Automating accounts payable (AP) differs from many other enterprise business processes. First, it is collaborative, involving transactions with suppliers and other third parties. Second, for best results, it requires tight collaboration with related departments such as procurement, treasury and supply chain, among others.

For that reason, relevant communities and resources for accounts payable extend beyond finance. Here are several key targets to consider for educating accounts payable professionals on trends and developments in AP and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) automation.

Organizations targeting AP and P2P Professionals

Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM): IOFM focuses on education, certification and networking specifically tailored for AP and P2P practitioners. It hosts webinars each month and conferences in the spring and fall that include keynote speakers, break-out sessions and vendor booths.

Institute of Financial Operations and Leadership (IFOL): With office locations in the UK, US and Canada, IFOL provides training, certification and support to a global community that spans 14 countries. Areas of focus include P2P, AP,  Accounts Receivable (AR), Payroll and Shared Services.

Shared Service Link (SSL): SSL markets itself as a business-to-business community of practitioners, thought leaders and solution providers in finance and accounting. Global business services, shared services, procure-to-pay, order to cash, record to report, and tax organizations are areas of focus, where it shares best practice tips through webinars, articles, white papers and more.

Research, advisory and benchmarking services

As a group, these firms tout their ability to help organizations understand and implement best practices in business process improvement and transformation. They offer insights, analysis, and advice on various aspects of technology, business strategies, and market trends. Forrester, Gartner Group, International Data Corporation (IDC) and The Hacket Group are among the larger firms in this category.

Ardent Partners is a smaller firm in this group that brings a strong focus on payables and P2P automation. Another smaller firm, Spend Matters, has tracked the procurement, finance, and supply chain technology space since 2004. It offers specialty hubs that include AP Automation and Procure-to-Pay, engaging with practitioners, consultants, solution providers, and investors.

Expanding knowledge of Treasury
With new potential to assist in cash flow management and oversee dynamic discounts, AP today is more closely aligned with treasury than ever before. That makes knowledge of treasury developments a valuable adjunct to expertise in payables and P2P. As an organization serving the treasury function, the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) provides certification and training in treasury and corporate financial planning and analysis. Its annual event features a high-profile keynote along with roundtables, a vendor area and networking opportunities.

Another firm with treasury expertise, Aite-Novarica Group, offers more than 70 analysts and industry practitioners in North America and Europe with expertise across all sectors of the financial services industry. Its library of more than 3,000 reports covers financial services technology innovations over the past 16 years.  

Of course, there are many more organizations and resources providing financial insights of value to a payables organization. LinkedIn groups, for example, offer domain specialties in various areas of finance, procurement, supply chain and more. Finally, tailored Internet searches on specific areas of interest can turn up additional resources to help you in your journey to achieve payables and P2P excellence

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