Accounts payable and the grand scheme of things…

In the structure of enterprise finance, accounts payable (AP) is a function of the accounting department. AP is a critical function in any organisation, as it ensures that suppliers are paid on time and that financial records are accurate. AP is an important cog because it oversees a large part of the capital outflow from the enterprise.

Within the structure of enterprise finance, in answer to the question of “What is AP?”, it may be defined as owning responsibility for the following core tasks:

  • Processing invoices – accurately processing supplier invoices, including verifying invoice details, matching invoices to procurement purchase orders, statement matching, and identifying duplicate invoices.
  • Managing accounts payable – accurately managing the organisation’s accounts payable including tracking due dates of invoices, ensuring timely payment to agreed terms, and managing any disputes with suppliers.
  • Communicating with suppliers – AP resolves supplier issues with invoices or payments, including providing updates on the status of payments, resolving disputes, and where necessary, negotiating payment terms.
  • Reporting – provides reports to the accounting department and other stakeholders on the status of accounts payable, containing KPI information such as the number of invoices processed, the AP ledger of money owed to suppliers, and the due dates of invoice payments.

To perform well, accounts payable need to be organised and efficient. However, day-to-day operations can seem mundane, and the mission might be seen as unglamorous. It is easy to forget that AP doesn’t operate in isolation, it’s part of the grand scheme of enterprise financial management.

In the wider context, AP is part of a bigger mission

It is an unavoidable fact that, with increasing size, the complexity of an organisation grows.

In a small business, for example, the finance function might simply comprise a bookkeeper, with external support from a retained outsourced professional accountancy firm, or the services of a consultant CFO/FD as an associate, or on a part-time basis.

However, when it comes to managing the financial interests of an enterprise-scale business, the array of corporate finance responsibilities simply snowballs. For a privately owned or publicly quoted enterprise, a wide range of financial responsibilities need to be addressed and some of the key areas of focus are:

  • Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) – developing and analysing financial plans and forecasts, tracking financial performance and identifying trends.
  • Treasury management – managing cash flow and investments, and also helping to raise capital and manage debt.
  • Accounting – AP’s ‘home’ – recording and reporting financial transactions, preparing financial statements and ensuring compliance with accounting regulations.
  • Taxation – for tax planning, compliance, and tax reporting activities. It ensures compliance with tax laws, optimises tax strategies, prepares tax returns, and manages tax-related risks and opportunities.
  • Risk management – identifying and managing financial risks as well as developing and implementing risk mitigation strategies.
  • Internal audit – auditing financial records and operations and ensuring compliance with internal policies and procedures.

Supporting cash flow and working capital management

All of these functional areas are important, but treasury management is arguably of higher priority than the others, because it relates more directly to liquidity and the availability of cash to the enterprise, the very lifeblood of the business.

In this respect, AP’s role cannot be underestimated. Prudent management of the accounts payable ledger prioritises enterprise cash flow and working capital management. AP provides the data required to drive the decision-making that optimises cash flow through the business, ensuring the enterprise has sufficient funds to meet its financial obligations.

In the cut and thrust of today’s markets, quite simply, automating accounts payable to obtain greater accurate financial information with APMatching is a matter of gaining a competitive advantage.

Do a better job of enterprise finance with APMatching

See how APMatching accounts payable automation software supports enterprises in their quest to maximise financial performance. Take a personalised demo with one of our representatives, and we’ll show you how the software eliminates tedious, time-consuming manual invoice processing and automates duplicate invoice detection.

If you like what you see, we’ll give you full support so that you can more fully evaluate APMatching with a Proof of Concept (PoC), demonstrating how effective it is using your own data.