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E Payables Aberdeen Report Aug 2010


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E Payables Aberdeen Report Aug 2010

  1. 1. n io E-Payables 2010 ut The Strategic Value of Accounts rib Payable Automation st August 2010 Di Scott Pezza, William Jan ortf ~ Underwritten, in Part, by ~No
  2. 2. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 2 Executive SummaryFor Accounts Payable (A/P), the time is ripe for redefinition. Difficult Research Benchmarkeconomic times have heightened the need for cost-cutting efficiencies and Aberdeen’s Researchhave brought focus to the value (and current lack) of visibility into invoice Benchmarks provide an in-and payment status. In a paper-based world, A/P’s ability to meet these depth and comprehensive lookchallenges is severely hampered. As the economy continues its recovery and into process, procedure, nbusiness volume picks up, leading companies will be those who pursue methodologies, andstrategies to automate their back-office functions, opening up new areas for technologies with best practice identification and actionable iocost savings, cash management, and improved supplier relations. This studyexplores how enterprises of all sizes can derive efficiency gains from recommendationsautomation, and how these improvements enable them to better pursuestrategic initiatives. utResearch MethodologyAberdeen evaluated over 310 companies between March and April of 2010, Maturity-Class Framework ribin two surveys which together spanned the full payables process from Based on Key Performancereceipt through settlement. Top performing companies achieved: Indicators (KPIs), Aberdeen segments companies into: • Invoice processing costs that are, on average, 76% below their peers √ Best-in-Class: Top 20% of st performers • Invoice processing cycle times that are, on average, 82.5% faster than their peers √ Industry Average: Middle 50% of performers DiComparative Maturity Assessment √ Laggard: Bottom 30% ofAlthough large enterprises showed markedly higher maturity in terms of performerscurrent capabilities and adoption of available technologies, ultimateperformance was not so simply explained. Focusing on top-performing orrespondents, regardless of size: • 72% of Best-in-Class companies currently have an active accounts payable improvement initiative in place tf • 60% of Best-in-Class companies have standardized payment processes throughout their organizations • 59% of Best-in-Class companies have clear policies in placeNo governing the invoice receipt-through-payment workflowRequired ActionsIn addition to the specific recommendations presented in Chapter Three, A key starting point incompanies of all sizes should: improving accounts payable is, “Process restructuring - taking • Ensure that all interested stakeholders (A/P, Finance, Treasury, advantage of available Procurement, etc.) are involved in crafting payments policies, rather technology.” than taking a strict functional territory view ~ Margaret Anderson, • Catalogue existing repetitive, non-value-add activities to create a list Controller, PBM Products of potential areas for automation, centralization, or outsourcing© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  3. 3. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 3Table of ContentsExecutive Summary....................................................................................................... 2 Research Methodology ........................................................................................... 2 Comparative Maturity Assessment...................................................................... 2 Required Actions...................................................................................................... 2 nChapter One: All Payments, Great and Small....................................................... 4 Business Context ..................................................................................................... 4 io Setting the Stage: Revenue-based Analysis......................................................... 5Chapter Two: Taking a Closer Look ....................................................................11 Comparative Assessment.....................................................................................13 ut Capabilities and Enablers......................................................................................14Chapter Three: Required Actions .........................................................................20 Small Business Steps to Success..........................................................................20 rib Midsize Business Steps to Success .....................................................................20 Large Enterprise Steps to Success .....................................................................21Appendix A: Research Methodology.....................................................................23Appendix B: Related Aberdeen Research............................................................26Featured Underwriters..............................................................................................27 stFigures DiFigure 1: Common Pressures Driving Focus on A/P ............................................ 4Figure 2: Avenues for Invoice Receipt by Revenue Group ................................. 6Figure 3: Methods for Handling Incoming Invoices ............................................... 7Figure 4: Overall Payments Mix by Revenue Group............................................. 8Figure 5: Current Adoption of Supporting Technologies..................................17 orTablesTable 1: Comparative Performance by Size............................................................ 5 tfTable 2: Average Transaction Cost by Payment Type ......................................... 8Table 3: A Comparative Framework......................................................................13Table 4: Payment Methods Used by Supplier Type*...........................................19NoTable 5: Study Demographic Information .............................................................23Table 6: The PACE Framework Key ......................................................................24Table 7: The Competitive Framework Key ..........................................................25Table 8: The Relationship Between PACE and the Competitive Framework.........................................................................................................................................25© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  4. 4. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 4 Chapter One: All Payments, Great and SmallBusiness Context Fast FactsTraditionally, the Accounts Payable (A/P) function has been viewed as apurely tactical intermediary that ensures a company’s suppliers receive √ 72% of all received invoices npayment for goods and services delivered. The root of A/Ps problems can are paper-basedbe traced back to its dependence on paper and the resulting lack of visibility. √ 31% of corporations have ioWith over 70% of incoming invoices paper-based, the receipt and approval established electronicprocesses is completely manual for nearly 60% of responding companies, payments requirements as aand the bulk of payments made by paper checks, the average accounts standard means of utpayable department is awash in paper. It is not surprising that more than half conducting business with keyof all businesses surveyed have limited transparency into the A/P operations suppliersthat have the potential to help drive value across the enterprise. Thesections that follow present the current state of A/P functions, the cost ribimpacts of inefficiency, and outline how top-performing companies areleading the way in digitizing documents and automating processes forenhanced corporate performance and external collaboration.Payables Automation - Motivational Factors stWhether focusing on the receipt or payments ends of the accounts payable E-Payables Definedprocess, companies are responding to a common set of pressures drivingtheir focus on A/P process improvement. For recent respondents, two Aberdeen utilizes "e-payables" Dimotivating factors stand out from the rest: a directive from the C-level to as an all-encompassing term toreduce operational costs, and the negative impact caused by a reliance on refer to the automatedpaper documents (Figure 1). The latter item encompasses a lack of visibility processes associated with the Accounts Payable (A/P)into information residing on paper documents as well as stakeholder function, including invoicepushback due to the inefficiency of manually processing physical invoices. receipt and handling, or reconciliation and approval,Figure 1: Common Pressures Driving Focus on A/P disbursement scheduling, settlement (including Top-down Cost-reduction Mandate 55% confirmation and reporting), tf and internal and external Difficulty of Working with service support. 51% Information in Paper FormatNo Difficulty Managing Cash 24% Risk of Fraud 19% Impact of Process Inefficiency 14% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Percentage of Respondents, n = 318 Note: Respondents were asked to select the top two pressures for improving accountspayable in two surveys: Invoice Receipt and Workflow (n=152) and Global Payments (n=166) Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  5. 5. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 5Setting the Stage: Revenue-based AnalysisAnnual revenue can, at times, be a useful proxy for attributes such as “We are focusing attention onorganizational complexity, availability of resources, and maturity of process measuring DPO and findingand technological capabilities. It can also provide a common ground upon ways to lengthen the period.”which to analyze related groups of data which were collected separately. ~ Ronald Zilkowski, CFO,This study will utilize the revenue groups defined in Table 1 as a basis for Cuisine Solutionsexamining the potential options available to accounts payable professionals nas they seek to improve their departmental performance and aid theirorganizations in improving overall corporate results. ioTable 1: Comparative Performance by Size Definition of ut Mean Group Performance Revenue Group Small Businesses: $16.63 cost to process a single invoice Up to $50million in 17.9-day cycle time to process a single invoice rib annual revenue (receipt through payment scheduling) Mid-size Businesses: $16.44 cost to process a single invoice Between $50million and $1billion in annual 15.5-day cycle time to process a single invoice revenue (receipt through payment scheduling) st Large Enterprises: $14.01 cost to process a single invoice Over $1billion in 19.7-day cycle time to process a single invoice annual revenue (receipt through payment scheduling) Di Best-in-Class Companies: $4.84 cost to process a single invoice The Top 20% of 3.71-day cycle time to process a single invoice Performers in Aprils (receipt through payment scheduling) Payables Study or Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010At first glance, these results may seem counterintuitive. Larger enterprisesare more likely to be automated, so why is there such similarity in tfperformance between the groups? For larger enterprises, the overall resultsmask what they achieve when processing electronic invoices: costs of $6.61when they are PO-based, and $9.08 when non-PO. But the full story is a bitNomore complicated. For both midsize and large firms, their overallperformance is compromised by two main factors: processing times forexceptions (which require manual intervention) between one and three dayslonger than for small businesses, and higher total exception rates (anabsolute 3% higher for large, and 3.7% higher for midsize respondents). Thisserves to highlight an important lesson: successful A/P automation initiativesdo not simply rely on the electronification of payables transactions to yieldthe desired results - they maintain an eye on effective exceptionmanagement to ensure that the gains in one area are not dampened byinefficiency in another.© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  6. 6. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 6Paper, Paper EverywhereAs illustrated in Figure 2, for the vast majority of respondents, paper “The current process is veryinvoices are a normal part of the payments process. Indeed, for these manual. We’re looking tocompanies, paper-based invoices account for 72% of their total invoice reengineer process, eliminatevolume. Interestingly, large enterprises reported the lowest paper-based paper.”volumes (64%), followed by small (75%) and midsize businesses (81%). In ~ Thomas Dadmun, Viceaddition to P-cards, EDI/XML and Supplier Portals (shown in Figure 2), large n President, Adtranenterprises are also outpacing their peers in adoption of alternativeinvoicing methods, such as Evaluated Receipt Settlement (ERS), Electronic ioInvoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP), and supplier networks. In thisrespect, larger businesses are displaying a portfolio approach to invoicemanagement - accommodating a greater variety of submission methods thantheir peers. While this flexibility may expand the number of suppliers with utwhich connections are possible, it also threatens to increase the complexityof managing these relationships from the IT perspective (although thisprospect is outside of the scope of Aberdeens current research effort).Figure 2: Avenues for Invoice Receipt by Revenue Group 100% 94% 94% 93% rib Percentage of Respondents, n = 152 Small Midsize Large st 80% 75% 77% 73% 71% 67% 60% 53% 53% Di 50% 40% 31% 25% 22% 21% 22% 20% 13% 3% or 0% Regular Mail / E-Mail Fax Purchasing Electronic Supplier Paper Card data (XML, Portal statements EDI) tf (P-Card) Source: Aberdeen Group, April 2010The Document-to-Data SpectrumNoAs discussed in Aprils Invoicing and Workflow benchmark, the effort requiredto manage the received invoice varies depending on where it falls along thedocument to data spectrum. Figure 3 outlines the approaches respondingcompanies take when handling incoming invoices that have not beentransmitted as pure data. For the majority of all respondents, invoicesremain in physical form for the duration of the approval process. Standingout from small and midsize companies, a substantial number of largeenterprises noted converting paper invoices to electronic form at the end ofthe approval phase ("back-end document capture"), providing a digitaldocument that is more easily stored and located for future reference. While© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  7. 7. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 7this approach does ease the burden of future inquiries, it does not enable "We are currently undertakingvaluable efficiency gains during approval processing. a review of our finance systems to develop a road map for theIt is the front-end capture options, however, that introduce true next five to 10 years. This willperformance gains. For example, respondents who have implemented front- include identifying solutions andend document capture (creating a scanned digital copy of a physical invoice suppliers to then bring aboutto be used in the approval process) report invoice processing times 34% process change.”faster than those of companies who process invoices manually. Moving to n ~ Teresa Warren, Seniorthe pure data end of the spectrum, companies that convert scanned Finance Manager, J Ddocuments into usable data (through optical character recognition or similar Wetherspoon iotechnologies), report a 26% faster processing time than those that workonly with document images. utFigure 3: Methods for Handling Incoming Invoices Manual Back-end document capture Front-end document capture Front-end data capture Large Enterprises 25% 35% rib 15% 25% stMidsize Businesses 50% 8% 16% 25% Di Small Businesses 63% 9% 15% 12% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percentage of Respondents, n = 152 or Source: Aberdeen Group, April 2010After following the approval workflow - identifying the associated purchase “We are looking to getorder(s), confirming receipt of goods or services, verifying pricing, approval for funds to buy an AP tfquantities, and terms, etc. - the invoice is approved for payment. Of course, automation solution: upfrontthe cycle time impact of workflow automation should not be overlooked. scanning, routing for approvalResponding companies that had automated the entire receipt through via workflow and on-line approval and payment. We areNoworkflow process were able to advance to settlement nearly seven days also looking at supplier portalsooner than those with incomplete or no automation (12 days vs. 18.9, a and dynamic discounting37% advantage). The procedures and policies governing this portion of the capabilities.”process are discussed in more detail in Chapter Two. ~ Marie-France Poulaert, Manager Accounts Payable,Paying It Forward Canadian PacificIn a pattern similar to the examination of invoice processing above, Figure 4illustrates a more highly paper-based portfolio of payment types for smalland midsize businesses than for large enterprises. It is interesting to notethat the main areas of differentiation between small and midsize businessesand large enterprises is in the balance between check and ACH-based© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  8. 8. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 8payments. Overall usage of commercial cards, wire transfers, and othermiscellaneous payment methods is quite similar for all groups. Thisdistribution of payment types also brings up an important note: althoughsmall businesses cited the growing risk of payments fraud as a top pressuremore than twice as often as those in the other revenue groups (35% vs.16%), they also show the highest utilization rate of paper checks - thepayment type most often associated with fraud in Aberdeens May Global nPayments benchmark. While recognition alone will not remedy the situation,this should highlight that the selection (or enablement) of certain paymenttypes can have added benefits above and beyond faster processing times. ioFigure 4: Overall Payments Mix by Revenue Group ut Checks ACH Commercial cards Wire transfer Other Large Enterprises 30% 28% 12% 21% 8%Midsize Businesses 42% 18% rib 11% 21% 9% st Small Businesses 46% 17% 12% 15% 10% Di 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percentage of Total Payments Source: Aberdeen Group, May 2010 orBuilding on the discussion above, the choice of payment type affects notonly fraud potential and processing time, but when combined with type-specific transaction fees, can lead to a significant difference in totaltransaction costs. As shown in Table 2, below, the high cost of processing tfpaper checks is reason enough to seek a transition to electronic paymentmethods. Accepting those costs while also being subject to increased fraudrisk can truly be a lose-lose situation. Of course, this does not imply thatthe implementation costs of alternative methods are trivial -- but it shouldNohighlight the need to investigate the Return on Investment (ROI) case forelectronic payments, based on the business total payments volume andcurrent processing costs.Table 2: Average Transaction Cost by Payment Type Payment Method Cost Per Transaction Paper Paper Checks $7.15 ACH $4.72 Electronic Commercial Cards $3.96 Wire Transfer $9.86 Source: Aberdeen Group, May 2010© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  9. 9. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 9First Things FirstWhere, then, should an interested accounts payable professional look? “In my opinion, the bestSharing the insight of Michael Puskarich, CFO of Visiting Nurse Service, Inc., starting points for improvingit is critical to focus on your internal processes. "You must have your accounts payableprocesses straight first – before you can get others to adapt to you, you process are invoice scanning,have to make sure your processes are efficient. If you ask a vendor to give approval routing, and electronicyou better terms and then your internal process delay things, you are left filing.” nwith no room to negotiate in the future. If you streamline your processes ~ James White, Accountsfirst and then ask for any changes, your process changes may exaggerate the Payable Manager, Cole Hersee ioeffects of the changes you just negotiated. Even if you cannot get the Companychanges you wish, your process enhancements may yield a much betterlonger term effect." Chapter Two will provide a good discussion of what tokeep in mind when evaluating the current state of existing accounts payable utpolicies, procedures, and processes. Aberdeen Insight - The Proper Role of Accounts Payable rib Accounts payable is purely tactical, or so the traditional view holds. Its job is simply to pay for purchases made by those in other departments to support those activities that contribute to the business top line. Were this only a straw man argument, there would be no harm done. st Unfortunately, just as in some executives view, procurement can be whittled down to the department that merely facilitates the acquisition of goods needed by truly productive functions, so too is APs contribution overlooked and its potential untapped. But this can change. Di How, then, should A/P be viewed in the greater enterprise? What can it bring to the table, aside from receiving bills and printing checks? To provide a brief summary, here is a short list of A/P goals whose impact can be lost when looking only at entry lines on a P&L statement: or • Paying suppliers on-time. Alongside disreputable negotiation tactics, is there anything as damaging to supplier relationship management efforts as delay (or complete failure) in making payments? Lateness in one contract cycle may lead to more tf onerous terms in the next - if the relationship continues at all. To put this in perspective: if a key supplier conducts its own customer analysis, which side of an 80/20 decision would you likeNo to end up on? continued© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  10. 10. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 10 Aberdeen Insight - The Proper Role of Accounts Payable • Keeping everyone up-to-date. Just as suppliers benefit from timely responses to invoice and payment status inquiries, so too with internal colleagues in Finance and Treasury who can more intelligently make decisions based upon current and expected cash outflows from A/P. Without adequate communication, the n business loses its ability to control its payment schedule and to make informed decisions regarding priority, timing, and io alternative uses for existing funds. • Avoiding late payment penalties. In addition to damaging supplier relationships, late payments can also shackle the business ut with added costs. Timely processing in the A/P department can help to mitigate delays caused elsewhere in the organization (during approval in the procurement department, for example). Not everything is within A/Ps control, but lower task times by rib one group can add some slack to the overall process and help to stay within negotiated timelines for payment. • Capturing early payment discounts. This is, of course, just the other side of the penalty-avoidance coin. In this case, st however, adding slack is not the goal. In order to achieve the short turnaround required to hit the discount date (10 to 15 days, in standard terms) all stages of the receipt-to-payment process must operate efficiently. In organizations with heightened Di visibility and effective supplier communications, savings can be further improved with the utilization of dynamic discounting, where the buyer and supplier negotiate new payment terms mid- cycle, instead of being tied to the existing contract. or tfNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  11. 11. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 11 Chapter Two: Taking a Closer LookThe performance differences between revenue groups - and between those Fast Factsgroups and Aberdeens Best-in-Class performers in recent studies - are the √ Paper invoices account forresult of not only those high-level attributes discussed in Chapter One, but 83% of all invoices nalso of the specific capabilities and technology choices of the individual firms.These differences will be discussed to follow, following a brief examination √ Firms with clear policies in place are more likely toof one specific company that shared its own experiences implementing A/P io achieve payment processautomation. times 42% quicker than others Case Study — Imaging Brings Enhanced Visibility and Increased Financial Control to Loomis Sayles & Company ut √ 28% of corporations have a fully automated Procure-to- Loomis Sayles & Company LP is a financial investment company based in Pay or A/P automation Boston, MA. Serving the investment needs of institutional and mutual rib fund clients since 1926, it is one of the oldest financial services firms with equity and fixed income assets of more than $140 billion. The Vice President and Accounting Supervisor of Loomis Sayles, Daniel Garuti’s role encompasses the entire accounts payable process including Travel & Expense (T&E), as well as cash management. Like many Accounts Payable st (A/P) functions, Garuti faced a bottleneck of paper and coordination. Looking to improve visibility and control, the Vice President began to look more closely at its processes. He explains, “Part of the issue for us Di was delayed payments and accountability. Trying to figure out where the breakdowns were. Everyone was pointing the finger at Finance. The approval chain was archaic. Invoices were received by different divisions. With some people in the Boston office, the manager for approval based in San Francisco, an invoice took three or four days in transit before or returning back to Boston, if acted on immediately. Compounding matters, a couple of departments were delinquent in getting invoices in. We were also looking to be a little more greener, not produce as much paper, and thought imaging and workflow would help with that aspect.” tf With those goals in mind, Garuti evaluated several systems of automated invoice and workflow process, “One was a partner with our ERP, another company we knew of, and then we brought in our currentNo provider because we found it to provide the only accounting system with imaging capabilities at the time.” He asks poignantly, “Do you want an imaging tool or financial tracking that you can do imaging?” Loomis Sayles signed on with their technology solution provider in late 2005 and the implementation was completed in 2006. “We were upgrading our ERP system, so they had a short window of eight weeks to go live. They were able to send a live invoice in five days, and after some initial testing, we were ready to go live in six weeks.” continued© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  12. 12. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 12 Case Study — Imaging Brings Enhanced Visibility and Increased Financial Control to Loomis Sayles & Company With automation, Loomis Sayles was able to gain visibility, reign in late payments and create further efficiencies. Garuti focused on the different points in the invoice-to-payment process. One approach was to identify the vendors for which billing could be consolidated to reduce the n number of paper-based invoices into the company. Some suppliers generated invoices daily. Loomis Sayles had them change the frequency to weekly, and for those that were currently invoicing weekly, they io requested to change to a monthly basis, among other adjustments. Garuti recommends, “By breaking it down, invoice-to-scan shows what’s wrong with your process and your vendor’s process. Look at your own process ut first, but don’t negate the fact that your vendors could be causing some of the issues.” The next strategy was to examine the cycle time from statement date, rib Garuti explains, “From when invoices were cut to actually scanned into the system, there were big gaps. And from once scanned, the time from scanned to when paid, the process was even longer. We could track the full length of the invoice where invoices stood still for seven or more days. For instance, we found that people were on vacation.” Now the st system generates email notifications prompting reviewers into action and Loomis Sayles & Company instituted back-up procedures to escalate review and approval, cutting down the process time. According to Di Garuti, “By gauging the middle surrounding areas, we also found out who were our ‘bad people.’ The system enabled us to validate what were already aware of, and we started showing reports to all the departments to bring it to their attention.” With the imaging software, Loomis Sayles & Company was able to realize or significant improvements, reducing its invoice-to-pay cycle from 40 days to 15, while enhancing supplier relationships, “Our policy is invoice in, invoice out. We want to get payments out quickly, and keep our vendors happy. If we can pay more quickly, they will be a better partner to us.” tf Loomis Sayles & Company is also now able to capture early payment discounts previously hampered by the manual labor-intensive processes. The value delivered with imaging further created efficiencies and reducedNo redundancy enabling staff to focus on critical work. “I have been able to reallocate 30% of my main A/P time to other functions. My senior A/P person is doing fixed assets for me two days a week, 50% T&E, and the rest of the time is spent doing reporting and special projects. We didn’t want to reduce people, but we were looking to add somebody prior to implementation. With an automated system one can easily double volume and not affect staff because of the efficiency.” Automation is now enabling the A/P staff of Loomis Sayles & Company to provide timely, reliable information on the performance of the company, while also realizing green benefits.© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  13. 13. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 13Comparative AssessmentAberdeen Group segmented the response base into three groups, based on “Look at manual processes toannual revenues (as illustrated in Table 1). In addition to having common eliminate non-value added orrevenue levels, each group also shared characteristics in five key categories: duplicate tasks; automate(1) process (the approaches they take to execute daily operations); (2) where possible.”organization (corporate focus and collaboration among stakeholders); (3) ~ Kathy Tanner, Manager,knowledge management (contextualizing data and exposing it to key n Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.stakeholders); (4) technology (the selection of the appropriate tools andthe effective deployment of those tools); and (5) performance iomanagement (the ability of the organization to measure its results toimprove its business). These characteristics (identified in Table 3) serve as aguideline for understanding the performance achievements and ongoing utchallenges for these different classes of enterprises.Table 3: A Comparative Framework Best-in- rib Small Midsize Large Class Standardized payment processes across the organization 51% 60% 41% 60% Process Clear policies for invoice receipt-to-payment workflow 18% 35% 51% 59% st Current A/P improvement initiative in place 45% 45% 66% 72% Centralized data capture operations Organization Di 27% 33% 48% 42% Electronic payment requirements established as a standard means of conducting business with key suppliers 25% 34% 39% 45% Enterprise-level visibility into A/P (invoice receipt and Knowledge workflow) processes or 21% 41% 48% 48% Payment system integration with ERP or other financial enterprise application 25% 55% 67% 47% tf Alerts to notify managers of payments initiated above a threshold amount that should warrant management Technology attention 23% 33% 49% 30%No System-level controls for segregation of duties for each transaction 18% 35% 53% 54% Ability to measure invoice receipt-to-payment cycle time 14% 30% 29% 41% Performance Well defined metrics, incentives, and penalties applied to payments 13% 23% 37% 31% Sources: Aberdeen Group, Invoicing and Workflow (April 2010) and Global Payments (May 2010)© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  14. 14. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 14Capabilities and EnablersAberdeens analysis of this Comparative Framework reveals that largeenterprises display greater capability across multiple areas, though theiraverage performance is not substantially superior to their small and mid-sizepeers. The sections that follow examine these areas of difference, and offeran additional comparison with those companies that achieved Best-in-Classstatus in this years two previous Aberdeen payables studies. nProcess ioAccounts payable is a complex function, with a host of rules (both internallyconceived and externally imposed) impacting the day-to-day conduct ofbusiness. Owing to this complexity, there are two attributes of successful utA/P organizations that stand out in Aberdeens recent payables research:clarity and standardization of A/P processes. Clarity can take the form of a Improvement of accountsdetailed and well-organized playbook, setting out the proper methods for payable must begin with,handling incoming invoices of differing formats, procedures for matching “Centralization of data, core ribinvoices with existing purchase orders (if matching is not automated by a process development,solution), and setting out controls such as dollar value-based approval limits establishment of standards, and enablement of users.”and individual duties relative to vendor information management, checkprinting, etc. This capability, in place in 60% of Best-in-Class firms, is not ~ James de Vries, Director, CH stonly helpful in day-to-day operations, but can further support efforts to Robinson Worldwidestandardize processes between separate locations or business units byproviding a comprehensive reference for training purposes. DiOrganizationThe changes required to improve A/P performance (altering how incominginvoices are processes, migrating to electronic payments, etc.) do not comeabout by happenstance. To that end, 72% of Best-in-Class performers orreported having an active A/P improvement initiative in place - and half ofthose companies have had such a program for two years or more. Similar toPeter Druckers counsel that management requires measurement, when itcomes to accounts payable, improvement necessitates involvement. This tfencompasses both a commitment by the organization as well as the supportof upper management - a trait Best-in-Class firms are 44% more likely topossess than their lower-performing peers.NoKnowledge Management “In the near-term, we’reSuppliers need invoice and payment status information, finance needs to focusing on electronic invoicingknow what outflows will affect the companys cash position, and A/P and automation of payments reconciliation. The currentmanagers benefit from identifying bottlenecks (whether process- or people- problem we face is overcomingrelated) slowing down the payables process. Enterprise-level visibility into incorrect (or missing) paymentthe A/P process is what can allow the organization to satisfy the needs of reference informationthese stakeholders. Even in larger enterprises, which are on par with the preventing an automaticBest-in-Class (48% report having this capability), there is still much room for match.”improvement. It is no surprise that small businesses - those most likely to ~ Faye Wright, Director, VETTmanually process invoices and pay with paper checks - are also the least Ltd.likely to report this level of visibility (21% overall). While their transaction© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  15. 15. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 15volumes may be lower, and organizational structure less complex, theinterest of internal and external parties in gaining a clear understanding ofA/P status is no less important. Case Study — Advent of A/P Automation at Johns Manville For Johns Manville, a Colorado-based building materials manufacturer acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2001, accounts payable is an area n poised for improvement. With an average processing volume of 10,000 invoices per month—higher during the summer due to seasonality— io manual processes hindered performance. According to Ed Ermak, Business Process Specialist for JM, their legacy system was the culprit; “Whenever we can’t pay an invoice, either ut because we don’t have the PO or there is a price difference between the receipt and invoice, our A/P people had to make a copy of the invoice and email it off to someone else to find out what information is correct.” rib Successful discrepancy resolution caused large amounts of rework, and often required multiple iterations before completion. With so many copies already being made for exceptions, this led Ermak to ask an important question; “If we are already making copies for the exceptions, why not do this for the entire invoice process and reap savings by not st having to file any paper at all?” As an added benefit, if questions about an invoice ever arose, there would already be a document image in the system associated with the transaction. Di Already in the midst of an implementation of an ERP system that would handle the workflow functionality, JM chose to add on an external imaging solution which would capture invoices on the front-end and feed into the central system. At the outset, JM’s focus was on creating document images, rather than pursuing full digitization of invoice or information through OCR. They took a measured approach of utilizing the imaging software to speed up manual keying of entries. At present, the software picks up approximately 86% of invoice information, leaving only 14% to be entered by clicking and selecting data on the invoice tf image (which is a bit more efficient than keying by hand). With a centralized A/P department, JM is reaping further efficiencies. continuedNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  16. 16. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 16 Case Study — Advent of A/P Automation at Johns Manville After an initial test, Ermak says, they found that half of their invoices could pass through the imaging system and either post to the ERP or be parked for workflow. The other half, representing invoices that lacked some required information, still require intervention to remedy omissions, such as those with missing PO numbers or PO line-items. n Looking ahead, they expect to boost the data capture up over 90%, and to improve the non-exceptions to 70% to 75%. Focusing less on error- io handling will allow for more staff time dedicated to performance monitoring and process improvement. A successful imaging program on the payments side may even support future expansion of the technology to the receivables arena, streamlining the process by intercepting ut customer orders and facilitating ERP integration for those volumes as well. ribTechnologyPrevious sections have all touched on technological choices implicitly: indiscussing the various formats used for invoice submission, electronicconversion of paper documents, automation of approval workflow, and stsystems integration between receipt, approval, payments and underlyingfinancial systems. As illustrated in Figure 5, there are many othertechnologies that support these processes as well. Once digitized, what Dibecomes of the newly created invoice image? It can be forwarded as anemail attachment, associated with a transaction in the ERP system, orotherwise stored and indexed for future use - as is done by 52% of Best-in-Class companies.If imaging is the starting point, and data is the goal, how do companies make orthat leap? One example is Optical Character Recognition, which can identifytyped characters on an invoice (or other document) image and convert thatto usable data. Further still, Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) canextend this capability to images of hand-written documents. The specific tfterminology used for competing solutions may vary between vendors, butthe important point is that these types of applications provide companieswith the benefit of electronic invoices without requiring technological “We are automated, andchange on the part of their suppliers. receive electronic invoicesNo through XML. We are lookingLastly, Best-in-Class companies make use of two technologies that bridge to Vendor Self Service tothe gap with the stakeholders in procurement: spend analytics and contract eliminate the balance of therepositories. Especially in companies where the majority of purchase orders paper invoices.”are paper-based, data gathered by the accounts payable group may be the ~ Robin Lee, Executivebest available window into overall spend (useful information for supplier Director, Finance andrationalization efforts, as discussed in the end-of-chapter Insight). For the Administration, Baylor CollegeA/P department itself, this information can lay the foundation for identifying of Medicinesavings opportunities by altering the mix of payment methods. Contractrepositories offer an electronic means of storing and accessing thedocuments governing existing business agreements. Why is this important inaccounts payable? Electronic comparison of invoiced pricing to governing© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  17. 17. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 17contracts can identify inconsistencies - and help to ensure that the discountsnegotiated by those in procurement survive to aid in maximizing thecompanys bottom line.Figure 5: Current Adoption of Supporting Technologies Percentage of Respondents, n = 152 60% Best-in-Class Small Midsize Large n 52% 50% 47% 42% io 40% 35% 36% 36% 24% 29% 30% 24% 24% 23% 14% 20% 18% 21% 20% 18% ut 13% 11% 9% 10% 7% 0% rib Enterprise Image Spend Analytics Contract Digital Optical Repository (for invoices) Repository Signatures Character Recognition (OCR) Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010 stPerformanceAs previously mentioned, measurement is the key to management when it Dicomes to performance. In this regard, Accounts Payable is a difficult functionto manage effectively. Only 41% of Best-in-Class companies are able tomeasure the cycle time of the full A/P process, from invoice receipt throughpayment. The news is not all bad, however. When the process is separatedinto receipt and approval on one side, and settlement on the other, theresults are more encouraging. Ninety-one percent (91%) of responding orcompanies measure their receipt and approval time, and 94% reportmeasuring the payment portion of the process. Cost measures aresomewhat more difficult to come by: 18% do not measure cost during initial tfreceipt and processing, while 13% report that their companies do notmeasure the cost of settlement.This lack of visibility into departmental performance should serve as a call to "[In the next six to 12 months our company will focus on]Noaction for companies of all sizes. While the measures themselves do not Assessment of processes andneed to be laboriously computed, some effort should be made to run documentation of controls forthrough, at very least, the simplest calculations: A/P overhead divided by the improvement and audit.”number of invoices processed for cost; payment date minus stated invoicedate for cycle time (or, as an even more obtainable measure, system ~ Mark Sybouts, Businesspayment entry date minus system PO-creation date). Sophistication and Manager, Neah-Kah-Nie Schoolprecision can come later, as documents become digitized, data becomes District 56more easily accessible, and implemented solutions handle the analysis.Despite this future potential, what cannot be understated is the present-dayimportance of taking the initial readings, to lay the groundwork for gaugingpotential improvement options moving forward.© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  18. 18. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 18 Aberdeen Insight - Market Power and E-Payables Options Transitioning away from paper checks is certainly a goal easier stated than achieved. The same can be said of transitioning suppliers away from paper invoices towards electronic methods. However, with an informed strategy for n supplier engagement, businesses can spend their time wisely, by selectively approaching those business partners most likely to agree to a change. As was previously illustrated in Table 2, sizeable gains can be made by switching from io paper checks to ACH (for typical PO-based purchases) or Purchasing/Commercial Cards (for lower value items). The benefits of invoice automation have been discussed previously as well. The next step is determining ut where to focus in order to achieve the greatest gain. For the purposes of this Insight, the argument is simple: focus on those suppliers for whom your deal size, frequency, and reliability are important. This may seem rib like a truism, but make note of a potential negative impact of success in a related business area: "successful" supplier rationalization in Procurement can lead to the usage of a lower number of suppliers, with whom volumes have been aggregated in order to secure more favorable discounts on purchases. What is lost in this analysis is how this consolidation affects your negotiating power with st your base. Moving from using two separate, mid-tier suppliers at $50k each, to one top-tier supplier for the entire $100k spend may indeed secure a better discount. But if your company is now a small fish in a big pond (rather than the Di reverse when working with smaller outfits), you may find your ability to dictate invoice or payment methods quite constrained. Table 4 presents the percentages of suppliers in each category with which respondents use the stated payment types. The trends are fairly easy to identify: midsize and large firms are better able to transition away from paper checks or when dealing with their major suppliers; usage of wire transfers does not appear to be a function of supplier importance (and is possibly better equated with the requirements of speed or international payment), and; companies of all sizes have been successful in handling payments to non-core suppliers via commercial tf cards, with midsize respondents leading the way. continuedNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  19. 19. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 19 Aberdeen Insight - Market Power and E-Payables Options Table 4: Payment Methods Used by Supplier Type* Major Suppliers Other Suppliers Small Midsize Large Small Midsize Large n Paper 72% 59% 74% 83% 77% 74% Checks io ACH 32% 42% 56% 19% 31% 28% Wire 51% 64% 44% 48% 59% 42% Transfers ut Commercial 26% 15% 26% 40% 26% 16% Cards * These figures represent the percentage of companies that utilize each payment for the given rib supplier types. They do not reflect the percentage of total payments made using each type. st Source: Aberdeen Group, May 2010 Di or tfNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  20. 20. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 20 Chapter Three: Required ActionsCapturing efficiency gains and improving visibility through process Fast Factsimprovement and payments automation are important goals for the modern √ The Best-in-Class receiveaccounts payable organization. The recommendations to follow provide electronic invoices 83% npotential starting points for companies of differing sizes and levels of more oftenprocess and technological maturity. √ Best-in-Class firms are 186% io more likely to employSmall Business Steps to Success dynamic discounting to achieve cost savings • Craft clear policies governing the entire payables process. Focusing on performance, companies with clear policies in place √ 44% of firms have cross- ut report invoice processing times 42% faster than their peers. These functional coordination of gains extend to exception handling as well, where they reported a payments management 44% differential. Beyond performance, such clarity can ease the between procurement, rib process of standardization, where policies are extended to finance additional business units. While this scenario may occur more often in larger enterprises, these benefits are also available to small businesses in the context of employee succession/replacement, where the quality of documentation can facilitate effective on- st boarding. • Segment your suppliers to prioritize efforts to increase electronic invoices and electronic payments. As discussed in Di Chapter Two, negotiating power can be a limiting factor in what options businesses can pursue in the payables arena. By analyzing spend data, small businesses can identify the best candidates for paper-to-electronic conversion and focus resources on enabling those suppliers. The benefits can be quite impressive: for recent or respondents, ACH payments provided a 34% cost savings over paper checks while P-Card transactions were 45% less costly.Midsize Business Steps to Success tf • Implement system-level controls for segregation of duties. Midsize businesses are lagging behind Best-in-Class companies when it comes to internal controls, as they are 35% less likely to reportNo having this capability in place. This can breed disaster. Aberdeens May global payments study found that of those companies experiencing some degree of fraud, and those without tight internal payment controls were 39% more likely to have been victimized by an internal party (i.e. a current or former employee). But midsize companies should not focus only on this increased risk exposure - for the more than one-quarter of midsize respondents that are publicly traded (or those contemplating going public) effective controls are governmentally mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. • Evaluate the centralization of data capture. As volumes and geographic dispersion grows, so too does the need to examine© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  21. 21. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 21 centralization of common business functions. This may be done internally, through a shared service center, or externally via Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). One natural A/P candidate is data capture, which midsize companies are 26% less likely to centralize than the Best-in-Class. This approach, gathering incoming invoices from disparate locations into a single point of input, goes hand-in-hand with ERP or financial systems integration. By reducing n the number of different sources of input, companies can also reduce the number of systems connections necessary to integrate payables information into related systems for handling workflow, ledger io updates, and status inquiries.Large Enterprise Steps to Success ut • Standardize payments processes across business units and A critical element in improving locations. As businesses grow (either organically or through accounts payable is, “Electronic acquisition), so too can their geographic footprint. Large companies documentation and paperless rib in Aberdeens April payables study reported receiving invoices at an payment processes.” average of nearly 26 different offices or locations. However, less ~ Larry Albright, Controller, than half of these businesses have standardized payables processes K&L Microwave across those locations. This can have an impact on enterprise visibility into payables performance. Businesses with standardized st processes are more than twice as likely as others to report having good or real-time visibility into accounts payable operations and processes (70% vs. 35%). Di • Focus on integration of receipt, workflow, and payments with underlying ERP and financial applications. Enterprises with the largest volume of invoices and payments to process also have the ability to capture the greatest absolute gains--which lie at the heart of a persuasive business case. The goal with complete or automation and integration is the ability to manage by exception, enable straight-through processing (i.e. no manual intervention required), and realize the full potential of the available accounts payable technology. Those steps in the A/P process that are the tf most manually intensive (indexing, matching invoices to POs, and payments to invoices) all share a common attribute: they are information-intensive endeavors requiring comparison andNo evaluation of numerous records - exactly the sort of rote exercise that computers handle exponentially better than their human counterparts.© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  22. 22. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 22 Accounts Payable Automation Recap Cost savings. Cost avoidance. Supplier relationships. Financial control. These are the avenues through which Accounts Payable can provide value to the greater organization. Not only are they important to the bottom line for their ability to minimize those P&L entries that degrade profits, but they carry with them the benefits of financial flexibility and n positive supplier relations that can set the stage for revenue improvements as well. What, then, is required to take advantage of the io opportunities that efficient accounts payable operations offer? Two attributes are fundamental: processing speed and information visibility. Though they may at first appear so, these necessities are not strictly ut within the province of technology. Well-detailed and regularly-enforced procurement and invoicing policies are where the game begins. Maximizing PO-based spend, and ensuring that all required information is provided to suppliers during the purchasing phase will enable them to rib reciprocate - responding with invoices properly referencing purchase orders. References facilitate comparison, and comparison allows for managing the front-end of the payables process by exception, rather than en masse. It is the ability to manage by exception that truly facilitates efficient invoice processing and payment disbursement. st Di or tfNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  23. 23. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 23 Appendix A: Research MethodologyBetween March and May 2010, Aberdeen surveyed finance professionals in Study Focusto identify their accounts payable including payments practices. Responding finance executivesThe online survey was supplemented with interviews with select survey completed an online survey nrespondents, gathering additional information on A/P strategies, that included questionsexperiences, and results. designed to determine the following: ioThe research sample included respondents from two separate surveys thatlooked at invoice receipt and workflow and payments processes with the √ The degree to whichfollowing demographic information. automation technologies are deployed in their accounts ut payable departments and theTable 5: Study Demographic Information financial implications of the technology Invoice Receipt and rib Global Payments Workflow √ The structure and C-Level (35%) effectiveness of existing A/P implementations Managing Director / C-Level Executive / Principle (5%) √ Current and planned use of st President (14%) EVP / SVP / VP /GM (2%) supporting technologies to GM / EVP / SVP / VP Controller (19%) improve A/P activities Job title (14%) Treasurer / Assistant √ The benefits, if any, that have Director (20%) Treasurer (4%) Di been derived from A/P Manager (31%) Director (11%) improvement initiatives Other (21%). Manager (13%) The study aimed to identify Other Staff (10%) emerging best practices for A/P 1% no response automation usage, and to provide a framework by which or Software (10%) Financial services (13%) Financial services (10%) Education (9%) readers could assess their own management capabilities. Insurance (6%) IT consulting / services (8%) Retail (5%) Consumer goods (6%) tf Industry Food and beverage (5%) Industrial product and Government / public equipment (6%) sector (5%) Healthcare (8%) Health / medical / dental Software (6%)No services (5%) Wholesale / distribution Automotive (4%) (5%) Geography: North America (76%) Company North America (72%) Europe (10%) headquarters of Europe (18%) Asia / Pacific (9%) responding Asia-Pacific region (7%) Middle East and Africa (4%) companies were Middle East / Africa (3%). South / Central America and located in Caribbean (1%).© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  24. 24. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 24 Invoice Receipt and Global Payments Workflow 42% of respondents were 35% of respondents were from large enterprises from large enterprises (annual revenues above (annual revenues above US US $1 billion) $1 billion) 35% were from midsize 40% were from midsize n enterprises (annual enterprises (annual revenues Company size revenues between $50 between $50 million and $1 million and $1 billion); billion) io 23% of respondents were 25% of respondents were from small businesses from small businesses (annual revenues of $50 (annual revenues of $50 ut million or less). million or less) 41% of respondents were 64% of respondents were from large enterprises from large enterprises (headcount greater than rib (headcount greater than 1,000 employees) 1,000 employees) 37% were from midsize 20% were from midsize enterprises (headcount enterprises (headcount between 100 and 999 Headcount between 100 and 999 employees) st employees) 21% of respondents were 16% of respondents were from small businesses from small businesses (headcount between 1 and (headcount between 1 Di 99 employees) and 99 employees) 1% no responseTable 6: The PACE Framework Key or Overview Aberdeen applies a methodology to benchmark research that evaluates the business pressures, actions, capabilities, and enablers (PACE) that indicate corporate behavior in specific business processes. These terms are defined as tf follows: Pressures — external forces that impact an organization’s market position, competitiveness, or business operations (e.g., economic, political and regulatory, technology, changing customer preferences, competitive) Actions — the strategic approaches that an organization takes in response to industry pressures (e.g., align theNo corporate business model to leverage industry opportunities, such as product / service strategy, target markets, financial strategy, go-to-market, and sales strategy) Capabilities — the business process competencies required to execute corporate strategy (e.g., skilled people, brand, market positioning, viable products / services, ecosystem partners, financing) Enablers — the key functionality of technology solutions required to support the organization’s enabling business practices (e.g., development platform, applications, network connectivity, user interface, training and support, partner interfaces, data cleansing, and management) Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897
  25. 25. E-Payables 2010: The Strategic Value of Accounts Payable AutomationPage 25Table 7: The Competitive Framework Key OverviewThe Aberdeen Competitive Framework defines enterprises In the following categories:as falling into one of the following three levels of practices Process — What is the scope of processand performance: standardization? What is the efficiency and nBest-in-Class (20%) — Practices that are the best effectiveness of this process?currently being employed and are significantly superior to Organization — How is your company currentlythe Industry Average, and result in the top industry organized to manage and optimize this particular ioperformance. process?Industry Average (50%) — Practices that represent the Knowledge — What visibility do you have into keyaverage or norm, and result in average industry data and intelligence required to manage this process? utperformance. Technology — What level of automation have youLaggards (30%) — Practices that are significantly behind used to support this process? How is this automationthe average of the industry, and result in below average integrated and aligned?performance Performance — What do you measure? How rib frequently? What’s your actual performance? Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010Table 8: The Relationship Between PACE and the Competitive Framework st PACE and the Competitive Framework – How They InteractAberdeen research indicates that companies that identify the most influential pressures and take the mosttransformational and effective actions are most likely to achieve superior performance. The level of competitive Diperformance that a company achieves is strongly determined by the PACE choices that they make and how well theyexecute those decisions. Source: Aberdeen Group, August 2010 or tfNo© 2009 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 Fax: 617 723 7897