ITESOFT Insider View – With Stewart Griffiths – Data In AP

How is data impacting AP?.

Join us as we talk with Stewart Griffiths APAM, exploring how new technology is driving more data, and the impact of data in AP.

Comparing old analytical processes to the latest DataViz tools, data in AP has changed, there is more of it available than ever before. What’s the impact?

Watch the video, listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.

Part 3 of 4.

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The transcription – Data – Seeing the AP impact.

Rory Coleman-Smith: Welcome back to another episode of ITESOFT Insider View. I’m joined, of course, by Stuart Griffiths…

Stewart Griffiths: Thank you Rory

ITESOFT-VLOG-Insider-View-Data the ap impact

Rory Coleman-Smith: Thanks for joining us again.

So last week we talked about collaboration and now we are going to be talking about data and seeing the AP impact.

So how do you think data is becoming more of a part of the AP role?

Stewart Griffiths: I think that today data is definitely one of the main drivers for assisting AP Managers.

So, back in the day, who looked at data?

Nobody.

Because maybe there wasn’t any, and nobody knew how to get data on, even the number of invoices that you put into the system… Who knew?

But, I think today, the way you can extract data from your ERP systems, how you can manipulate data, how data can help you to drive insight into bottlenecks in your process, to identify failing areas in terms of issues around invoice processing; insights on performance, team performance, individuals, department areas, sections, you know, I think data is key to everything that we do within AP at the moment.

Data Analytics – Driving Benefit

Rory: As you mentioned, in the past, you couldn’t get data, and you said you use data for measuring performance, but how does that then equate to then being a better department?

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Stewart: Well, when you talk about performance, you know, every area has its own KPI’s.

You have a business KPI, you have a department KPI, but whatever you are measuring you need data to measure it.

So, how do you get that data, and then, what are you going do with it? And how are you going to manipulate it to give you the results that you are looking for?

And give you the insights that you are struggling to get?

So, data might, for example, in my business, you know, we like to look at areas of bottlenecks.

So where are things sitting and why are they sitting there?

At the moment I don’t have a glitzy ERP system that tells me exactly where invoices are, or what areas they are sitting in.

So I have to do some manual manipulation, data from one area, data from another area, merge the two and then miraculously do one of my Excel pivots and there you go, I have the answer.

And it instantly tells me where those bottlenecks are.

From there it’s a case of, OK, dig a bit deeper, who exactly within those areas is causing me an issue. And then, from there, what are you going to do about it?

What’s the action?

So for me, that’s where I get data from , whereas today, you know, with software that’s coming out onto the market that might have pre written reports, that might have pre written information, there’s still going to be a need for AP Managers and AP teams to download data and manipulate it.

And I think that is a core skill set within AP today.

And maybe within any business but I know, you know, data is a driver for getting those insights, and I think that everybody that works in AP needs to have decent Excel skills.

100% you know, I love a V lookup and looking forward to X lookup… More to come on that Rory, but that’s the future.

Rory: Alright, I will sit on the edge of my seat on that one…

So, I guess now, I just want to touch back on, we were speaking a couple of weeks ago about the AP role.

Just really quickly, I guess part of the new skills for a new AP person is now how to take that data and know what you are looking for and know how to then use that data to improve your roles?

Stewart: Yeah, exactly, exactly, 100%.

You need to know what the data is and you need to know what it is that you want to improve and how you can use that data to improve it so I totally agree with you there Rory.

Rory: Great, so, “new analytics”.

Right, what’s your understanding of the term? I guess it’s a bit of a buzzword…

V8-P3-IMAGE-Slide-3-New-Analytics

 

Stewart: Yeah, I would say so, but I mean, you know, again, the whole piece around AP Managers and analytics is: you need to understand your data.

You need to understand what it is that it can give to you.

And then the whole piece around how we dig down into that.

And with new analytics that makes life so much more easier.

Rory: So what is the difference between new analytics and old analytics, if there was any old analytics?

Stewart: I think it’s the way the data is presented.

I think new analytics gives you that whole “bang there it is! You can spot it a mile away” whereas actually old analytics is about you manipulating it and then, if you do something wrong there, then you might get the wrong answer.

So new analytics is a sure, safer, way of giving you the answer to some of your issues.

Rory: Ok, so then, with this “new analytics”, how do you use that to drive the business forward, as a whole, outside of your AP department?

Stewart: Well, I think, again,  we touched on it in previous talks, AP is at the heart of the business.

It’s a case of what, how are we going to use this information, and presenting it, when you talk about the information that you are getting.

How detailed do you want it?

And I suppose, who are you presenting it to?

I think with new analytics it gives you the opportunity to present data in accordance with your audience because you can present information to non-finance people, you know, you’re talking to the finance people, you’re talking to the C suite, you know, it’s all about who needs to see it, and what story are you trying to tell with your data.

Rory: Yeah, so I suppose with the sort of, DataViz aspect of it you can see, you can visualise the data.

But you don’t have to then extract it, put it into a formula and then make a graph on Excel or whatever.

It’s there, it’s ready.. you know?

Stewart: A lot of my time is playing with numbers, playing with data.

And I think the quicker you can get the answer, again, the quicker you can make that change, the quicker you you have that insight to make that change, and the quicker you can inform other people.

So yeah I think it’s a massive thing, and again, you know, the it’s all about clean data as well.

What data have you got, where are you getting your data from, and can it be trusted?

You know, is there any duplicates, are there things in there that might make your data, your end result, wrong?

Rory: Well I suppose, were moving forward and into the future a little bit, talking about AI.

V8-P3-IMAGE-Slide-4-Data-Driving-Technology

And AI and AP sort of married together.

But I guess, for AI to work you need to put in the good data.

You need to have the good data in the first place to then let the computers understand it and work with it.

How, how would you go about putting good data into a system?

Stewart: Well, I always, whilst humans are here to stay, you know, I think, for me, getting rid of human input and maybe having those machines do that inputting for you is one way of having good data.

And then the other way is having forensic tools you know, I’ve been talking to a company who can provide information on AP forensics so, that’s to make sure that your data is clean.

And I know, maybe AP forensics is a conversation for later.

Rory: Definitely, I mean, that’s a whole other subject!

Stewart: But, after we’ve got our good data, after we’ve got our good data, I think AI and the way that it can help you manipulate that information is way beyond my thinking at the moment, but I think, for me, AI can help any business, and it’s how, I think, not when.

Rory: That’s good, but I think also a lot of people when they hear AI and other sort of similar terms, it kind of makes them a little bit scared.

Have you come across that?

People worried about… well I mean, you talk about bringing in the technology instead of the humans, right?

I mean have you had any backlash against that?

Stewart: Well, there’s that whole thing, “the robots are coming” and that whole piece around, “if I’m not going to input an invoice what am I going to do?” and that’s that whole piece, going back to value adding because those people can do other things.

So yes, I have had those people come back to me and say “why? Well what am I going to do?” but again, upskilling, retraining and understanding what the future looks like, and understanding and communicating that future.

The new future to those people should then, you know, help you to deliver the benefits within your business.

Rory: Communication I guess is…

Stewart: Yeah, so I don’t think AI is anything to be worried about, but it’s being clear on what it can do for your business…

Rory: Great, well that’s been another allotted time for our chat.

We’ll come back next week and we’ll discuss whether tech really is the future for AP.

Thanks Stewart for joining us.

Stewart: Loved it, looking forward to it!

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Post by John Stovold,
Marketing Manager ITESOFT

John Stovold has worked at ITESOFT since 2012. Driven by a desire to learn and educate John has used this to set himself up as a true thought leader in digital transformation of Accounts Payable and Finance. John really isn't that keen on writing in the 3rd person... But will when he has to.

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