SUBMITTED BY DataServ

The spring 2016 Accounts Payable and Procure-to-Pay (APP2P) Conference and Expo is in the books, and the DataServ contingent that made the trip to the Disney Contemporary Resort in Orlando found the conference to be insightful, educational, and extremely well executed by the Institute of Finance and Management.

Now that we are back home and have had time to reflect on the conference, we wanted to offer our five biggest takeaways from this year’s show. Here goes:

1. Fraud continues to be a huge problem in AP departments – We blogged about AP fraud recently, so we’re well aware of how prevalent fraudulent activity is in this day and age. Sure enough, fraud was a big topic of conversation at the conference, and we discovered the following interesting facts:

  • 60% of funds lost to fraud are never recovered
  • The perpetrator escapes punishment more times than not

The demographics of the typical fraud perpetrator are as follows:

  • Male

  • Aged 31-45

  • Holds a university degree

  • Never been caught or punished for fraud in the past

  • Rarely takes a vacation

  • Typically takes small amounts of money over time as opposed to executing one large score 

2. The hottest trends in AP based on educational session discussions and buzz on the exhibit hall floor:

  • SaaS – Provides clients the ability to customize solutions with minimal capital investment/IT involvement required.

  • e-Invoicing/paper reduction – Less paper = greater cost savings/efficiency; however, traditional solutions aren’t complete (see point No. 5)

  • Mobile – Mobile capture of invoices is the future – demand will increase going forward

  • e-Procurement - Reduces spend on goods and services and processing costs

  • Dashboards/Reporting – Provide complete visibility into the invoice lifecycle

3. Companies are investing in AP automation solutions in order to get more out of their AP departments. A spring 2016 survey conducted by Ardent Partners, an analyst firm focused on supply management that presented an educational breakout session at the APP2P conference, tackled the current state of AP and ePayables technology. Their survey showed that 53 percent of AP organizations list automating more AP processes at their No. 1 goal over the next two years. By contrast, only 33 percent of respondents listed “reducing operational costs on AP-related processes” as their top goal. This is noteworthy because the reduction of operational costs in AP had always been the most common response in earlier incarnations of this survey. This indicates a clear shift in the perspective organizations have on streamlining AP. Rather than focusing on merely reducing costs by any means possible, organizations are now more inclined to invest in AP automation in order to increase operational efficiency.

4. Companies are looking for a partner that can execute on a project and continue to bring value after the solution is in place. Organizations seeking AP automation do not want to align with a vendor that is going to do nothing more than offer a piece of software and a link to an instructional YouTube video that walks them through the installation process. They want a true “partner” who will offer ongoing support and continuous upgrades at no extra charge and ensure their organization is experiencing maximum benefit from the solution at all times. 

In addition, with all the acquisitions and mergers that have taken place in the financial operations industry over the last five years, “trust” is a bigger factor than ever. Our numerous discussions with attendees at this year’s conference indicated that the majority of organizations in search of an AP automation solution want to be certain that the vendor they select isn’t going away or that the solution it offers won't be significantly altered when they’re sold or merge with a larger competitor a few months down the road. Vendors with a track record of long-term stability and success stand out in today’s turbulent financial operations climate.    

5. Traditional e-Invoicing solutions leave companies wanting. While typical e-Invoicing solutions are touted as being the best technology for streamlining AP processes, the fact is these “solutions” remain an incomplete tool that won't address 100 percent of an organization’s invoices. Therefore, vendors are forced to glue together multiple complex and expensive solutions to address their client’s entire invoice volume. Many of these vendors are now seeking add-on capabilities to address this hole in the e-Invoicing approach.

The entire DataServ team enjoyed meeting those who stopped by our booth in the exhibit hall and learning from our competitors at this year’s conference. If you missed our educational breakout session “3 Challenges, 2 Companies, 1 Solution,” you can watch a recap of the session with DataServ Founder/CEO Jeff Haller and Angie Englert, Senior AP Manager at Express Scripts, here.

Additionally, we’ve put together a virtual goodie bag with all sorts of great content, including:

  • The complete slide deck from our presentation
  • A video of the entire 60-minute presentation
  • Three great infographics, illustrating:
    • Common AP automation issues
    • How to achieve 99%+ OCR quality
    • DataServ’s unique AutoVouchTM component for pre-ERP 2- or 3-way matching

If you have any questions about this year’s APP2P Conference and Expo or about how DataServ can help with your AP automation needs, please contact us at info@DataServ.com

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