Chapter Four: How AP Automation Helps CFOs, Controllers and AP Managers

Learn how AP automation benefits each role.

The challenges that CFOs, controllers, and AP managers face differ because of their special responsibilities. And the ways AP automation helps them overcome their specific hurdles also vary. Here’s a look at these differences.

CFO

As you know, the CFO is the top financial leader at the company who takes a strategic, high-level view when focusing on AP systems. 

Main Objective of CFO: Growth

Increasing revenues and profits is typically the main objective for a CFO, along with managing cash flow. While paying bills – the essence of AP automation – is not going to directly grow the bottom line, it’s a necessary focal point in a growing company.

As you know, CFOs need to identify whether the company is positioned to handle growth. For example, does the AP manager have the tools needed to scale and add more invoices each month without a process breakdown? CFOs can help figure out and decide how the company can grow faster and more profitable using automated AP.

Freeing Employees to Spend More Time on Strategic Projects

Building on these responsibilities, the CFO also knows that one of the more difficult challenges in corporate offices today is employees spending too much time on time-consuming manual tasks.

Using AP automation, manual tasks are removed so these employees have more time in their days to be business advisors, financial analysts and internal controls specialists.

Accuracy of Data is Crucial

Yet the CFO’s responsibilities don’t end there. This executive needs to make sure there’s enough cash in the bank, bills are paid and taxes and financial reports are correct and filed on time.

To make sure everything happens on-schedule, the CFO needs accurate data. An automated AP system that generates accurate payment and invoice information helps reduce uncertainty from the CFO’s business decisions.

AP Automation Frees Up Time for CFO to Focus on Higher-Level Strategic Initiatives

As a big picture, cross-business visionary and strategist, it’s this executive’s job to make sure the AP department does not get siloed off from others. The CFO needs to make certain the AP team tightly collaborates across departments such as accounting, finance and operations.

With smooth-running automation and a trusted team, a CFO will have more time to focus on strategic initiatives.

 

How AP Automation Benefits Controllers

There are a few key distinctions between a CFO and controller. While the CFO focuses more on high-level connections between AP and the rest of the company, the controller spends more time on how AP integrates with and enhances the rest of the finance organization.

Although more narrowly focused than the CFO, the controller’s job also comes with broad and sophisticated challenges.

For the controller, AP automation improves visibility into cash flow, maximizes audit efficiency, speeds up quarterly and year-end closes and helps attract and retain talent.

Key: Focusing on High-Value Projects

In collaboration with the AP manager, the controller should focus workers on high- value-add projects that will lead to measurable corporate growth results. Moving from paper to automation is a big step towards achieving that goal.

Controller Understands Connection Between Invoices and Overall Corporate Outlook

Overseeing AP and accounting, the controller understands the connection between invoices coming into the company and the bigger accounting picture and corporate financial outlook.

Automating accounts payable increases accuracy and lowers risks of payment delays and associated expenses. 

Benefits of AP Automation to AP Managers

Joining the CFO and controller on the corporate finance team are AP managers who direct the day-to-day AP functions. These people understand how the AP department ticks at a much deeper level.

From a personnel standpoint, the AP manager wants to help team members grow and succeed while taking on more work and processing invoices in less time.

In terms of professional growth, this leader has the most to gain from AP automation because the technology’s benefits make it possible to increase productivity while giving employees opportunities to do more strategic and intellectually stimulating work.

Automated AP helps AP managers direct their teams to do high value tasks and projects while avoiding time-consuming, manual task.

There are other benefits. This automated process helps AP managers respond to higher level executive requests quickly. When business department leaders and higher-level financial leaders want AP information, such as which invoices are currently in progress and forecasts on what will be paid over the coming weeks, the AP manager becomes responsible for the answer.

If responding to an ad hoc payment or invoice request in the world of paper AP, this could take hours or a full day. With automated AP solutions, the AP manager can simply log in to the online portal and quickly get the needed the answers.

AP Automation Unites Workflow of Entire Team

With all these issues in mind, AP managers, working with CFOs and controllers, need to face head-on the challenging decision of whether or not to invest in automated AP. To make the smartest decisions, they should consider if the people on their team can quickly pick up tasks where others left off and efficiently handle anything that comes across their desks or inboxes.

If the answer is no, AP automation can help. One automated system can unite the workflow of team members.

Keep in mind: The AP team is an important team for avoiding overspending and fraud and improving customer, vendor and supplier relationships.

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