By far, the most important contributing factor to the success of your digital transformation efforts can be summed up in just a single word:
The type of data that your business is creating, storing, and sharing on a daily basis is inherently valuable. But at the same time, data volumes are exploding — meaning that most businesses are having a difficult time just figuring out how to process that data, let alone to tap into its full potential to make better and more informed decisions moving forward.
That's why, if you're looking for opportunities across your enterprise to extract more value from your data than ever, you should begin your efforts with your accounts payable department. Your accounts payable department holds the key to all of the important financial information pertaining to your business. They can give you important insights into customer trends and even payment preferences that otherwise would have gone undiscovered. They can also help capitalize on potential cost-savings opportunities within your business — something that is especially important given everything going on in the world right now.
Tapping into Your Accounts Payable Data
The type of data being generated by your accounts payable department goes far deeper than just the financial transactions within your enterprise. It can uncover invaluable insight relating to the types of purchases that are being made within your business. It can show you the preferred and most commonly used methods and time frames for purchasing. It can also solidify your understanding of your business' cash flow, too.
This in and of itself brings with it a wide range of benefits, all of which are worth exploring. It can give you the insight you need to recognize opportunities to negotiate payment terms, for example, thus saving money right away. It can help you take advantage of vendor discounts that may be accessible that you may have otherwise been unaware of. It can show you those services that may not be as profitable as you think they are, thus meaning that they need to be retired.
But most importantly, all of this can help you maximize your working capital in a way that can provide security over your short-term debt and monthly expenses.
Of course, to get to this point you'll need to put yourself in a position to embrace automation as much as possible — all in a way that supports accounts payable data usage in a better way than ever. By digitizing and automating key business processes within your accounts payable department by way of an enterprise content management system or an intelligent information management system like M-Files, you can easily track the total number of invoices that are being processed over a precise period of time. From the perspective of your accounts payable team, this gives them a chance to better assess resources to make better choices when it comes to allocation.
They can even use this insight to identify the types of productivity bottlenecks that simply don't have to exist any longer. Through a combination of automated process reporting, managers can adjust workloads to account for busier and slower times throughout the year — thus maximizing productivity in a meaningful way.
But getting the most out of your accounts payable data also involves maximizing the types of insights and recommendations gleaned from that data — meaning that you need to make sure it is flowing towards the top of your business, where it belongs. By working closely with executive teams, the accounts payable department can use this data as a legitimate strategic tool for business growth.
All of this depends on a business' ability to quickly model and execute business processes, thus helping the organization constantly improve its customer experience and remain competitive. By using data to optimize operations in a more organic, more intelligent way, it can help be a major contributing factor to a significant advantage in your marketplace.
In the end, it's always important to remember that one of the top priorities of any business involves communicating with and distributing to customers more efficiently all the time. That, in essence, is why the data being generated by your accounts payable department is so crucial. It allows the department itself to move beyond its traditional role in the "back office," becoming more closely aligned with executive leadership in a way that drives legitimate business growth as much as possible. When you also consider that it's a key contributing factor to the success of your organization's digital transformation, it's easy to see why this is one concept you should be paying close attention to for the foreseeable future.