Accounts Payable & BPM - Aberdeen Group on Best Practices, Governance, Process Capabilities

BPM software advocates need look no further than the regular reports from the analysts at Aberdeen Group for terrific examples of BPM in action.  The latest example, by Analyst William Jan, is AP Invoice Management in a Networked Economy (you can acquire this report without charge for a limited time via the embedded URL; registration is required).

The world of business process is about the processes at the core of any business.  And for this reason unless you are an insider in any given function or vertical market, it's difficult to acquire in-depth knowledge about business processes in real life.  Organizations tend to be reticent about revealing the secrets about how they do business; and as well, in any given function the processes reflect the complexity of corporate life and one is not likely to master that complexity over night. 

So, for these reasons, the work by Aberdeen Group is very welcome.  Their analysis work focuses especially on identifying best practices in various corporate functions, such as sales, accounts payables, inventory management, and so on.  And although Aberdeen Group includes technology in its analyses, their work is refreshingly "business first".

The case of Accounts Payable is a nice example of an end-to-end process analysis of an important corporate function.  Using A/P practices as a measure, and compared to "laggards", best-in-class organizations manage their A/P to deliver much better cash flow, which can have a huge impact on bottom lines. 

Aberdeen Group's report highlights the specific practices and capabilities which distinguish A/P winners from laggards.  And these capabilities include technical capabilities which BPM champions are very familiar with: A/P integration with ERP, B2B integration with suppliers, etc.  But the context of these technical capabilities is the overal importance of end-to-end A/P governance.

As for today's hot meme around "social BPM", Aberdeen Group highlights the importance of collaboration both between organizational actors inside the firewall, and collaboration between A/P staff and suppliers outside the firewall.

Clearly BPM has an important enabling role to play for organizations seeking to improve their A/P game.  The successful use of BPM anywhere will always be very specific, and there is no such thing as "generic BPM".  Aberdeen Group's analysis of the current state of A/P practices is a good place to start learning how BPM can be useful.