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Expert Knowledge on Digitalization & Automation of Business Processes

xSuite Blog

Expert Knowledge on Digitalization & Automation of Business Processes

2021 Payables Insight Report: Trends, Challenges and the Current State of AP

Topic: Digitalization | Invoice


The US consulting company Levvel has been conducting market research into procure-to-pay for many years now. As a sponsor of the 2021 Payables Insight Report, we are pleased to share some of its fascinating results here.

Key figures from accounts payable (AP)

In 2021, e-mail is the most prevalent method of receiving invoices — in other words, it is the most popular invoicing format, with companies receiving 40% of their incoming invoices by e-mail on average. Only about a quarter (26%) of the invoices they receive come in paper format, followed closely by supplier portals at 18%.

Companies face a wide range of challenges when processing invoices, from a lack of clarity through numerous vendor queries to duplicate invoices. The top challenges, however, continue to be manual data entry and inefficient processes.

To gain a better understanding of accounting departments, the survey investigated what tasks employees perform in addition to processing incoming invoices. The list is surprisingly long: maintaining master data, creating purchase orders, posting goods receipt, and communicating with suppliers are just some of the additional tasks performed by more than 40% of employees. Furthermore, in many smaller companies, the accounting department is responsible for accounts receivable as well as accounts payable.

Benchmark: workflows and automation in invoice processing

The report also provides a good overview of the current extent of digitization and automation in accounting departments. This may provide you and your company with useful benchmarks for evaluating your own progress with regard to automation. Comparisons with other companies could also help you identify potential for improvement. The report examines the areas of incoming invoices, invoice management and workflows, ePayments, supplier management, and reporting and analytics.

Another interesting theme is the role of emerging technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence and possible applications in invoice processing. Finally, the report offers a few tips for companies that have not yet deployed an automated invoice processing solution, sharing important points to consider when evaluating a potential solution.

About the report

Levvel surveyed 309 AP employees and managers for this report. The participants came from a range of countries, but the focus was on the US. Their companies were from a range of sectors. The 31-page report was published in April 2021. You can download the full report here.




Dina Haack is Head of Marketing at xSuite Group. She has been at home in the B2B software industry for around 10 years. At xSuite in Ahrensburg, her main topics are: SAP-integrated invoice processing, electronic invoices and automation.

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