Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 24 May 2022
Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific
Manual AP processes created several issues long before remote working became the norm, and they will continue to do so even after employees return to the office. Change is tough for everyone, but accountants are notorious for clinging to tried-and-true procedures.
The change to remote working due to COVID-19 was not simple, but finance departments had little choice but to adjust. After making the transition to remote working, many companies appreciated the benefits of AP automation solutions. However, many businesses are still undecided about how account payable automation may help them.
To address this, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of accounts payable automation and how the accounting department can benefit greatly from it, be it the older or the younger generation of employees.
xSuite; What’s New And What Are They Currently Doing?
xSuite is a German headquartered software firm specializing in finance automation and they assist financial leaders to automate their financial processes, particularly their accounts payable. During COVID-19, xSuite has seen a lot of companies that had to move to remote work and digitse their processes in order to still operate their businesses as before. Due to this, they saw a big demand in these areas and are still seeing it today. This is because companies are starting to realise that they need to push more with automation to be more competitive in today’s world.
Impact Of High Turnover Rates On Finance Teams
The subject of great resignation is spreading through the entire world and right now.
“Yesterday, I spoke with someone in America and they mentioned that they are unable to hire people who live close to the office,” commented Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific.
xSuite observed that people have changed their behaviours and opinions towards jobs where they want jobs to be more independent, they do not want to comply with strict rules. Marcus Rex pointed out that in Singapore, there are about 45,000 open positions right now across LinkedIn, Indeed and JobStreet posted in the country for accountants or accounting departments.
However, he noted that there were only 1500 to 1600 of first-level positions for degree holders in accounting compared to the 45,000 open positions. From this observation, there is clearly a huge disparity between graduates and open positions which imposes very big risks for finance departments.
What Could Have Led To The Low Number Of Accounting Graduates?
A lot of young graduates, when they start their accounting jobs, find themselves doing a lot of repetitive tasks which they do not enjoy.
“Many young accountants spend their day keying in invoice data and they have to follow up with their colleagues over and over again just to get approval and to pay out the invoice.”Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific
So, these repetitive tasks are clearly something that people do not really like and this is where xSuite comes in and helps finance leaders to take some of these repetitive tasks away from the accountants so the accountants can concentrate more of their time and energy on really value-added work.
Effects Of Accounts Payable Automation On Senior Staff
xSuite has observed that over the last couple of years, when a finance leader decides to bring in automation, they see that in senior generations of accountants, there is a lot of hesitation and fear of how these automations could affect their job. The senior staff have this belief that once the automation goes live, they will lose their jobs as they have become redundant to the company.
But in many of these cases, xSuite will advise financial leaders to bring everyone in the finance team on board including the accountants when making decisions to bring automation to the company. This is because, it will help them, especially the older staff, to see that it will make their work life easier than before as they no longer have to do these repetitive tasks and in most cases, they should not be afraid of losing their jobs.
Whereas for the younger workforce, automation will definitely be more enticing to them as they are much more tech-savvy. It will be much better for them as they can come in to work and immediately concentrate on the more value-added tasks and not sit there typing data into invoices which is rather boring.
How Senior Accountants And The Younger Accountants Can Complement One Another?
The older generation has vast experience when it comes down to how to conduct certain procedures and how to work particular invoices whereas the younger generation is more tech-savvy and can quickly adapt to any technology but may not be as experienced.
With both having their strengths and weaknesses, they complement one another greatly by covering where the other lacks and this can be a very healthy environment for any company. Having different generations in an accounting team will greatly benefit the company.
Remaining Forward-Thinking And Agile In This Ever-Changing Landscape
Seeing it from the finance perspective, finance leaders and CFOs have to look very much into what kind of technologies are available to help them improve their internal processes because companies really have to focus on their core business in delivering goods and services to their customers.
As there is an existing challenge in the digital supply chain, having a finance department that is flexible and quick in their operations is critical. Businesses must make sure that they pay all their invoices on time even when they have reduced staff and accounts payable.
“Having all your invoices paid on time will help businesses to secure their relationships with their vendors which is very critical right now,” states Marcus Rex, Managing Director at xSuite Asia Pacific.
So from this perspective, automation, technology and finance departments must be looked at as a whole by finance leaders instead of concentrating on just the finance department if they seek to remain forward-thinking and agile.