Bob Cohen

Vice President of Research at Ardent Partners


Accounts payable is more important than ever to organizations, but challenges are holding the function back. The pandemic didn’t help. However, necessity was the mother of invention (or automation in AP’s case).

This new report has the latest data on what matters to AP practitioners: payment challenges, automation trends, early payment discount capture stats, average cost-per-invoice and cycle times, exception rates, impact of the “Gig” economy, what “best-in-class” AP looks like today, and the morphing skill sets of the next-generation AP organization.

The global report draws on insight from 205 respondents in more than 25 industries representing functions of AP, finance/treasury, and procurement. The majority of these respondents are from organizations with revenue over $1 billion.

Just a few appetizers from the feast of data in the report:

• Best-in-class AP organizations achieve 3.2 times more touchless processing than the average.

• 49% of AP leaders see AP as an intelligence “hub” for spend management and cash insights, and 47% see AP actively involved in cash management in the next two years.

• 53% of businesses planned to change how and when they paid suppliers in 2020.

“In 2020, 60% of organizations (up from 55% in 2019 and 52% in 2018) view the AP function as either “very” or “exceptionally valuable to organizational operations. AP has an extraordinary opportunity to shine in 2021 as it continues to evolve from a back-office role-player to a value-adding, strategic enterprise asset.”


The views and opinions in the report represent those of Ardent Partners at the time of publication. Sponsoring companies have had no measurable influence on the content and research in the report.

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