We continue our blog series on data derived from the recent The Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) survey that polled several thousand accounts payable (AP) finance professionals, by looking at the results of a question that asked these industry pros to select the top three AP activities that cause the greatest pain in their department. We all know how messy and cumbersome AP departments can be, and while things have gotten better over the last decade, there are far too many companies still stuck in outdated processes, as this survey outlines.

The results of the survey can be seen below in graphic form, courtesy of IOFM.

Survey result graph

We were stunned by how many companies are still processing invoices manually in this era of online commerce and “digital everything.” In today’s world, we pay our bills online, we manage our bank accounts online, we shop online, we pretty much do everything in a simpler, more convenient, more streamlined fashion than we did 20 or 30 years ago. So why are so many companies still slogging away in their AP department with paper invoices and manual processing like it’s 1985? 

If you responded to this survey question and selected one of these activities listed in the graph as your department’s biggest problem, or if your own department’s issues simply mirror those who did, your organization needs to give serious consideration toward implementing an AP automation solution that can solve all these pain points in one fell swoop.

There are automated solutions widely available that can cure all of these issues. For example, the need to route invoices for approval manually, a major problem for many companies according to the survey, can be completely eliminated with an automated solution that allows you to establish pre-set rules and tolerances for all purchases. This feature captures invoice data and matches it to the documents from your purchase order (PO) process and the receiving data. The data is then validated using multiple tiers of verification, all tailored to your specifications. Therefore, the need to manually route invoices for approval is eliminated, and a major pain point in your AP process is removed.

In addition, an AP automation solution that provides 100 percent electronic data receipt at the front end of the process will eliminate all manual invoice data entry, which seems to plague the majority of AP departments, including those that responded to this survey question. This can be achieved with a cloud-based solution that features a robust Digital Mailroom that utilizes optical character recognition (OCR) technology so that all your invoices, in whatever form they arrive in, can be converted to data and images. This information speeds your review and approval of both PO or non-PO invoices, saving you significant time, money and hassle.

Some common AP problems have solutions that are unique to DataServ, and others have multiple different solutions available from a wide array of vendors. We won’t engage in the Software as a Service (SaaS) vs. on-premises software debate again – if you’re a regular reader of our content, you know where we stand on that – but the responses to this specific question, and this entire IOFM survey, underline just how many companies are running inefficient, outdated manual processes.

We want to hear from you. What are the biggest pain points in your AP department? Contact us at, or simply respond in the comments section below. 

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