When you think about accounting process pains, a few headache-inducing doozies immediately come to mind. Among these pains are inefficient software, as well as closing out accounts payable at the end of the month. Both catalyze a number of issues and related problems that result in delayed payments, the infamous paper shuffle, and inevitably, human error.
You’re well aware of the struggles… but the real question is: what do you do about it? We’re going to outline these process pains, and provide actionable solutions on how you can mitigate the insanity and bring some Zen to your accounting day-to-day.
Pain #1: Closing out the Month
Reconciling numbers at the end of the month is a constant looming thing the AP department must worry about. It’s narrowing down who has paid, who still needs to pay – checking invoices, calling vendors, and processing paperwork as quickly as possible. Although important, the repetition and tedium involved can leave anyone with glazed-over eyes and a penchant for rushing through something that must get done.
This rush job can mean something gets missed in a spreadsheet, or the wrong number gets written down. Then, when the CEO and other c-suite members take a look at the monthly reports, suddenly things don’t match up. Suddenly accounting is directly to blame, and you’re left frazzled and sifting through records trying to find where the inaccuracy is.
Solution: Dynamic spreadsheets and workflows
The transfer of spreadsheets between workers and departments can create misinformation, not to mention confusion as to which one is the most updated. You’d be surprised how many businesses still function with everything in Excel – it’s a recipe for disaster!
Not all companies can go to an automated platform overnight, but in the interim, consider using a secure and dynamic spreadsheet that tracks revisions (and who is making those revisions). Google Sheets is a great – and free – resource that you can start using for your financial and accounting documents. You get to control who has access, and what kind of access they have (for example, viewing and editing).
If you want to take things one step further, consider creating workflows for each task that needs to be completed before the end of the month. Then, there will never be a question of who needs to view what. Having that base guideline can come in handy to reduce the pain associated with approving an invoice.
Pain #2: Delayed Approvals
While having the workflow and knowing whom to go to is useful, it doesn’t necessarily help you push something through. Oftentimes, if you need to get an approval from someone in another department, that person is busy, and the delays can build.
First, it’s a day late, and then you’re asking for the seventh time for an approval. It disrupts your work day and requires you to call repeatedly and to keep sticky notes in a whirl of chaos to remember to get that invoice approved before you move forward. And who wants to be a nag, anyway? We’ve all got jobs to do – and the sooner the workforce enables each other, the better it will be for accounting (and everyone else).
Solution: Automation software
No one likes doing manual processes that are repetitive and low-value to an organization. That’s where automation’s handy-dandy bots come in! Rather than toil in the countless messages, calls, or emails you need to send as a “friendly reminder,” having a software fit for users and accounting processes expedites the process and eliminates the need for manual labor.
How, you may ask? With bots, of course! Imagine automatic notifications when you push an invoice through to the next step – no need to type out an email to the person; it’s already sent as soon as you complete the action.
Pain #3: Missing Paperwork
According to a McKinsey report, it’s estimated that employees spend about 1.8 hours a day – or 9.3 hours a week – just searching and gathering information necessary to do their jobs. Accounting is not immune to this, either, as paper processes are still very much a pain, and very much a reality in day-to-day operations.
Your AP department could get so much done if they got even a sliver of that time back over the weeks, months, and years. It happens – papers get misplaced. They get put in the wrong bin, or even get wrongly thrown away. The amount of waste produced from paper is astounding, and frankly, unnecessary in today’s digital age.
Say goodbye to paper; it’s inefficient, and just plain impractical.
Solution: Comprehensive document management
In accounting, you’re always searching for data, past invoices, and other information to help you along. Whether it’s searching by vendor, date, person, or a keyword, having proper document management can alleviate the pains and time spent looking for what you need.
This is especially useful during rapid growth, as having one central location to search for documents saves considerable headaches and worry. If there are any notes you need your team to be aware of, they’ll be attached directly to the digital invoice, so nothing gets missed. That way, if you have a vendor discount, for example, it won’t slip anyone’s mind. Something getting lost in AP will be a story of the past, as long as your entire team has buy-in and consensus to use a document management platform.
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