The pandemic is slowly fading, but its impact on everything from consumer-facing apps to invisible back-office accounting operations continues to be felt. Regarding the latter, PYMNTS conducted an extensive survey of 400 CFOs at companies with annual revenues between $25 million to more than $1 billion, and found active digital innovation in COVID’s wake.
The resulting study, Strategic Role of the CFO: How AP and AR Digitization Are Transforming Customer Relationships, a Versapay collaboration, finds that 70 percent of CFOs believe payments delays “were made worse as a result of the pandemic, and 61 percent say longer days sales outstanding (DSO) was a negative impact.”
New data suggests that as the crisis unfolded, “executives came to recognize opportunities for optimization amid the challenges, specifically in the area of accounting workflows and operations. Sixty-one percent of CFOs say circumstances around the pandemic have facilitated the incorporation of these practices, making it by far the most cited upside of the situation.”
Specific areas within finance departments that benefit from innovation agendas follow the money, literally, as CFOs prioritized accounting functions broadly — and payments in particular.
According to The Strategic Role of the CFO, “digitization of accounting operations is widespread, with at least 90 percent of firms in four sectors currently engaged in this process. Specific priorities emerge within each industry, however. Optimizing invoicing processes for customers and vendors is a standout priority for industrial and manufacturing firms — 73 percent of them are concentrating their digitization efforts on this area.”
Saving big numbers for last, 86 percent of CFOs surveyed see AR/AP digitization as “very” or “extremely” crucial in improving customer satisfaction, retention and revenue generation.
“The increased focus on customers and vendors is further reinforced by CFOs’ primary motives for technologically overhauling AP and AR. Nearly all (96 percent) “are doing so to benefit customers and vendors, 1.5 times the next most-cited motive, which is to automate manual processes. Other cited benefits include providing customers and vendors with a more efficient process (54 percent) and a more transparent process (52 percent),” per the study.