Payments ‘going out’ of a business are never fun, both in terms of work involved around it and emotionally for a business owner.
In an old school conventional office setting,
- You issue a purchase order (optional)
- Receive goods and services
- Receive the bill (often times mis-referenced as ‘invoice’)
- Receive approvals from relevant management layers
- Receive finance approval
- Pay by a check, wire or ACH
- Issue a 1099 at year-end if the payments are for a ‘service’ and the vendor is not a corporation (typically, an individual, LLC, LP, LLP) with certain exception to the general rule.
In the last few years, there have been multiple all-in-one fin-tech solutions that has made the AP process a whole lot easier, more efficient and secure, and has digitized the ‘audit-trail’ of the transaction from start to end.
Solutions like bill.com provide a neat platform for AP. If set up right,
In a paperless operational finance office setting,
The GL system (Like QBO) is synced with the AP system (like bill.com)
- The purchase order is created with the GL and sent out (optional)
- Receive goods and services
- Bill is sent to the “inbox” of the AP system directly by the vendor or forwarded by the company recipient (if received by mail, scanned into it)
- Bill is processed and coded by the accounting staff within bill.com
- Approval requested electronically via bill.com
- “Payer” will click and pay, which will go out as an ACH payment (AKA e-pay) if the recipient has agreed to receive e-pay. This is the case in about 90% of the time as everyone like a faster payment. In about 10% of the cases where the payee is a large organization that does not adopt payer specific methods, bill.com will send out a check (similar to how a payroll system work, bill.com will pull money from company account and send their own check, which is trackable)
- Accounting, as preset, will be automatic via the sync
The only caveat to above is that most e-pay will take at least a day or two to land in the recipient bank account. So, if you are in a hurry or need to wrap the transaction on the spot (say a plumber is waiting in the lobby after fixing your kitchen sink) it is good to have a backup plan like “Deluxe E-Checks”. In the case of Deluxe, you can generate an electronic check that goes out in the form of an email that the recipient can print and deposit like any other check; or request Deluxe to deposit as an e-pay (for a small fee).
So what are the advantages in dropping old-school way?
- No cabinets full of old bills and copies of checks
- Vendor onboarding is automatic
- Data integrity is intact (The vendor fills his/her data securely on their own dashboard)
- Information updates are done by the vendor (like a change in the bank account)
- No more lost checks
- Fully digitized audit trail, including the approval process
The key to having an accurate AP process is the right setup and maintenance of the systems. As we all know, systems don’t think critically. They are ‘servants’ of human instructions. That is why having a team like ‘cfo plans’ is crucial in order to have a fully functional, clean AP process.