accounts payable

2022 looks to bring much more automation with it for accounts payable teams. Software used for automating a number of tasks has already been developed and implemented to great success, so it’s only a matter of time before more companies adopt this innovative approach. Automation can help accounts payable in a number of ways, including:

• Form filling
• Invoice management
• Record keeping
• Invoice reviews and approvals

This level of automation can free staff up to perform additional duties, or streamline how the working day is tackled. Of course, relying solely on automation is a recipe for disaster, but intelligently implemented AP automation software looks to be a growing trend for the industry.

The transition to cloud-based solutions

There has been a notable increase in accounts payable solutions, with a growing trend of cloud-based formats. Unlike on-site solutions, cloud-based software is off-site and works through an online framework. This has a number of advantages including infrastructure cost savings and the ability to access the system from anywhere remotely. As the technology used in cloud-based solutions for accounts payable continues to develop, more companies will integrate it into their working practices.

Integrating AP solutions for collaboration

Working in tandem with the rise of cloud-based solutions, the trend of integrating AP software for collaborative purposes is growing in 2022. This is especially true for larger companies that use enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, as there is already an established framework for collaboration. Bringing in AP teams helps the company communicate with each other and work together more effectively.

There are a number of advantages associated with this type of integration and collaboration. AP teams are more prepared to work with other departments, such as manufacturing to improve how raw materials are sourced. The AP teams are also able to streamline how marketing departments sign off on campaigns or speed up the release of funds for sales teams.

The rise of remote working

Remote working has been a huge trend across many industries in 2022, largely due to the global lockdowns. More companies than ever are switching to a remote or hybrid model for working, which is equally true for the world of finance and AP. The ability to work remotely in AP relies on software and digital tools, so it’s important for accounting managers and those that work in AP to learn about this software to facilitate remote working.

The ability to work remotely offers a lot of benefits for the company and staff. The business will have a more flexible workforce, in some cases they may not have to renew a lease for office space and there is lower staff turnover due to the improved work-life balance. For workers, there are no more concerns about rush hour traffic or commute times, and they get to enjoy more autonomy in their working lives.

The push for stronger data security

The push for digitisation from companies has created a period of flux where some aspects of a company are online and other areas are still physical. This transitionary period is problematic for data security and integrity, as cybercriminals will target companies that aren’t prepared for a fully digital landscape. As a result of this, 2022 looks to push stronger data security for companies including the AP team.

One of the key areas that AP teams can strengthen their data security is by adopting AP software that incorporates strong security measures such as two-factor authentication or KYC procedures. This should work alongside training for finance teams so that they have a strong understanding of cybersecurity principles.

Incorporating data and analytics into AP

AP teams and finance departments are moving into the world of data and analytics, which looks to improve financial management for companies. This trend is already emerging in 2022, thanks largely to the development of digital tools for finance. The integration of automated reporting and intuitive online dashboards allows AP teams to gain a better understanding of cash flow for the business and expose areas that require support. Data analysis can even be automated to break down things like travel expenses for departments. This can help identify average staff expenditure which can set guidelines around extravagant or unauthorised expenses.

Fast-tracked digital payments

An increasing global trend is the ability to make digital payments to suppliers and other entities much faster for companies. The use of wire transfers and other forms of fast-tracked digital payments makes it easier to set up payments and it lowers the associated costs of manual payments such as printing cheques.

The ability to use different channels of payment for AP systems like payroll also offers greater flexibility for employees to receive salaries. This can make it easier for staff to receive their salary on time or in a way that suits them. It’s clear that the future of finance for businesses is shifting towards a more digitally integrated landscape.

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