As the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, CourseSmart is helping millions of college students and professors go paperless. CourseSmart itself is on a drive to eliminate paper from its office. The company doesn’t even own a copy machine and instructs employees to avoid using paper whenever possible. But the finance department was the biggest offender.
“We were drowning in invoices and spending way too much time processing paper,” admits CourseSmart CFO, Patti Randall. “I used to dread the weekly check runs when I would come in to my office and see a four-inch thick folder of paper invoices I had to go through.”
It wasn’t just all the paper that upset Randall, it was the effort it took to get each invoice approved. The biggest problem was the inefficiencies in the payables process. Each week, CourseSmart would receive about 40 invoices from contractors and suppliers via email and U.S. mail. The accountant would route the invoices to the appropriate department for review. The department head would then physically walk the paper invoices over to the CEO for his approval. But, depending on the CEO’s travel schedule, the invoices could languish on his desk for a week or two before he got around to reviewing them.
Paying a single invoice could take up to three weeks, which meant payments were sometimes late. It also meant that Randall would have to spend time fielding calls from angry vendors wanting to know when they would get paid. Worst of all, cash flow was very uneven because, when the CEO finally returned from a business trip, he would inevitably approve a large number of invoices at the same time, creating huge check runs and large spikes in outgoing capital.
Randall knew there had to be a better way. And when a friend in her professional networking group told her about Bill.com, she was desperate to give it a try. “Things improved significantly from the moment we started using Bill.com,” says Randall. Now, when invoices come in they are immediately uploaded to Bill.com, where they can be viewed and approved online. “Our CEO will literally approve an invoice in a matter of minutes after departmental approval is made,” she adds. “It’s scary how quickly he ap- proves them. The approval process has gone from weeks to minutes. Our CEO loves Bill.com because, no matter where he is in the world, he is able to review invoices and approve payments.”
What’s more, Bill.com helped CourseSmart eliminate about 20 to 30 hours in accounting work each month. As a result, CourseSmart was able to reassign its accountant to more strategic projects. Randall loves the fact that not only are all invoices online, but also the supporting contracts and documents behind those invoices. “I am fanatic about meeting our contractual terms and making sure we are adhering to all points and not overpaying on a contract,” says Randall. “All that information is now there for me in Bill.com, and it’s all just a click away.”
Randall was amazed at how easy it was to implement Bill.com. She thought it would take months to migrate legacy data to the new system and that it would take even longer for employees to get accustomed to using Bill.com. “Bill.com makes the implementation process so easy – it’s a matter of hours, not days, weeks or months,” she says. “That was my ‘wow’ moment. As for training our people on the system, Bill.com is so intuitive as such an easy product to use, the training is really minimal.”
At the end of the day, CourseSmart has a much better handle on its cash flow because it knows when money is coming in and going out. Randall uses the Cash Forecast view dashboard in Bill.com to match payables with receivables and gain a better understanding of what is happening with the cash.
“The CashView cash flow management tool, Cash Forecast,dashboard allows me know where we stand at a glance,” explains Randall. “I don’t have to go through multiple clicks to get to my cash position. I don’t have to look at my bank statement, I don’t have to open a file in QuickBooks. I can go to CashView Cash Forecast dashboard and get an immediate view of my cash.”
So, would Randall ever go back to the old way of doing business? “Never! No!” she says. “I can’t tell you what a huge relief it is having Bill.com.”