An overloaded, transition-resistant role
Running an AP helpdesk is not easy. For starters, helpdesks typically experience a high inflow of inquiries, and the volume can fluctuate a great deal – making it difficult to staff the helpdesk reliably.
This inefficiency and neglect can have a negative impact on supplier relationships and even lead to suppliers restricting credit and shutting down plants in response to delayed or missed payments.
The impact can also be long term. A supplier who receives a late payment and then has an unpleasant experience chasing its money is in a stronger negotiating position when it comes to agreeing on annual pricing. So the impact on the bottom line is significant.
The challenges don't end there: helpdesks are expensive to run because of the amount of human involvement they require. They typically absorb 10%–15% of the overall accounts payable organization's work, which is a huge drain on costs and resources.
Working on a helpdesk also requires resilience, considering employees must handle difficult complaints. So morale can be low and turnover high. Left unmanaged, this damages both efficiency and the bottom line because hiring and training new staff attracts cost.
Helpdesks are also rarely the focus areas for advanced technologies as they are considered to be more transactional than innovative. Many processes are still manual, and technology is outdated. Enterprise-grade digital technology enablement in this space has not kept pace with the advances in other areas of business.