COVID’s Impact on AP and Expense Processing

Ted Power Ted Power
How have payments been impacted by the pandemic, and what can be done to resolve these challenges?

We recently conducted a survey of more than 500 corporate finance and travel professionals about the impact of the pandemic on AP payments and expense reimbursements at their organizations. The dual impact of organizations being more financially prudent and finance teams working from home instead of in the office has been significant in their ability to process them in a timely manner.

The results showed that COVID-19 has had long-lasting effects on finance teams and how they operate. This is especially true for those that previously relied on manual processes, as working from home has made it challenging for paper-based data to be shared. The survey found that:

  • In 30% of organizations, COVID-19 has delayed the processing of invoices; this number jumps to 40% in organizations with 500+ employees. While these delays could be for a number of reasons, the impact of larger organizations delaying AP payments could have a more serious impact, as they will likely have a greater impact on the supply chain and the financial health of smaller organizations with fewer cash reserves.
  • In 12% of organizations, COVID-19 has delayed processing and reimbursing employee expenses. This means that employees are waiting even longer to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, during an already difficult time for many. While this may not cause problems for an expensed lunch or Uber ride, waiting longer to be reimbursed for larger expenses like work from home furniture and IT equipment can place a serious financial burden on employees. With 88% of organizations relying on reimbursement (vs prepayment) for employee expenses, this could cause significant cash flow issues.

One area where COVID-19 has driven positive (if necessary) change is as a driving force for financial process digitization. With offices closed due to COVID-19, many finance teams reported that it is increasingly inconvenient and logistically complicated to collect invoices from the mail or deliver printed checks to the post office.

While this shift to automation was driven by the need to bring paper processes online during the extended period of working from home, it has had many positive effects including happier employees and finance teams. One of the main reasons for this has been enabling teams to offload time-consuming, paper-based tasks, which allows them to focus on higher value tasks.

Here are some of the tangible time savings our customers have experienced by switching from manual to automated expense processing in the last year.

Emburse survey data

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