Accounts Payable Best Practices / Edition 1

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The fundamental structure of the accounts payable function reflects a company’s financial integrity, yet so many payable operations in companies aren’t running at peak efficiency. Overlooking only a few weak accounts payable operations can adversely affect a company’s bottom line in a number of ways, from incurring costs to resolve discrepancies and fix errors to receiving fines for failing to comply with escheat or sales and tax rules.

Accounts Payable Best Practices provides businesses and other organizations with a strong sense of where they stand against industry leaders and shows them how to take their services and organizational processes to state-of-the-art levels. Documented strategies and tactics employed by highly admired companies are presented–both successful and unsuccessful–to illustrate the real-world functionality of each process and approach.

Every chapter features a brief explanation of the process or topic being addressed to accompany the discussion of best practices. However, for a variety of reasons, some firms aren’t in a position to employ best practices. To bridge the gap between the latest theory and practice, Accounts Payable Best Practices identifies "Almost Best Practices." These special sections consider that not all practices will work at every company, and they offer successful alternatives to best practices. Also included are discussions on practices that absolutely should not be used, but may be practiced at other companies.

To address the renewed interest in internal audit and controls, such as the Sarbanes-Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the mundane operational aspects of accounts payable are reviewed in a way that focuses attention on issues that are sometimes ignored, such as the master vendor file. Other coverage in Accounts Payable Best Practices includes:

  • Innovative T&E techniques used at successful companies
  • P-cards–an easy-to-understand innovation that is being adopted by companies everywhere
  • 1099 reporting, sales and use tax handling and reporting, and unclaimed property
  • Cash management initiatives that are increasingly falling on the shoulders of the accounts payable departments
  • Case studies demonstrating how best practice helped real-world companies achieve outstanding results

Accounts Payable Best Practices is an essential resource for accounts payable managers, controllers, and CFOs at every size company.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471636953
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/26/2004
  • Series: Wiley Best Practices Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 885,458
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary S. Schaeffer is the Editorial Director and Publisher of Accounts Payable Now & Tomorrow, a newsletter devoted to payment issues. She also pens, e-News from the AP Front, a complimentary e-zine for the payment community. She's the author of ten books and numerous magazine, newsletter and newspaper articles. Her books have been used in several certification programs. She is a member of the New York Financial Writers Association. She is currently working on two additional books for John Wiley & Sons.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Invoices.

Invoice Handling: Approvals.

Forwarding Invoices.

Verifying Invoice Data.

Invoice-Coding Standards.

Short-Paying Invoices.

Paying Small-Dollar Invoices.

Handling Unidentified Invoices.

Handling Invoices without Invoice Numbers.

Case Study: How One Pro Took Accounts Payable Out of the Picture when Resolving Customer Discrepancies.

Chapter 2: Checks.

Check Printing.

Check Signing.

Check Stock Storage.

Distribution of Checks.

Check Fraud.

Rush or Emergency Checks.

Case Study: Information Sheet: Segregation of Duties.

Chapter 3: Operational.

Duplicate Payment Avoidance.

Paying When the Original Invoice Is Missing.

Limiting Calls to Accounts Payable.

Petty Cash.

Supplier Statements.

Case Study: Expert Demonstrates How to Put the Web to Work for Accounts Payable.

Chapter 4: Master Vendor File.

Master Vendor File Setup.

Using Naming Conventions.

Making Changes to the Master Vendor File.

Master Vendor File Cleanup.

Case Study: Experienced Accounts Payable Pro Shares Master Vendor File Control Secrets.

Chapter 5: P-Cards.

Design of the P-Card Program.

Establishing Procedures.

Setting Controls.

Increasing Usage.

1099s and P-Cards.



Case Study: P-Cards Improve Accounts Payable Process at PETsMART, Rock-Tenn, and Rouse.

Chapter 6: Travel and Entertainment.

Formal Policy.

Cash Advances.

T&E Report Form.

Verifying Data.

Handling Receipts.


Reimbursing Employees.

Unused Tickets.

Case Study: Making the Most of Direct Deposit.

Case Study: TransUnion’s Successful Low-Tech, Low-Budget T&E Solution.

Case Study: Follow IBM’s Lead: 21 Steps to an Award-Winning T&E Process.

Case Study: How Zurich America Developed Its Own Electronic T&E Report.

Chapter 7: Regulatory Issues.


Sales and Use Tax.

Unclaimed Property.

Case Study: How to Avoid Sales and Use Tax Audit Disasters.

Case Study: A Typical Company’s Unclaimed Property Experience.

Chapter 8: Cash Management.

Taking Early Payment Discounts.

Payment Status Information for Vendors.

Bank Accounts and Fraud.

Other Cash Management–Related Initiatives.

Case Study: General Electric’s Approach to Electronic Invoicing and Payment Processing.

Chapter 9: Technology.

Imaging and Workflow.

The Internet.


Case Study: PPL Electric Offers Lessons on Setting Up an Accounts Payable Imaging Solution.

Case Study: An Accounts Payable Web Site.

Case Study: How the Accounts Payable Manager at Merck Overhauled Department Procedures and Technology.

Chapter 10: Communications/Customer Relations.

Payment Status Information for Vendors.

Communicating Relevant Information to Vendors.

Communicating with Internal Customers.

Improving the Procure-to-Pay Cycle.

Case Study: Interactive Voice Response Frees Accounts Payable from Annoying “Where’s My Money” Calls.

Case Study: How Automated Accounts Payable and Purchasing Systems Mesh at BNSF.


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