7 Accounts Payable Trends in 2024

The past year in finance was riddled with economic uncertainty, accompanied by challenges like staffing constraints and the need to optimize efficiency with limited resources.

Despite the start of a new year and promises of rate cuts on the horizon, MineralTree’s 8th Annual State of AP Report revealed that many of these trends and hurdles aren’t fading away — they’re evolving. For finance professionals, understanding this landscape is crucial. It’s a call to action to recalibrate priorities and prioritize digital transformation and automation to keep pace with the shifting market.

This blog takes a deeper dive into 7 accounts payable trends that will help shape 2024.

Key takeaways

  • AP automation is critical for financial efficiency, especially in times of economic uncertainty
  • The landscape of decision-making is shifting towards data-driven strategies, with automation playing a big role in providing real-time insights
  • Back-office automation, especially in AP processes, will help businesses be more efficient and do more with less

State of AP Report 2022 Download

Top accounts payable trends to shape 2024

1. Cash is king (once again)

As 2024 unfolds against a backdrop of lingering economic and geopolitical uncertainty, businesses are adopting a cautious approach to their finances. Finance leaders are focusing on bolstering operational efficiency and cost reduction rather than taking risks. Keeping a close eye on their balance sheets, these teams are also monitoring cash flow more carefully and seeking to gain better visibility into their cash position.

To move the needle on cost-saving initiatives, many businesses are doubling down on back-office automation. AP automation remains a top priority because it provides substantial operational efficiencies and helps teams track payment flows and gain control over payment transaction timing. Automating AP processes also helps these teams do more with less — 61% of finance teams that have automated AP can process more invoices without increasing the size of their team.

Key Takeaway: As you embark on digital transformation efforts, take it one financial function at a time — but remember that AP is a great starting point.

2. Data-Based Decision-Making is Becoming Increasingly Important

The decision-making landscape is rapidly evolving, with data-driven strategies taking the forefront. Automation plays an important role in data-driven decision-making. It not only frees up time for teams to focus on strategic initiatives, but it can also provide real-time insights into upcoming expenses for better cash flow.

MineralTree’s platform expedites this shift by granting AP teams immediate access to analytical data upon invoice capture. With traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, finance teams must wait until invoices are posted, which is typically after invoices have been approved or paid. As a result, they may not have full visibility to all of their outstanding payables.

Key Takeaway: Search for automation solutions that provide access to actionable financial insights.

3. Hybrid work is the new status quo

Despite calls for employees to come back into the office, it appears hybrid work is here to stay — especially among finance teams. In fact, 68% of finance leaders surveyed said their AP work environments are hybrid or fully remote and 72% expect that number to increase in the coming year.

In these hybrid environments, automated AP processes become even more critical. It’s too challenging for remote staff to physically collect invoices, manually route them for approvals, check signatures, and authorize and distribute payments.

Key Takeaway: Ensure your work environment is optimized for all employees, no matter where they work.

4. Staffing in finance continues to be an issue

Finance leaders have faced significant challenges in hiring qualified staff in recent years. This trend is bleeding into 2024, with nearly half (45%) of finance leaders surveyed by MineralTree anticipating hiring challenges and delays in the coming year. These prolonged challenges place even more pressure on finance teams to do more with less.

What else does this mean for these teams? To start, expanding their use of back-office automation becomes critical in order to streamline payment processes and eliminate time-consuming manual efforts. Additionally, finance departments must ensure they have the tools, technology, and talent to build better predictive models and big data analysis capabilities.

Key Takeaway: If you haven’t, it’s time to start thinking about (and actively pursuing) back-office automation to do more with less effectively. Also, consider hiring freelancers or part-time workers with the skills to take advantage of automation if hiring full-time employees isn’t an option.

5. Vendor relationships and payment inquiries drive payment automation adoption

Critical supply chain disruptions in the last two years placed increased focus on strategic vendor relationships, which are only growing in importance. However, finance teams often get bogged down by vendor payment inquiries, data entry, and other time-consuming, manual tasks. This causes vendors to grow unhappy with long follow-up times for invoice status updates, which is their top pain point in the customer payment process.

At the end of the day, vendors want to be paid more quickly and accurately. Many vendors also prefer digital payments — 76% believe that buyers paying electronically are more likely to pay on time.

Key takeaway: Invest in payment automation to help solidify relationships with strategic suppliers.

6. Digital payments continue to rise

Digital payments are continuing to emerge as the cornerstone of cost-effective and secure payments. The trajectory is clear: 71% of companies are steering toward electronic payments, recognizing its pivotal role in modern finance.

However, our State of AP Report captures a critical pain point: 38% of AP teams said that enrolling and managing suppliers is their number one pain point. AP automation platforms with white-glove services, like MineralTree, can bridge the gap by handling the enrollment process and providing access to a database of suppliers that already accept virtual cards, as well as removing some of the roadblocks for those that typically won’t accept card payments via email

Key Takeaway: Work with technology partners that can help you seamlessly enroll vendors in digital payments processes and provide maximum return on investment

7. Beware of BEC

In 2024, CFOs must join forces with CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs to mitigate cybersecurity risk. Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams have become a major cause of fraud, impacting companies of all sizes.

In this all-too-common scam, a bad actor impersonates a vendor or company executive to access financial data, request changes to banking details, or receive fraudulent payments. These inquiries often come in the form of a fake invoice through a compromised company or vendor email account, or a spoofed email address from what appears to be a trusted source. AP teams are prime targets for these scams because of their access to sensitive payment account details.

As bad actors grow smarter and more sophisticated, BEC emails are becoming more targeted, making them appear more believable and urgent to unsuspecting receivers. Companies relying on manual processes are particularly at risk given the potential for human error and lack of automated processes and controls.

Key Takeaway: Establish a framework that facilitates regular communication and collaboration between your organization’s CFO and security and technology professionals (CIOs, CTOs, CISOs). Additionally, prioritize automation to eliminate human error that increases fraud risk.

Final thoughts

The finance arena in 2024 is a tale of adaptation and agility. With hybrid work, fraud risks, and staffing challenges here to stay, streamlining processes is priority No. 1.

Automation will be the key to achieving efficient and productive financial operations, especially in AP functions. By digitizing and automating manual tasks, organizations can operate more securely, gain access to data-driven insights, and maintain efficiency in their financial operations.

Contact MineralTree to explore how our solutions can help streamline your operations for greater financial agility.

State of AP Report 2022 Download


We're transforming accounting by automating Accounts Payable and B2B Payments for mid-sized companies. Our award-winning solution has helped over one thousand businesses transform accounts payable from a source of inefficiency and fraud risk to a secure and strategic profit center that provides visibility into key cost drivers.