Tips for Dealing with Common Accounts Payable Problems

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Person writing out a check for a bill that needs to be payed

The accounts payable process is typically very labor-intensive for many small business owners. While moving to a paperless environment may help alleviate some of your accounts payable headaches, there will be new problems you’ll have to successfully navigate. Here are some of the most encountered accounts payable problems and several solutions to consider.

Common Problems with Accounts Payable

Double Payment

A vendor sends you an invoice for $100. Your company promptly pays this vendor $100, but a short time later another payment for $100 goes out to the vendor. Sometimes this can be the fault of the vendor sending an invoice in different ways (i.e. via fax and e-mail). Or the vendor moves to digital invoicing and emails more than one person in your company, effectively duplicating the invoice electronically. Or even worse, you print out a digital invoice twice.

Vanishing Invoices

Your company could get an invoice from a vendor and have that invoice get misplaced, or the invoice accidentally gets destroyed before ever making it into your A/P system. With digital invoices, how do you know which one is the original and which one is a duplicate?

Sending Payment Prior to Delivery

There are sometimes benefits to paying an invoice as soon as possible. However, if your company pays an invoice before a shipment arrives, that could lead to an awkward conversation with your vendor if any of the shipment arrives with damaged or missing items.

Matching Errors

A manual investigation is often required if a discrepancy is discovered between purchase orders, invoices and other documents. This often happens when multiple invoices are paid with one check, and the breakout of the invoices does not fit on the check stub or other payment documentation. It gets more complicated if your supplier applies payments haphazardly creating a past due account, all while you continue to pay the bills.

What You Can Do

Update Your Internal Controls

Have your A/P team help update internal processes and document how invoices should be handled. Pay special attention to separation of duties and full use of purchase orders to ensure invoices are accurate.

Limit Access to Cash Accounts

It’s more important than ever for someone without authorization to your company’s cash accounts to review bank reconciliations. Not only will this help to potentially uncover erroneous payments, but it could also help to uncover potential fraud that is occurring in your company.

Have one Inbox for Accounts Payable

All e-mails with invoices should go to one inbox. This will help reduce the chances that an invoice will be received or paid twice. Limit access to this billing address.

Track Key Performance Indicators

Create a report each month of all unpaid invoices and another report that shows payments made. Explore bank security features to identify duplicate payments and allows you to control checks that are confirmed for payment. Use your accounting software to help identify duplicate dollar amounts and duplicate invoice numbers.

Be Cautious with ACH

Giving a vendor automatic access to your firm's checking account needs to be tightly controlled. Explore ways to ensure you are reviewing these auto payments on a timely basis and that you are receiving supporting invoicing of these payments.

Please call if you have any questions about improving your business’s accounts payable process.


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Disclaimer

The information in this article is written as accurately as possible and to best of the writer's knowledge. However, there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes. Because of this and changes in circumstances, the information in this article is subject to change. This article is for informational purposes only and should not serve as professional, financial, medical, emotional, and/or legal advice. Readers may rely on the information on this article at their own risk, but they should consult a CPA, financial expert, or other professional for advice. Givilancz & Martinez, PLLC reserves the right to change and handle this article series, and therefore, may remove or alter any part of this article or the comments section. Any comments inserted by readers are not the responsibility of G&M PLLC and do not represent the thoughts or ideas of G&M PLLC.