It’s nearly 2019. Our home lives have changed so significantly and so have a lot of our work lives.
If you work for a worldwide conglomerate, chances are your budget has allowed you to make these changes over the past 10 years. Smaller companies are only now seeing the move into digitalisation as a realistic achievement, with the advent of the cloud and new software pricing possibilities. As more and more companies look to automate business processes, they gravitate to the easiest starting place for automation meaningfully on a large scale, the accounts payable clerk has a new role.
The Data Entry Revolution
Originally, an Accounts Payable Clerk’s role was all about data entry.
Showing up to work with a pile of invoices on one side of the desk. Slowly making their way through them as they manually input data from sheets of paper into a finance system.
Leaving at the end of the day having moved the pile to the other side of their desk mentally noted as the “processed pile”.
It was a humble, but necessary job for any business to operate. Thankfully now data entry is becoming less and less a part of every day life for the Accounts Payable Clerk.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can be traced back to 1914 and has been evolving ever since. OCR is now becoming commercially available for many small businesses as cloud technology negates any expensive on-premise installation costs.
In fact, OCR itself is already being replaced by newer technology such as ICR utilising AI and Fuzzy Logic to generate even greater benefits to organisations of all sizes.
Since data entry was such an integral part of an Accounts Payable Clerk’s role, automating that would make the job redundant, right?
From Data Entry to Data Manager
Now the joyless task of data entry has been eliminated from the Accounts Payable Clerk’s repertoire, they can now take the time to sit back and look at the bigger picture.
Modern DataViz technology makes big data analytics accessible to IT beginners.
Whether it’s tracking down which supplier sends in the most invoices with mistakes on, or checking how many invoices have gone straight through to your ERP without any intervention.
It’s as simple as clicking on charts and graphs to drill down even further into analytics.
This can go even further, access to even more data that has already been worked through by machines can give business insights that we may not even have considered so far.
Who knows what business benefits could be found just by having time to focus on what your data is telling you, not acting on what you think it should say.
Supplier Relationship Management
With less time to spend on data input, an Accounts Payable Clerk can now work on building positive working relationships with suppliers, developing early payment discounts, communicating issues with invoices, and confirming the most efficient invoice formats.
Even with a Supplier Portal informing suppliers at what stage the invoice is at and whether it has been marked as paid, supplier relationship management is one area where an Accounts Payable Clerk could have a significant impact on a company bottom line. Since a 1% discount is much more preferable than any amount of late payment fees.
Supplier master data is generally a touchy subject when it comes to Accounts Payable, since it is usually the last thing looked at when digitalising the Accounts Payable process.
On average, 20% of master data changes each year. This could be addresses, company names, payment details etc.
Whilst shared supplier master data resources are available to businesses, if, however, your company has not opted for this technology, someone will need to periodically update and validate the information, or you could be paying the wrong supplier!
Every time a manual change is made to Supplier Master data this opens your organisation up to another instance of potential fraud, without tight controls in place.
So, what can an Accounts Payable Clerk do with no Data Entry?
Transforming Accounts Payable from the cost centre of a business to a profit centre should be on every company’s to-do list.
Bringing monetary gain to an organisation isn’t always an easy thing to do. Hence the importance of positive supplier relationships.
Data entry tasks negatively impact a company’s bottom line as well as an employee’s motivation.
Instead of being paid to pay someone else money, the Accounts Payable Clerk’s role is transforming to an equally important, business beneficial role, as a potential stepping stone into the world of Financial Accounting.