PPN were invited along to Canon’s Future of P2P event at The Shard last week, and the level of enthusiasm and energy in the room was impressive. Perhaps that came from the building itself – 95 stories of towering glass, and the 105th tallest in the world.
But more likely that the energy came from Canon’s new Business Process Consultant, Rachel Griffiths. Speakers at events are without fail “passionate” about their product, or team, so much so that sometimes the word can feel a bit overused. But Rachel’s passion for her topic was infectious and with over 25 years in the industry, mostly in large organisations such as Orange and Vodafone, she’s proud to say that she’s a career AP professional and never wanted to be anything else. It might be unusual to hear that someone “oozes passion for workflow” but it certainly warmed the audience to her and the topic. She’s back in the UK after 18 years in Australia, her last stint there was with Australia’s largest outsourced AP function, that was then acquired by Canon. Once back in the UK, she pointed out that she was surprised, though relieved to find that overall, the UK’s AP world was not much changed.
In fact, Canon’s latest research shows that she’s probably right. Still only 10% of organisations are fully automated – though around a third have started on the journey. And certainly in terms of the numbers working in a fully automated environment, those are figures we recognise at PPN from our own research. Interestingly 66% of those surveyed said that their systems could be better aligned. By a show of hands, it seemed to fit with the general mood in the room too.
And no doubt in some cases that’s the cause and/or result of the 2/3 of the respondents who felt that their AP and procurement were not aligned in a physical or business sense either. And yet – looking at the top priorities for procurement and the top priorities for AP – they were almost identical. So what causes this disconnect? Well, to some extent it seems that it’s the result of a deeply entrenched way of working, with AP often seen as the bottleneck for progress. Something we’ll uncover in more detail when we next catch up with Rachel. But with the advent of better analytics and visibility into the process as a whole, end to end – the ability to shine a light on other areas of the business has never been greater. As Rachel pointed out “the worm is about to turn in AP.”