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Your accounts payable process is slowing you down

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Your accounts payable process is slowing you down

BY Shelly Lingor ON Jan 18, 2019

paper-based accounts payable

If you're even barely awake in today's world, you've heard the constant admonitions to go paperless. It's better for the environment! You'll be more organized! You can reduce clutter and only keep the things that spark joy! We're pretty sure you don't need to read another post about the benefits of going paperless—you already know you need to do it. So why haven't you done it yet?

Simple: it seems hard. You have your processes for getting things done, paying bills on time, and meeting commitments, and you don't have time to learn a new system, even if it does come with all the glam and glory of a paperless existence. So you keep doing what you're doing. After all, it's gotten you to this point, right?

Now, we're not here to force a life makeover on you. We specialize in helping companies use an accounting system that's efficient, insightful, and easy to use. But we realize that not everybody is ready to jump on board with big changes (even if we think they should). So, we'd like to suggest changing one little piece, because incremental change can be a lot easier to swallow—and because you can still reap some pretty great benefits.

How are you handling accounts payable in your business?

Does your accounts payable process look something like this?

  1. A vendor sends you an invoice.
  2. You print it out and stick it in your Bills to Pay folder.
  3. It sits there until you get around to paying bills, once or twice a month.
  4. On bill day, you pull out your folder and make a list of everything that's due, and then look at that total against your bank balance. 
  5. You find an unexpected invoice in the pile and send out a group email asking who hired this new vendor and what budget line item it falls under.
  6. You write out checks for the approved invoices and mail them to vendors or use your online banking bill pay system to send payments.
  7. You stick all the bills you paid in a Ready to File folder, which is bursting with stuff you haven't had time to organize.
  8. You put the unapproved invoices back into your Bills to Pay folder.
  9. You manually enter all the checks into your accounting software.
  10. A week goes by, and now the mystery vendor is following up on her invoice. You realize no one ever responded to your email asking who hired this person, so you start knocking on doors. 

And the cycle continues. Let's set aside the whole idea of paperless for a minute—how much precious time are you (or your bookkeeper or office manager or whoever pays the bills for your business) spending here, on a process that can be almost completely automated?

And there's a word that makes people cringe—automation. The truth is, automating accounting tasks is NOT about cutting a staff position because a robot can do that person's job. It's about streamlining tasks that a robot can do, in order to give the staff person more time and space to complete the tasks that require an actual human. Tasks like strategic planning for the business, interacting with customers, or coaching a struggling employee. From a tactical standpoint, we're talking about a better way to accomplish a necessary business process. But we're also talking about managing resources, like time and people, in a way that allows them to focus on the things that really matter to your business.

Just what is this robot system for automating my accounts payable, anyway?

Glad you asked. We recommend Bill.com to all of our clients for managing accounts payable. Almost every step in the list of tasks above is automated. Vendors send invoices directly into the system. You can require approvals from the appropriate people, and Bill.com takes care of getting those approvals for each bill. You can also decide who needs to see what information in the system, based on their role. There's a robust audit trail, which means that if there's ever a question about a payment, you can go back into the system and see who did what. Finally, if you use cloud-based accounting software, Bill.com syncs with your ledger. No data entry required. 

Doesn't that sound better than a big stack of paper? 

The best part is that you don't have to make any transition like this alone. We specialize in helping businesses move from paper or desktop-based accounting practices to user-friendly cloud systems. Contact us today to get started. 

Don't transition to cloud accounting alone. We can help with every step.