Accounts Payable is a critical function in every finance department. It requires a number of both “soft” and “hard” skills to be truly successful. Many people, even those in other finance roles, are not aware of all the tasks involved in managing a smooth Accounts Payable process.
In a typical Accounts Payable Clerk role, responsibilities include:
- Calculating, posting business transactions, processing invoices, verifying financial data for use in maintaining records.
- Clarifying questionable invoice items, prices or receiving signatures.
- Obtaining proper information and data regarding invoice payments.
- Verifying and calculating all extensions and totals on invoices.
- Checking vendor files for any previous payments and assigning voucher numbers.
- Maintaining copies of vouchers, invoices or correspondence necessary for files.
- Preparing vouchers listing invoice number, date, vendor address, item description, amounts and coding per accounting policies and procedures.
- Reconciling bank statements.
These different responsibilities require a variety of skills. Some specific skills exhibited by Accounts Payable pros include:
- Great attention to detail
- Data analysis
- Basic accounting knowledge
- Ability to maintain good vendor relationships
- Fast and accurate data entry skills
Clearly, not any old schmo will do. Your next AP hire needs a variety of skills and qualifications to make real contributions to the department’s success. Using the list above will be very useful during the interview process, but is there anything else you should look for in a candidate?
The Skill You Need to Screen for When Interviewing AP
Although AP is largely a numbers-oriented job, it also requires solid communication skills. The best Accounts Payable professionals are skilled in both managing numbers and managing a number of human relationships, both inside and outside your organization. They not only deal with the primary approvers in different departments, but also other people who contribute critical information to the process, and manage important vendor relationships.
Finding the right person who possesses communication skills and accounting experience, and training them to work effectively within your organization can be a significant time drain on your already overworked AP team.
Should You Expand Your Accounts Payable Team?
Is your Accounts Payable team struggling to handle their workload? Is the CFO breathing down your neck to get AP running more smoothly?
If your organization is growing rapidly, and your current AP staff is finding it difficult to keep up with the amount of invoices they are managing, you might decide that it is time to hire another person. However, you will have to take into account the additional cost of a salary (plus benefits for a full-time employee) as well as the time current employees will take on boarding the new employee. Once you’ve examined all these factors, it may be worth it to take a second look at your existing resources to see if they could be improved.
Hire or Optimize: Make the Right Choice for Your Organization
If the prospect of selecting and implementing a new solution seems too daunting given the upfront time and cost investment, it may seem easier to just hire a new person – even part time – to ease the workload. However, before you invest time and money in the hiring and training process (which can take weeks or more), ask yourself whether you really need another body, or if there is a way to optimize your existing processes.
Take some time to examine the positive impact an intelligent invoice management system can have on your Accounts Payable department, all without changing existing processes. The key is to improve the communication in every aspect of the approvals in a way that allows AP to retain full control. There’s no upfront time or monetary investment required, so it won’t be long before you will see the true potential of your AP team. Instead, they will enjoy greater job satisfaction and productivity thanks to improved communication and faster approvals.