There are tornados taking place inside the accounts payable engine rooms of modern enterprises – they’re known as millennials. These change agents are blazing new trails, ushering in innovation and helping reinvent the profession.
Understanding their needs and expectations of the workplace are absolutely essential, as millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025. Smart finance leaders must look to accommodate them to harness their talents or risk losing them to more progressive companies.
Living in an age of instancy
Millennials believe in “today”, “now” and are completely accustomed to operating in a state of “instancy.” They grew up using technology such as the internet, computers and mobile devices, in an on-demand society with pretty much everything at their fingertips. As such, they have a technologically-influenced expectation of instancy in all areas of their lives, which includes their work life.
Age-old clunky accounting systems don’t compute with this generation. To digitally enable these workers and deliver information with the speed and ease they require, businesses need to provide access to information anytime, anywhere via mobile capabilities and streamline insights to action through analytics and dashboards.
Intuitive systems and instant access to information can help employees get up and running quickly — especially beneficial for millennials who want to have an immediate impact in the workplace.
Work from anywhere flexibility
In the past, work was attached to a specific location. Thanks to mobility and the cloud, work has shifted from a place to a space, says Ryan Jenkins, millennial and Generation Z expert and speaker.
According to several surveys, one of the biggest perks millennials want in a job is flexibility, which can greatly improve work-life balance. For today’s millennials in the finance department, the lines between personal time and work time continue to blur, and businesses must meet millennials’ expectations that business be conducted anywhere at any time.
To support this need, mobile apps are giving line-of-business and AP managers the ability to manage invoice processing anytime, anywhere to accelerate processing and keep accounts payable running smoothly. They also support millennials’ need for streamlined navigation and functionality, and modern ease-of-use.
Leading the digital payment revolution
Much has been written of millennials’ money mindset, which has had tremendous bearing on the fintech wave, ushering in a dramatic re-envisioning of the role of banks and financial institutions. Millennials have been bullish in adopting digital wallets and similar types of digital transaction services to pay for goods and services that eliminate the need for physical currency.
It’s probably no surprise then that this is also trending in the enterprise, where we have seen the rise of ePayments to support the “last mile” of modern, progressive accounts payable processing. The move to touchless electronic payments significantly reduces the overall cost and manual effort involved with the invoice payment process. With millennials at the helm of today’s AP and finance departments, expect the trend of ePayment adoption to continue at a staggering pace.
Providing a sense of purpose
Embracing new technology in the accounting department can embolden and empower businesses to be more attractive to millennials. It can also help in the transformation of AP from cost center to profit center, satisfying millennials need for purposeful work.
“Instead of ‘paper pusher,’ think ‘power player,’ says Stepanie Dula, with PayStream Advisors. “Innovative payables operations are utilizing automation technology to create more efficient invoice workflows that provide more visibility and business intelligence than in previous decades, which in turn frees up more time for employees to take on higher-level strategic duties. These organizations are able to describe the AP department as a critical hub of revenue generation, a place where savvy, creative finance professionals can come to act more like a detective than a back-office drone, finding new ways to build the bottom line and drive growth.”
Millennials are driven to make an impact, are ambitious and goal-oriented. To this end, they are making a name for themselves as “AP activists” — helping usher in a paradigm shift – moving AP away from a focus on operational efficiency to value creation and from data entry to more strategic activities. To this end, millennials are ideal to help spearhead initiatives such as supplier enablement and dynamic discounting that are helping organizations capture savings of up to 2% of corporate spend and $5 per payment in benefits – by unlocking the value in their payables.
Supercharging digital transformation
Millennials can be a great asset for companies that must disrupt how they do business and leverage new technology-enabled models to drive greater value. Tech-savvy and eager to learn and try new things, millennials can supercharge digital transformation in accounts payable and the finance office.
To provide the visibility and agility needed to fully capitalize on opportunities, organizations must look to leave their legacy technology and thinking behind and re-envision their enterprise fintech footprint.