Breaking barriers – Uniting Accounts Payable with key stakeholders

Posted on October 27, 2023

What is the impact of treating accounts payable as a silo function within an organisation?

We’re exploring the importance of engaging with key internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, business operations, procurement, and the wider finance community.
Let’s break down the barriers and foster collaborative relationships for a stronger, more efficient financial ecosystem.

The Impact of Accounts Payable as a Silo Function

Accounts Payable is often seen as an isolated department focused solely on processing invoices and making payments. However, this silo mentality can have several negative consequences on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of an organisation:

1. Missed Opportunities for Cost Savings: When Accounts Payable operates independently, it may miss out on identifying potential cost-saving opportunities in supplier contracts and payment terms. Collaborating with procurement and finance teams can lead to more favourable arrangements and improved cash flow.

2. Lack of Transparency: Siloed functions can lead to a lack of transparency and communication between departments. This can result in delayed invoice processing, disputes with suppliers, and ultimately harm business relationships.

3. Increased Errors and Fraud Risks: A lack of integration with other departments may increase the likelihood of errors and fraud. Engaging with stakeholders ensures multiple sets of eyes on financial processes, mitigating risks.

Engaging with Key Internal Stakeholders

1. Procurement Collaboration: Establish a regular feedback loop between Accounts Payable and Procurement teams. By involving AP in the procurement process, they can provide insights on supplier payment preferences and help negotiate better terms.

2. Business Operations Integration: Work closely with business operations teams to understand their requirements for timely payments. Regular meetings can help identify recurring issues and improve the invoice approval workflow.

3. Finance Team Synergy: Foster collaboration between Accounts Payable and the wider finance community, such as the General Ledger and Treasury teams. This collaboration enhances visibility into financial data and ensures accurate cash flow management.
Strengthening Relationships with External Stakeholders

· Supplier Engagement: Engage with suppliers beyond payment-related matters. Building strong relationships can lead to more flexible payment terms, early payment discounts, and a steady supply of goods and services.

· Clear Communication: Maintain an open line of communication with suppliers to address payment concerns promptly. Being transparent about payment timelines and any potential delays fosters trust and reliability.

Breaking Down Silos – The Way Forward

1. Cross-Departmental Meetings: Organise regular meetings involving representatives from different departments, including Accounts Payable. Encourage discussion on challenges and opportunities to promote a culture of collaboration.

2. Technology and Integration: Invest in integrated financial systems that connect Accounts Payable with other departments. Shared access to data ensures real-time information exchange and reduces duplication of efforts.

3. Training and Skill Development: Offer training programs to Accounts Payable teams, enabling them to understand the broader financial landscape. This empowers them to contribute meaningfully in cross-functional discussions.

By breaking down the silo mentality and actively engaging with key stakeholders, Accounts Payable can become a strategic player within the organisation. A collaborative approach not only enhances financial processes but also strengthens relationships with suppliers and fosters a more unified and efficient finance community.

Let’s embrace this change together and pave the way for a more interconnected and successful organization.