Blog|3 min

Don’t be scared: protect your business from these 5 accounts payable monsters

Does the thought of audits, lost financial documents, messy approval chains, and slow manual processes send shivers down your spine? If you’re like many business owners, you’re passionate about your core operations but less enthusiastic about paperwork.

The bad news is that if you neglect your books long enough, you may soon have a host of accounting monsters lurking in your back office.

However, there’s good news too. With a little bit of courage and the help of some new strategies, you can avoid or defeat the monsters of accounts payable. Hear how to keep your eyes peeled for the five biggest threats looming over your books, and how automation can help keep them at bay.

Watch out: paper-based processes

Does a stack of paper bills, invoices, and audits lurk in your back office? Despite the digital revolution, many business owners still rely on paper-based processes for things like invoicing, checks, and other activities. But paper can quickly pile up —literally— which reduces efficiency, raises the risk of crucial documents getting lost, and creates a monster in the back office.

The monster sucks up your time. Bee Nance from Generation Teach once had to organize 540 checks for 180 teaching fellows, “I spent days shuffling through them all, getting them organized, and then mailing them to the city directors.”

The terror: complex AP approval procedures

Unfortunately, many businesses rely on an unnecessarily complex accounts payable approval process. This process might involve multi-department approval chains, which can introduce errors and slow your procurement process to a crawl.

Jennifer Jones came face-to-face with this monster when she joined the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. “When I joined, we were still using a paper accounts payable process,” Jones remembers. Worse still, the company’s AP structure was split into multiple accounts with utility companies and security providers. “I have so many other things to do while I'm here, I need to go digital.”

Kristopher Houchin also met the monster when working for Arizona Auto Parts. “There was no defined process,” he laments. “We wrote checks for everything — sometimes before invoices were in the system to make sure payments went out on time. Others might sit on someone’s desk for weeks because we didn’t need to send them yet. There were plenty of horror stories. Lost checks. Checks needing to be voided and recut. It was a real waste of time and resources.”

The more complex your AP approval process, the more likely you are to experience delays, rejections, and human error. You could even run afoul of your suppliers, incurring late fees and sabotaging your working relationships.

Beware: the audit monster

This monster thrives on undocumented processes and procedures.  Every audit requires documentation. But what happens when documents are spread out between departments—or missing altogether?

Depending on your industry, you may be required to maintain careful documentation as part of a larger regulatory strategy. “We are a nonprofit that has an annual audit, as well as program audits from our funders several times a year,” explained Christy O’Neil, CFO at The Life Link. “We are required to have controls that help eliminate fraud.”

Warning: old-school processes

Data entry, reconciliation, payments, and approval are all essential processes, but the more time you commit to these routine tasks, the less time you’ll have to devote to your customers. Before long, your typical workday gets devoured by this time-stealing monster, leaving you little margin to expand your business.

This monster prefers slow-moving, legacy processes. It circles the office, favoring activities like writing checks by hand. It is an obstacle to automation and risks demoralizing your employees with time-wasting activities better spent in more profitable areas.

That’s what Brian Basinger discovered. As the founder and executive director of Q Foundation, Basinger realized he had to do something to improve the performance of his company. He and his team were spending two weeks out of every month writing and mailing checks. Unless they could get out of this pileup, scaling the program was impossible.

Danger, danger: the manual monster trap

The more manual processes you rely on, the more likely it is that you’ll introduce a mistake into your business documents and order forms. The longer you ignore this monster, the more powerful it becomes, swallowing up your time, energy, and desk space. This was the case for aboutGOLF, a company whose accounting staff was spending up to 10 hours a week writing checks and stamping envelopes.

With hundreds of bills coming and going each month, danger lurked with every paper check and the potential for one manual error. If that error does occur, shudder at the time and money you’ll waste trying to clean up the mistake. It’s time to eliminate this monster once and for all.

Be the hero with automation

It’s time to slay these monsters. By automating financial processes, your business can take back time, strengthen controls, and increase efficiency. Audits will no longer instill fear. Paper processes can disappear into the night. Manual entry errors will scurry away.

The innovative platform offered by BILL can help you get more done in less time. And with more time on your hands, you can dream up new ways to scale and improve your company. When you don’t have to juggle so many details, you can feel less stressed and rediscover what motivated you to start your business. Goodbye, monster; hello, bright future. Sign up today and receive 30 days on us to see how our platform can transform every level of your business.


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