Having concrete, achievable goals are essential in accounts payable to help measure the performance of a business. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values ​​used to determine the success of an accounts payable team in meeting the goals set. It is important to select KPIs that reflect the specific business goals of the organization.

In this blog post, you will learn best practices for setting target accounts payable KPIs. We will discuss three key points to consider when setting targets: benchmarking, current capabilities and future goals.

Setting Goals That Are Clear & Relevant

Goal setting is an essential part of streamlining and improving the Accounts Payable process. It is important to set clear, measurable goals that are relevant to the Accounts Payable department. One of the best ways to achieve this is to combine quantitative and qualitative goals. These should be tied to objectives that focus on both the short and long-term results of Accounts Payable initiatives.

Combination of Quantitative & Qualitative Goals

Quantitative goals should be data-driven, measurable and benchmarked against industry standards. These typically focus on outcomes, such as cost savings, improved accuracy and timeliness, and supplier relationships. For example, a data-driven goal might include reducing the processing time for accounts payable invoices by 25% over the next quarter.

Qualitative goals often provide a more comprehensive view of the Accounts Payable process. They are typically used to evaluate the process improvements, organizational changes, and employee satisfaction that can affect accounts payable performance. Examples of qualitative goals may include increasing collaboration between Accounts Payable and other departments, or developing new processes that shortened the accounts payable lifecycle.

Utilize Data-Driven Insights

Data-driven insights can be useful when setting Accounts Payable KPIs. Leveraging analytics tools allows accounts payable teams to measure, monitor, and adjust their processes quickly and effectively. By tracking key metrics over time, accounts payable teams can easily evaluate the progress of their KPIs and determine whether they are meeting their goals.

Analytics tools also provide valuable insights into the performance of individual accounts payable activities. Teams can use this data to identify areas that need improvement and adjust their KPIs accordingly. This information can also be used to develop training plans and team objectives that will help the accounts payable function become more efficient and effective.

Develop A Realistic Timeline

Creating a timeline for account payable KPIs helps to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that goals are met. When developing a timeline, your team should consider both short-term and long-term objectives so that all targets are achievable and realistic.

Short Term Objectives

Short-term objectives are necessary for daily operations and keeping track of progress. This could include a timeline for tasks such as invoice payment, account reconciliations, and vendor communications.

Long Term Objectives

Creating a timeline for long-term objectives gives your team a better chance of achieving higher KPIs and a better understanding of the accounts payable process. This could include a timeline for tasks such as payment processing efficiency, average payment lag time, and reconciling accounts.

Review Targets and Make Adjustments

It’s important to review targets and make any necessary adjustments along the way. Some KPIs may need to be adjusted depending on the level of complexity of tasks or the capacity for workload. Allow for time to review any changes and to ensure that all targets are achievable.

  • Consider both short-term and long-term objectives when developing a timeline.
  • Allow time to review targets and make any necessary adjustments.

Monitor Accounts Payable Performance

Maximizing your company’s financial performance requires setting and monitoring KPIs for Accounts Payable. Establishing appropriate metrics and tracking progress helps to ensure timely payments and manage the entire payment process.

Track KPIs on a regular basis

Businesses should track KPIs that best reflect their specific accounts payable processes. Evaluating metrics that are important to their environment helps them to identify bottlenecks and potential areas of improvement. Examples of commonly used KPIs include: average payment time, invoice processing time, accounts payable cycle time, number of late payments, etc.

It is important to track this information on a regular basis in order to gain an understanding of the performance of the accounts payable process. This helps to identify opportunities for improvement and to ensure that the accounts payable goals are being met.

Measure progress to determine if the set target is being achieved

Once the relevant KPIs have been identified, businesses should monitor the performance of their accounts payable system. This involves measuring various performance indicators and analyzing the data to determine if the set targets are being achieved. Businesses should pay particular attention to key performance indicators such as invoice processing time, payment time, and number of late payments, as these are indicative of the overall performance of the accounts payable process.

Monitoring the performance of accounts payable helps businesses to ensure they are meeting their targets and can identify potential areas of improvement in the process. This helps to ensure that businesses maximize their financial performance.

Identify Areas for Improvement

When Accounts Payable KPIs are not able to help a business meet its desired performance targets, it is important to establish the root cause of the problem and identify the areas which need improvement. This can be done through comprehensive data analysis of the Accounts Payable process.

Gather and Analyze Data

To identify the areas for improvement in Accounts Payable, a business needs to gather and analyze data about the Accounts Payable process. This could include data on:

  • Accounts payables volume
  • Payment terms
  • Purchase order processing
  • Payment processing
  • Invoice processing
  • Reconciliation

By thoroughly examining the data around the Accounts Payable process, business owners and finance managers can identify the sources of bottlenecks in the system and come up with actionable insights to improve the performance of the process.

Actions to Resolve Issues

Once the areas that require improvement have been identified, businesses can take the following steps to resolve the issues and boost their Accounts Payable performance:

  • Implement technologies such as AI and automation to streamline the Accounts Payable processes and eliminate manual errors
  • Negotiate better payment terms with suppliers to reduce late payments
  • Optimize the invoice-to-payment process by introducing an early payment discount system
  • Develop an Accounts Payable strategy to ensure the efficient management of payments
  • Ensure that all the stakeholders involved in the Accounts Payable process are on the same page

By implementing the above-mentioned measures, businesses can improve their Accounts Payable performance and achieve their desired KPIs.

Review Performance on a Regular Basis

The most efficient way to ensure that accounts payable KPIs are being achieved is to review performance on a regular basis. This can be done through a manual review process or by using automated reports and analytics. Regular reviews will ensure any changes to performance standards can be identified quickly, enabling robust problem-solving strategies to be put in place accordingly.

Compare Current Performance Results to Set Target

A successful accounts payable KPI strategy involves measuring levels of performance and setting clear targets. This should be done to ensure accounts payable objectives are properly tracked and communicated throughout the organization. Review the current performance results for each KPI and compare them to set target benchmarks. Any discrepancies or deviations should be documented and discussed further to determine any necessary action.

Assess Whether Any Adjustments are Necessary

Once discrepancies between current performance and set target benchmarks have been identified, assess whether any adjustments are necessary. This may involve changing the target benchmarks, adjusting resource allocations, or introducing new processes and systems to improve performance. To make informed decisions, use data to evaluate the impact of any modification that is recommended.


The process of setting the right accounts payable KPIs is crucial in helping organisations to track and improve their accounts payable performance. When KPI setting is done accurately and appropriately, organisations will benefit from measurable improvements in productivity, financial gain, and positive financial management.

Ultimately, KPIs help to drive the strategy and objectives of the accounts payable department by providing objective goals to target. This can allow assistance from other departments to focus on priorities in order to sustain improvements, and therefore accelerate the transformation process.

By following the aforementioned best practices, organisations will be better equipped to define effective statements and develop KPI's that will support the company’s goals in the long-term. In doing so, it will promote best practices of accounting principles which will inevitably lead to a more profitable and successful business.

Outline Benefits of Improving Accounts Payable Performance

  • Increased profits
  • Reduced error rates
  • Increased insight and visibility into payment processes
  • Improvements in supplier relationships
  • Increase staff satisfaction owing to a reduction in time spent on manual processes
  • Better financial management

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