7 Tips to Improve Your Accounting Team Efficiency
By Glenn Hofmann
Accounting teams everywhere can attest that back-office functions have been under pressure for years to “do more with less.” The COVID pandemic and subsequent inflation accelerated this pressure dramatically, and organizations were forced to reduce staff while maintaining the same level of service.
At Kraft Enterprise Systems (KES), we have worked closely with clients to ensure NetSuite's full capabilities are being utilized to automate tasks and improve efficiencies. Over time, we've consistently seen several common areas where leveraging tools brought considerable improvements in efficiencies. With this in mind, here are our top seven efficiency improvement areas for your accounting team — three for A/R and four for A/P.
Over and over, we see organizations that handle collections by running an A/R aging detail, exporting it to Excel, and then conducting client follow-ups. This process can be a considerable time commitment, depending on the invoice volume, especially now that many organizations are stretching payments. We believe dunning is an area that you should fully automate. The KES A/R Toolkit includes an easy-to-configure and fully automated dunning module, which allows you to have automated collections management up and running in less than a day. Best of all, you can also manage manual follow-ups within the same module to allow for both automated and manual intervention. Automating your collections process is a fast way to free up time for your A/R team.
Many NetSuite customers do not realize they can schedule reports or searches within NetSuite. Do you want to send your weekly sales report to your executive team every Friday afternoon? No problem. Do you want to distribute past due invoices to sales reps or account managers every Monday morning for follow-up? No problem. Taking advantage of NetSuite’s ability to schedule reports means your A/R team does not have to spend time exporting and emailing reports and can instead focus on more high-value activity.
Invoice Email Automation
We often see organizations sending and resending invoices manually, which requires time from staff and can be an ongoing interruption throughout the day. This can be especially challenging for clients who have multiple invoice recipients or recipients who often request invoices to be resent. Standard NetSuite does not have a great way to support this situation, so clients typically type email addresses manually or download multiple invoices and resend. The KES A/R Toolkit can bring significant efficiencies to these processes. With the toolkit, you can mark multiple contacts on a customer record to receive the invoice and easily select multiple invoices to send in a single email with just a few clicks. Couple this feature with workflows, and your A/R team can increase efficiency when sending invoice emails. If you also want to provide customers with self-service capabilities to view, print, or pay their invoices online, you should check out the KES Customer Portal as well.
“The A/R Toolkit dunning process schedule, with the ability to carve out high-value targets, has helped us to significantly maximize our cash collections. We had record highs for cash collections this month, aided by the dunning, the conversations created, and the ability to have real time notes.”
Intercompany Vendor Bills
Many organizations are moving to a more centralized payments model, where one subsidiary pays vendor bills on behalf of other subsidiaries. This process typically requires intercompany journal entries, often done manually. With the KES A/P Toolkit, we have fully automated the intercompany process. With the toolkit, you enter the vendor bill in the subsidiary to be paid. You can break out the bill by expense line to allocate to other subsidiaries. The toolkit then automatically creates the intercompany journal entries for you. For centralized payments organizations, this can free up significant time.
File Drag & Drop
Did you know NetSuite has several free add-ons you can deploy to your account? One of our favorite features is called “File Drag and Drop.” This add-on creates a file “drop area” on the top of your vendor bill (and any other records), so you can add attachments from Outlook or your computer directly to your vendor bill. This method is faster and easier than using the “file” button and manually uploading files to attach. Best of all, it's free with NetSuite!
AP Bill Capture & Direct Payments
Many organizations are looking to further automate their AP function by capturing information from their vendor invoices and creating vendor bills automatically. Additionally, organizations are looking to streamline their vendor bill payment process to move beyond internal check printing or even NACHA files that get manually uploaded to their bank. In the past, this functionality was only available in NetSuite through 3rd party tools/integrations. But in 2022, NetSuite released their AP Automation module that now brings this functionality directly inside of NetSuite. On the bill capture side, NetSuite will read the vendor bill PDF to automatically create the start of a vendor bill using information from the PDF. You can then finish any specific coding (such as accounts or segments) and save the bill, thus saving manually keying time. On the bill payment side, you can now manage how you want to pay your vendor bills directly from inside of NetSuite (ACH, Electronic Checks, etc.) and have these directly processed without having to manually print/mail or upload to your bank. NetSuite's AP Automation is a great way to save time and increase payment controls.
We consistently hear from A/P teams that they find managing bill approvals challenging. Most users would rather approve bills via email than log into NetSuite just to approve a bill. They also want visibility into the previous approver (especially if the final approver is an executive). In addition, A/P staff find it difficult in NetSuite to track where approvals are in the approval queue and how to identify the appropriate person for follow up. The external approval feature of the KES A/P Toolkit addresses all of these areas. In the toolkit, you can set up simple or complex approval flows to send emails (with scanned bills automatically attached and coding, if needed) to recipients to approve. You can also see the approval history in the email, allowing the user to view all previous approvers. You can then select “Approve” or “Reject” buttons directly inside the email. Based on the workflow rules you establish, the toolkit will automatically approve the bill or email the next approver, if appropriate. Plus, you can delegate alternate approvers when traditional approvers are out of the office, and the toolkit will show who approved the bill. A dashboard search provides insight into all unapproved bills and their status in the approval queue. Many organizations have found this feature to save time, alleviate approver frustration, and accelerate month-end close.
"The A/P Toolkit has been great for our company. It has helped us streamline our processes tremendously. Bill approvals are so much easier than before. The header information auto copying to the lines, intercompany allocations, and allocation of expenses have saved us hours! I can’t thank KES enough for recommending this SuiteApp."
Mental Health Cooperative
Increasing efficiencies in some or all of these six areas could save your accounting team time to focus on higher-value projects. However, determining which NetSuite features would be best for your organization can be challenging because it's such a robust ERP solution. We're here to help you determine which NetSuite add-ons or KES SuiteApps could benefit your unique organization and processes. Contact us if you'd like to discuss options.