Blog | August 1, 2018 | by Michelle St. Rose

Strange but True: AP Automation Doesn’t Necessarily Eliminate Jobs

The biggest fear for many finance professionals is that automation and technology may cost them their jobs. When it comes to finance, that is just not the case.

We’ve all seen movies or read stories about a future where machines do all the work and humans become almost ancillary. We do know that robotics and automation have indeed cost jobs in the manufacturing sector. So it’s not surprising that many people in a wide variety of industries feel that when technology comes in the door, the exit isn’t that far away for them.

A CFO article regarding a new study from the Financial Executives Research Foundation and staffing firm Robert Half should dispel that fear. The survey of 1,730 financial executives found that although technology is increasing efficiency in the finance departments (AP, AR, Treasury), rather than letting people go, companies are looking at their employees as important strategic resources that can be used to perform more value-added tasks.

Here are the surprising findings for companies that have implemented automated solutions:

  • Only 3% of U.S. executives (6% in Canada) are considering reducing headcount
  • 59% of U.S. executives (slightly less in Canada) will maintain their current staff levels
  • 17% of U.S. executives (22% in Canada) intend to expand their finance and accounting staff specifically because of advanced technology

Christopher Westfall, vice president of content strategy for Financial Executives International, noted, “New automation is coming at such a clip that they [finance executives] need their people to oversee the automated tasks.”

New technology requires new skills

Where finance professionals express concern, however, is finding people with the right skill sets to work with this technology. Colleges and universities are graduating accounting and finance students that are ready to work with yesterday’s processes and technologies, not tomorrow’s. This creates a situation where there are more jobs available than people to fill them. When companies have staff with the necessary skills, they use them for more strategic initiatives. According to the survey report, “As business demands change or rise due to digital transformation, many financial executives now have the flexibility to put their best people on those projects.”

We have often talked about the opportunities that can open up for the AP professional when automated solutions are implemented. Instead of spending time on rote and repetitive tasks that software can complete more efficiently and at a lower cost, personnel can be used in those areas that really need the human component…strategizing ways to make the company more productive and more profitable. Finance staff should not look at technology as a threat but rather as an exciting opportunity.

Discover how AP automation can open up greater possibilities for your company and your staff.

Michelle St. Rose is a Business Solutions Architect at Corcentric. Prior to Corcentric, she worked as an Assistant Controller at AAA of New York.