Managing accounts payable is time consuming, fiddly, and if it goes wrong, your clients are in trouble. And even if your clients are helping, it's the accountant or bookkeeper who has to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong. Here are four ways you can use automation to get closer to an automated accounts payable process which is faster, more efficient and more effective.
Where possible, I've tried to include ways of accomplishing these steps that don't necessarily use Receipt Bank.
I'm not even going to mention data entry for a change (though do we do extract data faster, more accurately and for less than any other tool. If you want to find out more, get in touch - we'd love to talk to you.)
1. Use email forwarding to prevent lost invoices
Email is now such a normal part of day to day life, that we are all guilty of taking it for granted. However, it's utility goes way beyond simply sending message.
Smart use of email forwarding can effectively turn your client's email client into invoice secretary. Here are a few ideas:
- Encourage your clients' regular suppliers to CC you in when they send their invoices through, so you get a copy straight away. This means there's no chance for your clients to forget to pass it on.
- Have you clients set up automatic email forwarding from regular suppliers/ suppliers' billing addresses to forward invoices to you once they arrive. Here's how to do it on Outlook or Gmail.
- To make it even easier, create an email for your client on your own company's domain, such as email@example.com. Your clients can send all their AP items there, functioning as a online filing cabinet where you can work through their documents.
If you're using Receipt Bank, clients can forward all their items to a custom email address firstname.lastname@example.org. We extract all the data automatically - it appears on your dashboard instantly.
2. Use free tools to stop chasing clients
Receipt Bank's new machine learning tools learn from your clients' submission habits and send them tailored submission reminders, straight to their mobile. These make them twice as likely to submit in real time. But what if that's not your cup of tea?
Boomerang is really neat Chrome add-on that supercharges your email. Among other uses, you can use it to schedule reminder emails for when you send a message and don't get a reply.
Depending on your client SLAs, you can set up automated weekly, monthly or quarterly email reminders for them to submit data. You can then use the time you used to spend chasing on the phone to do something more useful.
3. Line Item Splitting
Anyone who has spent hours going through invoices line by line to separate out expenditures knows that time can quickly add up. Receipt Bank has not one, but two features for making this process.
Firstly, we offer automated line item splitting on digital invoices.
When you submit a new digital invoice, we create a template for that supplier, if one does not already exist. Once we create the template, our system recognises individual items on the subsequent invoices and extracts them in just two minutes.
Each line item is extracted with its own description, category and price, which you can publish to your cloud accounting software with the original invoice image attached. It's really easy, and really useful
We also have a neat feature called Smart Split, which lets you automate transaction splitting further.
Smart Split creates split-templates which can applied automatically to suppliers of your choice. These can work by percentage split, or by fixed amounts. For example, a fixed amount line item is great for splitting out a flat shipping cost from the total value. Percentage splits, on the other hand, are perfect for splitting costs across two tax codes.
4. Bank Reconciliation
Bank feeds have caused a revolution in reconciliations. Products like Xero and QuickBooks Online bring your clients' bank feeds into the same space as accounts payable items, so you can match them up relatively quickly, even if you still have to publish items as 'Drafts' and match them before they can be 'Paid'.
However, one of Receipt Bank's lesser known features makes it even speedier, automating the process of finding the right transaction for the item.
Xero Match notices if a newly submitted item has a corresponding transaction in Xero, if:
- Supplier name matches
- If the total amount matches AND
- If the date of payment matches (match for date allows +10 days from the receipt date to allow for payment to be taken from the bank account)
That means you can publish your items as paid right away and reconcile them right away with full confidence.
If you're very cutting edge, you could look into one of the more cutting-edge bank accounts like Tide.co a business account which categorises your clients' transactions as they make them. They recently announced a partnership with Xero, so they're one to watch.