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Former Member

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) as football powerhouse? What some may consider an oxymoron has been turned on its head. This year, the M.I.T. football team went undefeated, qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III playoffs.

Accounts payable as transaction processing powerhouse? When left with only the manual processing of paper, this too can be considered more fancy than fact. But the opportunity to collaborate over a business network is proving to be a game changer for the AP function.

What AP can learn from the M.I.T. “playbook” is how to make it happen. At M.I.T, the formation of a football team was a grassroots effort, where students first formed a club team, then sold the concept of a formal program to school administrators.

Many AP organizations may need to follow that same approach. It’s a safe bet that many finance executives may not be aware of the impact of accounts payable in a networked economy. That leaves it to those in the trenches to spread the good word about the new business potential generated by AP from collaborating over a business network.

Consider the possibilities:

  • Extend visibility and collaboration to key transaction documents such as purchase orders, change orders, order confirmations, advance ship notices, invoices, and more.
  • Let network-based business rules handle invoice validation to drive high straight-through processing rates
  • “Flip” purchase orders, contracts, and service entry sheets into invoices to enforce compliance
  • Configure business rules at the country level and provide support for digital signatures
  • Enable collaboration over the timing of payment through dynamic discounting
  • Close the loop in procure-to-pay by sharing detailed invoice data for future sourcing and better spend management
  • Serve as an e-commerce channel for new business development, where buyers find key suppliers and suppliers identify new business opportunities.

Too much to tackle at one time? Then proceed at your own pace. M.I.T. developed its football program without jerseys or a field with goal posts. You can empower AP for collaborative commerce with simple adapters to your ERP or back end financial systems.

Need other ideas about how you can prepare your organization for a networked economy? Read more at Conversations on The Networked Economy.

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