Finance News & Insights

Accounts Payable spends 84% of day on this non-strategic task

When it comes to the valuable commodity of time, most Finance workers simply don’t have enough. But for A/P pros in particular, that shortage is getting expensive.

The average Accounts Payable department spends 84% of its time on transaction processing, according to the Institute of Financial Management (IOFM).

That leaves just 16% of their day for analysis work, which knocks A/P right back to being the cost center it’s worked so long and hard to stop being viewed as in the company.

Can’t tack an extra hour onto the workday? No worries. Check out these three strategies to get this mission-critical group thinking more strategically.

1. Give everyone a specific project

One of the best ways to get folks thinking about the big picture? Make them responsible for it!

GE does this right from the very start. The energy giant makes each new employee responsible for a specific project from Day 1.

That way at least in one facet of his or her job, this person needs to more than just follow already-created procedures; they drive the train.

You have plenty of ways to do this in Accounts Payable: Let one person lead the charge of securing more vendor discounts, for example.

Instead of simply claiming the discounts your company already has, she will have to revisit the process, consider existing vendor relationships and look for streamlining opportunities.

2. Make time to brainstorm

It’s so easy to get caught up in all Finance has to do in a day, that you might not make the time to just think as a department. But no company can afford not to.

Consider setting aside one hour a week for a meeting simply to brainstorm.

No running through to-do lists or updating on existing projects. This should be a specific time set aside to simply bounce around ideas for improvement.

Setting this up with A/P, whether you have a department of 14 or one, will get the ideas flowing on a regular basis.

3. Get them out of their silos

One of the biggest obstacles to bigger-picture focus comes when folks get mired in their own little universes. That can easily happen when staffers have so much to do.

Your peers who’ve had the most success at creating a strategic environment take their people out of their silos to interact with other parts of the company and even A/P pros in other industries so they can spot trends that may benefit your own organization.

Info: IOFM,; Adapted in part from “9 Ways To Share Your Strategic Thinking Skills With Your Team,” at

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