Prioritize AR and AP to support business viability

AR and AP strategies that help gain insights and improve processes

With sales and other functions curtailed, payments are crucial to business viability, now may be the time to enhance your accounts receivable and payable by implementing the following strategies.

Refine accounts receivable

Move to electronic receivables. Checks require people to be physically present to handle them. If you’ve been meaning to move to electronic payments for efficiency reasons, this is a good reason to do it now. Talk to customers about paying you by ACH, RTP, or online, and redesign invoices to show your preferred payment methods. Talk to your bank about setting up electronic receivables services.

Post unapplied payments. You want customers to buy from you again, and soon. Open their receivable accounts by researching and posting unapplied payments.

Update your receivables accounts. Remove inactive accounts and duplicates. A clean list may help make processing payments faster and easier and help avoid exceptions.

Review past-due accounts. Connecting with your customers is important. If they can’t pay the full amount, perhaps offer discounts or set up payment plans. You may want to add or assign resources to help bring in needed cash.

Hone accounts payable

Make more payments electronically. If you’re having trouble printing checks, your customers are having trouble receiving them. Offer electronic payment options such as ACH, RTP, and commercial card.

Reach out to suppliers. If you have invoices that are difficult to process, tell your suppliers how they may help make your invoice processing easier. It may be as simple as including the P.O. number or invoice number on their bills.

Clean up master vendor files. Vendor contact names, phone numbers, addresses, and terms keep changing. To help avoid duplicate payments and business email compromise (BEC) fraud, validate the information on file, remove duplicates, and archive inactive vendors.

Handle uncashed checks. No one wants checks to go into escheatment. If you have checks uncashed past their stale dates, try to contact payees to learn why they haven’t been cashed. Moving away from check payments to electronic payments can lessen the likelihood of creating unclaimed property.

Prepare for exigencies to come

After Superstorm Sandy, the Great Recession, COVID-19, and more, who knows what’s coming next. Increase your preparedness with these BCP measures.

Write or update standard operating procedures (SOPS). When you have turnover or absenteeism, structured process management will enable business as usual.

Cross-train employees. Build bench strength so jobs will get done when the usual team members are unavailable.

Conduct fraud training. Businesses are more vulnerable to fraud in times of turmoil. Increase fraud awareness – especially awareness of business email compromise fraud – through video conferencing or meetings.

As you implement these best practices, you may gain insights into where and how you might improve your processes. Insights you can put into action when normalcy returns.