Creating our own cycle of change in Accounts Payable

Posted on October 27, 2023

With AP Appreciation Week finished for another year, we are taking the time to reflect on what was a successful and thought-provoking five days.

Last Tuesday, we were joined by over 100 Accounts Payable and P2P professionals in Oxford for one of our biggest events of the year, the AP & P2P Forum. Over the course of the day, we were led by special guest panels in identifying the barriers we face within the community, how technology can be used to tackle those obstacles, and what we can expect for the future.

As the scene was set for the first panel of the day, the audience quickly identified an often fraught relationship between Accounts Payable departments and P2P as a reoccurring barrier. Steered by the session host Philip Spence, each panellist was able to describe how they have been able to work alongside their procurement teams and finance departments, developing a working relationship and ensuring communication. Sometimes it is about winning hearts and minds to ensure that relationships can thrive’.

For the second panel of the day, Max Kent of PSL led the debate on ‘The Ostrich Effect’, avoiding change and technology to the detriment of a business. Many attendees revealed that resistance to the ‘new’ usually stemmed from fear of job security, with anxiety that automated technology reduced workloads and the necessity for staff. With a refreshing take on a common problem, delegates revealed how they had successfully overcome this. By communicating the benefits of new systems and highlighting how reduced manual work could allow for more time analyising and improving processes, they were able to effectively implement new systems with the support of their staff. Echoing similar sentiments to the first panel, it highlighted how communication was once again essential, whether between teams or internally.

Throwing it back to earlier days in his career, automation expert Jethro Elvin of Basware shared an interesting example of how fostering positive relationships was paramount. Explaining his time spent visiting suppliers, Jethro recalled working alongside the Mersey River with factory workers, filling Jammie Dodgers with hungry wasps swarming around. Being able to understand the processes of these workers, and the problems they faced, helped Jethro to develop a stronger working relationship with that supplier. Almost 20 years later, Jethro remains a strong advocate for putting yourself in another’s shoes.

Our special guest speaker spoke of his experience becoming a World Champion and Olympic athlete twice-over, providing attendees with the drive to conquer their dreams. . To change our perception of success into a reality, we must consider all that we need to achieve and the steps required to get there. The inspiring session questioned, ‘How can we instigate our own success, and how can we facilitate our own cycle of change?’

So, what can we take home from the AP Forum?

As AP teams across the country celebrated each other and their profession during AP Appreciation Week, it is clearer than ever that the drive to change and elevate our profession is there. But how can we facilitate this change ourselves?

The AP Forum provided some essential take-home messages, that we can champion ourselves, and with perseverance, we can create our own cycle of change. So why not give the following a try and see where it can take you?


Whether we are liaising with suppliers and customers, working with other departments or speaking to team members, ensuring we communicate effectively is essential for developing positive working relationships. Taking the time to get to know one another personally and professionally can help us sympathise with one another and adapt to a more cooperative way of working.

Learning and Developing

Recognising our limitations at work can sometimes be the hardest challenge, however, learning from our mistakes and working on our weaknesses can often have the biggest positive impact. With the launch of software such as ACT, which enables AP teams to analyse where there is room for improvement and then tailor their training accordingly, it is now easier than ever to develop professionally and streamline a department.


For the last session of the day at the AP and P2P Forum, the discussion moved to the future of Accounts Payable and the workforce of tomorrow. Inspiring the next generation of AP professionals and instilling them with the same passion for the industry is essential for continuing the progress we have made as a collective. By encouraging more newcomers to consider Accounts Payable as a long-term career in which they can progress, we can help to continue raising the standards and perception of the industry.