A report from Ardent Partners yielded some rich data on the metrics that AP departments prioritize versus the metrics that top senior executives use to evaluate AP’s performance.
While it’s not surprising that the two aligned around old faithful metrics like timeliness and accuracy, there were few performance areas top of mind to the senior execs that weren’t on AP’s radar:
- Internal Stakeholder Feedback and Surveys
While there are no numbers that AP can consistently track when it comes to feedback from other departments and stakeholders within a business, there is a very real and powerful strategy they can begin to implement to influence stakeholder feedback – collaboration. According to Ardent Partners, “working more closely with stakeholders like procurement, finance, and treasury provides opportunities for AP to showcase the value of its financial and operational data.”
- Department Budget Performance
Are your processes optimized so your staff can max out their productivity and put time into more strategic initiatives? If your accounts payable team is reliable, but they don’t have the tools they need to be truly efficient, it might be time to look into how technology could transform the way they work. Making the best use of their time frees them up to take on the kinds of activities that will position your AP department as a strategic business partner.
- Compliance Metrics
Process, regulatory and financial compliance are topics that keep your CFO up at night. Falling short in any of these areas could lead to stressful legal repercussions. AP departments that show they’re attuned to their CFO’s need for controls in the area of compliance are more likely to be recognized as a trusted partner. If you’re hoping to get the resources your department needs to become a more dynamic and strategic contributor to your business, then showing that you not only care about compliance but are actively tracking metrics in this area could be a game changer.
The perception that AP is reliable is not, by itself, a bad thing. But reliability will only get you so far. “Although the industry is in the midst of a broad-based transformation, the general perception of the AP function significantly lags recent industry advances,” explains Ardent Partners. Is your AP department stuck in an Old Faithful role within your organization? If so, transforming the way your enterprise sees AP is going to require a bottom-up shift in mindset and an aggressive push to align “department goals with business priorities.”