Don’t Make Exceptions for Exceptions

In the recently released “ePayables 2015: Higher Ground,” Ardent Partners surveyed 175 leaders in the accounts payable and finance industry. The resulting report outlines some of the characteristics and capabilities of best-in-class companies, but it also lists priorities and challenges faced by many in the accounts payable industry.

The top challenge of those surveyed was “that the percentage of exceptions that must be handled is too high.” A total of 48 percent of those surveyed listed that as their foremost challenge.

Examples of these exceptions included seemingly simple things like missed zip codes and incorrect spellings, but also more serious issues like missing contracts and purchase orders.

One statistic in the report especially jumped out at us: “Over 17% of the typical company’s invoices cause exceptions.”

Shocking though that number is, many in the accounts payable industry probably resign themselves to such mistakes. If you have been entrenched in the manual, paper-based process for any length of time, you know that such mistakes are often simply bound to happen.

That doesn’t mean you should make exceptions for exceptions.

The types of exceptions listed above can be tough to spot or fix through a manual AP process. On the other hand, these exceptions – as well as countless others – are often non-issues after automating your accounts payable.

Any discrepancies between purchase orders and invoices will be noted right away, as will any errors on either of those two documents. You’ll be able to streamline your AP process so that you spend your time on higher-level tasks, not pursuing mistakes that should never have happened in the first place.

From their survey of industry leaders, Ardent Partners suggested that learning to better handle these exceptions is “a transformational strategy that can propel AP performance to the next level.”

In the chapter on best-in-class accounts payable leaders, they also noted the following:

“Best-in-Class AP operations have cut their invoice-exception rate in half by leveraging standardized capabilities, automating the entirety of the AP process, and adopting a strategic culture in which AP continually moves forward as a hub of intelligence.”

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