Accounts payable jobs will change in the future. New technology is obsoleting the basic transactional tasks traditionally associated with an accounts payable job description. Yet many organizations continue to hire people for commodity manual tasks such as invoice processing, supplier and vendor onboarding, payment processing, tax compliance, and reconciliation and reporting. At the same time, the accounts payable job is becoming more complex in the face of working with global suppliers, increasing compliance requirements, and the demands of a growing organization.
The Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) surveyed accounts payable practitioners about their profession. The study revealed that the folks in AP spend 84 percent of their time bogged down by ostensibly never-ending manual transaction processes. Even their managers are affected. 36 percent of accounts payable specialist are spending their time on transaction processing. The effect of those manual processes add up, primarily by increased errors and inefficiencies throughout the payables operation.
To move the position forward, here is a proposed “future-proof” accounts payable job description. It’s designed to attract enthusiastic, strategically-minded individuals who know that accounts payable can be more than just someone who manages invoice-to-pay processes.
Accounts Payable Analyst or Accounts Payable Specialist
The Accounts Payable Analyst looks to ensure efficient and accurate payables processes or AP workflow. The supplier relationship is critical to the company’s ability to execute its corporate mission and grow in a scalable way. Additionally, the AP Analyst is charged with near-time analysis of corporate spend, further adoption of new technologies, and overseeing the entire supplier payment cycle.
Because of the unique value this position provides the business, accounts payable specialists have enormous growth potential for aspiring finance and accounting directors, controllers.
- 60% Accounts payable analyst
- Ensuring data integrity and process controls across all business units / subsidiaries
- Investigating AP revenue opportunities, e.g. early payment programs, supply chain finance, dynamic discounting
- Providing analysis of cash flow activities, supplier contracts, compliance/risk, etc.
- Assisting with all tax data reporting on expenditures
- Identifying, evaluating, and recommending new payables technologies
- 30% Expense management, including:
- Liaising with department heads regarding expenditure policies
- Reconciling employee reporting and department charges
- Paying employees either through check or payroll systems
- Administering corporate cards and petty cash disbursement
- 10% Oversee technologies around supplier payments (accounts payable software), including:
- Supplier portal technology to support onboarding, self-service data entry, tax identity collection, vendor master record, and vendor communications (AP Automation)
- Invoice workflow automation (e.g. touchless OCR, invoice routing and approvals)
- Payment approval and processing, including via check, ACH, wire, and e-wallets
- Reconciling invoice and payments data with ERP / GL
- Degree in Finance or Accounting-related field
- Knowledge of standard account platforms or ERPs
- Proficient in Microsoft Excel / FP&A
- Ideally experienced in supplier payment / AP automation
- Ideally experienced in expense management platforms
- Detail-oriented process-optimizer
- A strategic-minded team player
- Proficiency in both verbal and written communication
Finding quality employees is not easy and keeping a lean headcount is tantamount to profitability. Businesses that reach for a higher level of competency in accounts payable, where their hires can do more (rather than pay more to pay more), often find that the entire organization is elevated as a result. Controllers and CFOs can offload more functions and also spend more time on more strategic initiatives.