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Building the internal reputation of Accounts Payable

Feb 2024

4 min read

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Shared Services superstar, Kerry Hartshorn of Ibstock plc joins Alisa from Xelix down The AP Arms to share her top tips around stakeholder engagement, process improvements and harnessing data to showcase the performance of the no longer “sleepy back-office function” that AP can be deemed as. 


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A little bit of background on Kerry

Starting out as a Finance apprentice, Kerry is a Qualified Accountant with deep Shared Services experience, having worked across a multitude of sectors from tobacco to retail to manufacturing.  

 When Kerry’s not eyeing up orange face paint and green wigs (you’re going to have to watch the episode to get this reference!), she’s challenging the status quo on her mission to drive continuous improvement. She’s a big believer in systems and shares a little around her Xelix implementation.

“We’re processing invoices at sites and at the (Shared Service) Centre, meaning there's a large group of people processing invoices in different ways, which obviously opened us up to risk and issues around consistency.

Xelix has really helped plug that gap and helped us assert control by identifying invoice errors and duplicates, as well as do statement reconciliations. It’s a wonderful extra tool in our AP armoury”. 


Kerry's top tips for Shared Service Centre development

Joining Ibstock plc as the Head of Shared Service Centre in 2023, it’s Kerry’s responsibility to develop a best-in-class Shared Service Centre.

And that all starts with...


When Kerry joined the business, she asked for feedback from various business partners. 

“It’s important to know how you are seen and if you measure up to their expectations”. 

Kerry put a stake in the ground by sending out a survey to understand what the Transactional Finance teams were doing well and what needed improvement. A key finding for Kerry was around communication and collaboration.  

For example - when implementing a new policy, stakeholders expressed a keen interest in being included in the process. And for new policies to be communicated with better clarity. 

This triggered Kerry to look at collaboration across the full P2P workstream. She noted an opportunity for the AP team and Procurement team to work more collaboratively. 

“P2P should be seen as one function, sometimes the problems you might be seeing at the end of the process, which often sits with the AP team, could be resolved if addressed earlier in the chain.

This is only understood when you break down certain transactions, functions and processes that are going on within the P2P workstream.

Being able to collaborate and work closely with Procurement counterparts is super important and it is something we are keen to do.” 


Next, stakeholder mapping and engagement... 

“Knowing who you’re servicing, understanding who your touch points are with and who you need to influence and communicate with, is hugely important. 

Being aware of your impact on others and knowing who you’re going to receive requests from is key for communication mapping.”

Mapping stakeholder engagement enabled Kerry to then get to work developing relationships with these stakeholders. 

“We have been developing and strengthening relationships since getting here and establishing the right people in certain areas to identify better working practices and help drive improvements.” 


Harnessing data to drive the narrative and propel change 

Kerry puts it clearly - “Data helps tell your story and shine a spotlight not only on the areas needing improvement but where you’re doing well too."

During her monthly steering meetings on the Shared Service Centre development project, Kerry uses data to tell her story: 

“I present the Xelix dashboard. We can show how much we’ve recovered; how much we’ve prevented leaving the business – the real cash impact the AP team is having.”  

 As well as showcasing the AP teams' successes, this data helps Kerry drive forward other Continuous Improvement initiatives such as E-invoicing. “Data is great to help drive decisions and to help us know what we want to do in the future."


Bucking the trend 

We asked Kerry to caption this image relating to her role as Head of Shared Service Centre, so we could create a her a meme to take away from The AP Arms... and we've got a feeling this one's going to resonate 🥁🥁🥁


A screenshot of a cell phone

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Watch the short video interview to get the full scoop. Huge thanks to Kerry Hartshorn for joining us at The AP Arms and sharing some brilliant insight. 

Interested in popping in? Let us know – as a new establishment ‘round here, we’re always looking for more guests!

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