Comptabilité Fournisseurs: meilleures pratiques et conseils pour l … – Decision-achats

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For too long and too often, the Accounts Payable department has been considered as a simple back-office function, necessary but somewhat repetitive.
The invoices are coming in, the payments are being made. But as Finance Directors have come to realize the value that Accounts Payable can add (e.g., improving cash flow), these departments are now encouraged to develop and implement best practices.
 
Every AP department must strive to become a best-in-class department. To do this, it is necessary to transform the way the overall AP process is managed, with invoice processing as a priority. This includes data entry, invoice reconciliation, approval workflow and, finally, payment.
Companies now understand that, although it is only one step in the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) cycle, the bookkeeping process is the only step that is responsible for ensuring accurate, timely and fraud-free payments.
Essentially, Accounts Payable receives invoices and the data on those invoices must be aligned with the correct account and cost center data, either through automation or manual entry. Next, these invoices must go through 3 ways matching to match the purchase orders and, if possible, the receipt notices. At this point, the invoices are either sent directly to your ERP system or forwarded to the appropriate people for validation and then published for payment.
But that's not all: you also need to consider the time the Accounts Payable department spends on billing-related tasks such as handling exceptions, processing supplier requests for payment, retrieving paper documents (purchase orders and goods receipts), and identifying approvers to ensure that payment is made on time.
However, there are steps you can take to eliminate or minimize the problems that keep your Accounts Payable department from performing at its best.
By optimizing accounting entries by streamlining invoice processing, you can ensure the accuracy of invoices and send them automatically and directly to the ERP or accounting system for payment, without any human intervention, so your Accounts Payable department can focus on exceptions.
This extra time can be used to find ways to increase cash flow, improve supplier relationships, identify opportunities for favorable payment terms and better manage working capital.
By focusing on each of the ten practices below, the Accounts Payable department will be able to ensure that payments made are accurate, timely and free of fraud.
Each of the practices in this list should be followed whether or not you automate your processes with an AP management solution. However, the reality is that optimizing these practices, and therefore your processes, becomes much more likely when you eliminate paper invoices and manual processes that are inherently costly, time-consuming and prone to human error.
Regardless of the size of your company, when your accounts payable department goes digital and uses an accounting entry generation software, you'll quickly see the benefits of automated processes, including the fact that the cost of processing an invoice is 2.94 $ for the best accounts payable organizations versus an average of 15.96 $ for others.
Processing invoices takes time. Automating the process removes the burden of tracking invoices from your staff by putting it in the hands of a system that will handle the steps automatically, including reconciliation. If you have seasonal peaks in invoice volume, an automated solution can help you increase your processing capabilities.
Depending on the size of your company and the volume of invoices received, keeping track of amounts and upcoming payment dates is essential to manage cash flow while avoiding late payments, which can damage your relationship with suppliers. When prioritizing, invoices should obviously be paid in order, according to due date and payment terms.
If you receive hundreds or even thousands of invoices each week, or if you have a seasonal business where the volume of invoices skyrockets at certain times of the year, it can be difficult to ensure timely and accurate payments. It is also necessary to match the invoice with the purchase order and receipt of goods (if applicable). You should avoid sending an invoice for payment until you have verified that the product is received and matches the invoice, or that the service has been performed.
You should also be aware of the early payment discount opportunities offered by many suppliers. Since the automation of Accounts Payable speeds up the approval process considerably, you will be able to identify and take advantage of these discounts. If there is no discount, then it is best to pay your invoice on time, but not before it is due, to better manage your cash flow.
The more complex the system, the greater the chance of errors or delays in payment. Review your existing workflows and identify bottlenecks in the approval process. Streamlining the approval process also requires centralizing and standardizing processing and reporting across the organization.
Paper and manual processes tend to slow things down. Automation can reduce the time to invoice processing up to 70 %, while ensuring accuracy and timeliness of payments. It is critical that your Accounts Payable department implement detailed rules, even with automation.
Companies operating multiple sites authorized to make purchases need to ensure that all invoices are routed to a centralized location for processing and payment. If you are still using a manual legacy system, you may want to limit yourself to two trips to the bank per month.
You can't manage or improve what you can't measure. So, if you're making changes to your processes, set specific goals and KPIs to determine how well your department is adhering to the new or revised processes, especially once you've automated those processes.
Start by assessing your service's current status with respect to the metrics listed below. Next, measure the performance of the service after implementing an automated system. Metrics you should look at include:
Ongoing measurement will show the value of automation. However, lack of automation should not be an excuse for not tracking these KPIs.
When it comes to money, there is always the possibility of fraud. Fraud can come from many sources: cybercriminals, vendors, even your own employees. And when paper checks are the source of payment, the risk of fraud is even higher. That's why mitigating this risk is directly related to compliance with policies and procedures.
Cybercriminals operate a wide range of scams that don't necessarily aim to hack your organization, including when they mimic a vendor's email address and request that payment be made to another account. Employers may create fictitious vendor accounts; vendors may have their own employees attempting the same thing.
Accounting automation helps combat this problem with a more rigorous validation tracking system and a clear audit trail. Real-time visibility into the status of each invoice and automated 3-factor matching will help detect anomalies and outright errors and flag them for further investigation.
The steps to eliminate duplicate payments are much the same as fraud detection and control measures, except that here it is usually not intentional. Again, manual processes and paper documents can mean duplicate invoices are sent for payment. A supplier may send an invoice by mail, then email the same invoice to ensure it is received. With manual systems, especially if you receive a lot of invoices, an employee may forward both invoices for payment.
Your payment system must be able to flag the duplicate invoice, thus stopping the payment. This assumes that your system can detect most, if not all, duplicates. If you are handling invoice approval manually, you cannot simply rely on the system; you must have Accounts Payable monitor the invoices continuously to avoid duplicate payments. The transition from manual to automated processing will eliminate duplicate payments.
The more people who have access to the payment process, the more likely errors and duplicate payments are to occur. Combat this by implementing internal controls, including separate segregation of duties by employee so that no one person controls all steps (from invoice approval to payment) and only specific people can access the vendor master file. Implement internal Accounts Payable control processes that will reveal where errors and bottlenecks occur.
System-level controls help identify and correct structural inefficiencies in the process, which will help you avoid security breaches and detect potential fraud. Again, because automation limits the need for multiple human interactions, there will automatically be fewer people involved in the process.
When you work to standardize your payment terms, you free up working capital, better control your cash flow and optimize payment processing. This is especially important in companies that use multiple suppliers, each of whom wants to negotiate their own payment terms. Standardizing these terms helps make your workflow more efficient. It also prevents ad hoc negotiations with individual suppliers that can have a negative impact on your APO, affecting the APO bottom line.
However, establishing standard payment terms should not preclude renegotiations. Your team should do their research and make sure your supplier is offering the same or better terms than they are offering to similar companies. If you are at a disadvantage, it's time to renegotiate. Although invoices typically arrive on a 30, 60 or 90 day cycle, you may find that taking advantage of early payment discounts outweighs other benefits.
You should also consider payment methods when negotiating with suppliers. Reducing the number of paper checks that need to be filled out and mailed will reduce costs and delays in payment due to routing issues. We recommend that you centralize and manage all of your supplier payments electronically, with a variety of payment methods, including wire transfers or virtual cards.
Exceptions continue to be a major challenge for the CFP; they result in payment delays and often excessive time to handle vendor requests and concerns (both by phone and email). Resolving these issues quickly is critical to maintaining sufficient cash flow. An automated approval process will send invoices corresponding to purchase orders directly into the ERP for payment, so your AP team only has to deal with exceptions. Since these exceptions are quickly identified, they can be resolved in a timely manner.
Streamlining your tracking and dispute resolution process benefits you and your suppliers. On-time payments improve your relationships with suppliers. Conversely, tracking disputes can help you identify suppliers who consistently have problems, and lead you to seek alternatives. On your end, your employees spend less time answering calls and emails, so they can focus more on value-added tasks.
In a global business environment, suppliers can be acquired, contact information can change and companies can move. These types of changes can prevent your system from recognizing invoices, and this can result in late payments or worse, payments sent to the wrong address.
An Accounts Payable automation solution that offers a supplier portal will eliminate these problems, as suppliers will be able to log in to change their information as needed. But for this to happen, your solution and your suppliers' systems must be compatible.
Adhering to these practices and continually improving the Accounts Payable process will help optimize the approval process, eliminate late payments (and late penalties), and ultimately give you better control over your cash flow. But paper and manual processes will only make it harder to achieve your goals. Implementing an AP automation solution will take your AP department to the next level.
 
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