Lessons Learned From The Accounting Department Resulting From Crisis Scenarios
What did the COVID crisis teach you about your business’s ability to be agile amid uncertainty? For many owners, the lesson learned was that when businesses were closed or switched over to a work-from-home arrangement, changing the way their accounting department was managed was surprisingly difficult and didn’t transfer to the remote work environment very well.
This particular challenge could have been the result of several different factors. Perhaps your business was primarily using a company’s network or computer programs that required staff to be physically in the office in order to gain access. Or maybe your organization’s checks were stored at the office and could only be printed on-site. Then, to complicate matters, there may have been the added chore of seeking out the person (or people) in charge of signing business checks. This meant the additional effort needed to chase an individual (or individuals) down at a time when everybody was asked to shelter-in-place.
Many of the business owners we’ve talked to were not prepared for the difficulty of managing their accounting departments during the shutdown in 2020, which is why a lot of them have started considering ways to prevent this scenario from happening again.
Safeguard The Accounting Department From Crisis
One of the best options available to business owners who are looking to maintain continuity and security in their accounting departments – particularly at a time of uncertainty – is to utilize cloud-based accounting software. These programs allow your organization’s accounts payable function to be managed from anywhere an internet connection is available. Additionally, a solution that allows businesses to issue payments without having to print physical checks can be a game-changer.
While time travel technology that will ultimately enable business owners to go back and prepare in advance of the COVID crisis (or any other major moment that impacted your accounting department) is still in the development stage, we can share a solution available to you now that will help you prepare for future shake-ups. Keep reading to learn about one of my favorites, Bill.com, a powerful cloud-based accounting solution for small- to mid-sized businesses.
What Is Bill.com?
Bill.com is, in its purest form, a cloud-based accounts payable solution that allows businesses to code invoices from vendors while storing images of those invoices in an electronic format that becomes easily accessible to any user with the proper permissions. (Yes, I am saying that filing a mess of paper bills and saving them in boxes in the attic can be a thing of the past!) This great program effortlessly saves and organizes your bills by the vendor. Then, if you would like a back-up of these bills, for a small fee, the program puts your files together and sends an electronic copy your way.
Can Bill.com Help Prevent Fraud?
Another great feature about Bill.com is that it allows you to set up an approval process within the programming. Specific rules can be created based on the unique needs of your company. So, for example, if there is somebody in your organization who must approve every single invoice, a rule can be set up to ensure nobody is by-passing your controls. Or, say you want a designated person to approve most of your day-to-day invoices but, when they reach a certain dollar amount, you want a second person to sign off. This type of control can be easily established as well. Bill.com can also set up an approval process that requires all manufacturing supplies, for example, to be approved you your plant manager while all your organization’s overhead costs are approved by your office manager.
In other words, Bill.com will not put your business at risk for fraud. In fact, it can help deter fraud in your organization by ensuring that critical controls are not only in place … but are followed. Moreover, it eliminates the likelihood of lost or manipulated paperwork since it’s all managed within the application.
How Does Bill.com Work?
Once your bills are approved by all necessary parties, payments can be scheduled directly through the application. Bill.com will take a single Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment from your business’s bank account and will send out checks and direct ACH payments to individual vendors from their own account. This means you no longer have to chase down outstanding checks. Instead, Bill.com will handle that for you! Additionally because Bill.com keeps copies of all payments made and organizes them by vendor, you will always have a paper trail if questions arise regarding payment. Plus, no more stapling check stubs to bills and mailing out checks!
When you use Bill.com, you also won’t have to worry about having to enter information multiple times because the application directly links with many of the more common general ledger software, including QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Sage Intacct, and others.
Is Bill.com Safe?
You have probably heard about the increase in cyberattacks among small businesses – especially among accounting department personnel in the form of phishing attacks. These are certainly nothing to disregard as a single data breach could bring down an entire business. Fortunately, Bill.com puts security at the forefront by taking the necessary measures to protect your payments, your network, and your confidential data. You can learn more about what they are doing to create and maintain a secure environment for all users here. Specifically, security measures such as strong passwords, implementation of two-factor authentication, and other security features are included to provide maximum protection.
If you are interested in learning more about Bill.com and how it could be a welcomed addition to your accounting processes, reach out to me, or get in touch with another member of Rea’s client accounting advisory services team. We would be happy to discuss how cloud-based software such as Bill.com can help you avoid future business operation disturbances.
By Heather McNichols (New Philadelphia CPA Firm)