The Hackett Group

A Checklist for Developing a Future-Proof AP Organization

This Hackett Group report helps organizations understand the business value of digital transformation and optimizing your AP processes. Gain insight into what top performers are focusing on and make the business case for improving AP capabilities by developing a future-proof strategy.

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Your Guide to Transforming Accounts Payable Processes

Read this report and learn how to enhance the following areas:

  • Information, analytics, and technology
  • Human capital and service partnering
  • Organization, governance, and reporting
  • Service design including automation
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Many accounts payable (AP) organizations are still stuck using paper-based processes, which lead to longer payment cycles and less control over working capital. While optimizing processes delivers measurable cost-savings and increases productivity, companies may be resistant to change due to lack of knowledge or lack of desire on the part of end-users. But transforming your AP organization can improve agility and control, support sourcing savings, and more.

Nicholas Walden,  Senior Director, Procurement and Purchase-to-Pay Programs, UK, The Hackett Group
Nicholas Walden
Senior Director, Procurement and Purchase-to-Pay Programs, UK
The Hackett Group
Amy Fong, Purchase-to-Pay Advisory Program, The Hackett Group
Amy Fong
Purchase-to-Pay Advisory Program
The Hackett Group
The business case for AP improvement is different for each company, based on available resources, technology landscape and realistically achievable levels of automation given the organization’s current capabilities. Maturing as an AP organization requires addressing every aspect of the service delivery model. The Hackett Group recommends using the checklist in this report as a starting point.
Nicolas Walden and Amy Fong, Procurement and Purchase-to-Pay Programs, The Hackett Group


What are the main objectives of purchase-to-pay organizations?

The top two objectives of AP organizations are to digitally transform the P2P process, and to increase stakeholder satisfaction. The three next most important objectives are to obtain more value from the P2P process, to reduce maverick spend and increase internal compliance, and to increase supplier compliance with their contract. The next most important objective is to improve quality and thus reduce errors in the P2P process. The most important objectives are to reduce the P2P operating cost and to reduce the supply risk associated in order to avoid regulatory non-compliance.

What are the most common ways that companies answer AP inquiries?

The most common method, according to this report, is to respond by email, with between 50-58% of companies claiming to use this method. The second most common reply method, employed by 18-19% of companies, is “live” on the first phone call. Third, 6% of companies use their website or intranet to reply to inquiries in a “self-service” manner, while 10% of “top performers” use this method. Fourth, 7-9% of companies employ a voice response (IVR or VRU), while 6-7% of companies use voicemail on a return call. See the report for more details.

What are the main areas of improvement in the AP capability development checklist?

The Accounts Payable development checklist has the customer at the center, with digital, data-driven, and agile methods surrounding the customer, with the goal of incorporating proven best practices and emerging practices to improve the customer experience. The main areas of improvement can be categorized into six areas: technology, service design, analytics and information management, organization and governance, service partnering, and human capital. See the report for further details about each of these areas.