Using data-driven AP to make better business decisions

Integrating your data streams is a great way to drive success for your business. Once you move to a single platform for handling your travel, expenses, and other accounts payables (AP), you’ll find it’s easier than ever to drive insights from the data you’re collecting. But that’s just the first step. To drive even more value from your AP data, the decision-makers in your business must be able to make sense out of that data. Cloud computing makes it a lot easier to both gather the data that’s coming at us and make sense of it. Data from accounts payable streams can help you spot trends, identify weak spots in your business’s cash flow, and empower the people who are making decisions for the business. That last part, of course, is the challenge. For the data to be useful, the people in charge have to understand it—and sometimes that’s difficult when you’re talking about people who don’t have financial backgrounds. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure you successfully package AP data for other leaders in your organization. Here are the strategies we’ve found helpful:  


Keep it simple

Thanks to the cloud, it’s easier than ever to generate a lot of insights from a whole lot of data. The trick isn’t gathering data anymore—it’s knowing which data points are important enough to surface. Anyone can overwhelm a meeting with sheaves of PowerPoint slides, but it takes a leader to be able to pull out the most significant numbers and use them to his or her advantage.  


Make it visual

Budgets and numbers are where the financially-minded live—but others in your organization may not have that kind of facility with spreadsheets. We recommend using visuals to display key insights from your data. Pull out the key insights or drivers and illustrate them in an infographic, or even a chart—anything to give the idea some visual heft. People who don’t respond to columns of numbers on a spreadsheet will thank you—and perhaps more important, they’ll be more able to grasp the point you’re trying to make.  


Make it real

When you’re putting together a report, use clear, simple language and avoid jargon.

The problem with jargon is that it’s exclusionary—those who aren’t in the know will stay that way. Think about your audience and make sure that what you want to say is as plain as possible. In addition, consider taking the numbers and applying them to real life. For example, if your business spends $127,000 on towel service for the employee gym every year and you’d like to suggest that people simply bring towels from home, make that part of your infographic.  


Use one source

No matter how good your data is, if it is consolidated from different sources, it’s suspect. It could be written over, duplicated or out of date, and you’ll never know it until the moment it becomes all too apparent that your data is flawed. Maintain your data in one location and police its editing rigorously. Being able to package data and form insights is difficult to do without being on a single platform. Managing travel, expenses and accounts payable together is the first step to driving actionable insights to empower decision makers within your company. To learn how can Concur Invoice can help, visit here.

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