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AP Departments - What is the biggest pain point in Accounts Payable?

accounts payable process improvement ideas

What makes you crazy about the Accounts Payable process in your organization? What are your blue sky ideas for improving AP and accounts payable software.


Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

At my last corporate assignment, I assumed responsibility for the entire "req to check" process. Getting control of the vendor master was a huge forward step. Then insuring proper contracting, best pricing, clean invoicing, regulating the timeline for settlement to insure that discounts were part of the "deal" and systematically earning them, converting settlements to ACH and managing the vendors were additional steps needed to optimize the process.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

The last firm sold services to JC Penny. They insisted upon all vendors (no matter size and quantity of invoices) to use EDI.

What a waste of time and money on our side; and it work wonderfully on their side pushing terms out another 30-45 days.

However I do like the ability to receive invoices electronically and then we as a company having the ability to manipulate the accounting. Saves a lot of data input time.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Here's a good white paper that lays out the A/P process in an easy-to-follow workflow illustration, along with process improvements:

''Accounts Payable: Embracing The Strategic Evolution"

Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

There are pain points internal to the AP department and pain points external to the AP department, which include:

-Internal Pain Points - Recurring Payments associated with contracts - Proper management of this area, will avoid over payments to terminated contracts and missed payments to new vendors. Any situation that can disrupt the department's flow should be eliminated.

-External Pain Points - Multiple Offices - if your organization is composed of multiple offices around the country, another area of concern is ensuring those branches forward bills to the AP department on time, to avoid the creation of out of cycle payments.

Sue Ashe
Title: President and CEO MobileAccountantAZ
Company: MobileAccountantAZ
LinkedIn Profile
(President and CEO MobileAccountantAZ, MobileAccountantAZ) |

I usually deal in real time for all of my clients but I did help with consulting and simplifying a rather large construction contractor get their accounting up to date. The poor office gal was totally overloaded with phone calls and scheduling but then they dumped AP on her desk too. She had over 400 invoices a week to try and enter by hand. Since they were using 2014 QB Contractor I asked the larger vendors if they had anything online and sure enough they did. I was able to login to the company site and download in a CSV file all of the invoices for any given time frame - copy paste into a batch transaction and all 400 invoices were done in less than 20 minutes.
Hopefully more and more companies will follow suit.

Robert Israch
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Tipalti
LinkedIn Profile
(Chief Marketing Officer, Tipalti) |

The primary pain points we have seen include:
- Setting up new payees, including collecting and storing their bank info in a secure, consistent way.
- Collecting W8 / W9 and other tax info before any payments are made and validating the right form has been used, info accuracy, and calculating withholdings
- Time spent writing checks and logging in to different bank portals and manually entering data to pay suppliers. This can get particularly time-consuming and error-prone when having to pay overseas suppliers.
- Payment errors cost a lot of time resolving in addition to penalty fees and communications with the payee.
- Payee payment status communications.
- Performing payments reconciliation in a timely accurate fashion as part of the financial close process and ensuring your ERP system is up to date with the payment details and status.
- Filing 1099 and 1042-s tax reports every year.

Technologies are now starting to help streamline for some AP organizations.

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

1.Collecting credit card receipts to reconcile the statements.
2. Collecting invoices from our retail outlets. Stores have a habit of losing vendor invoices.
3. Being advised of credits from vendors. I even have an internal email from a vendor that I was not supposed to see advising that we have an open credit and not to let us know. Similarly I have to waste time chasing rebates that are due us.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

A new pain point, collecting ACH payment info so we no longer need to issue paper checks.

You'd be (or maybe you're not) surprised how difficult it is to collect the information.

(Senior Accountant) |

Biggest pain point for me is internal. Invoices come to me way after the agreement has been signed and the previous month has been closed. What are some proper vendor onboarding processes out there?


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