How A/P can keep operations running smoothly during coronavirus pandemic


    An international pandemic has turned the world upside down, and your Accounts Payable department is largely feeling the impact.

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared not only a pandemic but a U.S. national emergency. It’s forced people – and businesses – to re-evaluate how they operate on a daily basis.

    Your company’s had to act quickly but rationally – rethinking policies, adjusting work processes and grappling with uncertainty. And to keep your company running, A/P’s role has become more important than ever. There are still invoices to process, bills to pay, expenses to reimburse and queries to answer.

    But how is your A/P department supposed to carry out its “normal” operations when things are anything but normal? Check out four critical areas A/P should focus on to keep operations running as smoothly as possible:

    1. Staff conditions

    To continually meet the needs of both internal and external customers, you first need to ensure your A/P staff is well equipped to do so. If your company’s like most, it’s advised employees who can work from home to do just that.

    Many A/P departments use telecommuting as a perk for their staff, so you may already have clear remote work requirements outlined. If your team’s less familiar with working from home, make sure your A/P lead communicates how it works and what’s expected.

    For example, do staffers have all the necessary access, connectivity (Internet) and equipment (scanner, printer) they need? Must they stick to normal business hours? Should they use specific digital tools/platforms to communicate with your team? What technologies are they permitted to use? Which brings us to …

    2. Fraud concerns

    Working at home spurs more fraud threats. As mentioned recently, remote work is one of the top cybersecurity threats in 2020, since homes and public places aren’t as secure as corporate networks.

    Scammers know that lots of people are working from home right now and are already devising scams to obtain private data and money. In fact, they’re using the coronavirus specifically as an email hook to get people to click (e.g., links promising updates stats). So, remind your A/P staff to stay especially alert on the tech front.

    3. Vendor management

    Looking at business more broadly, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on companies’ productivity, revenue and supply chain. Most are trying to maintain operations while protecting employees and customers.

    That’s why it’s critical to make sure A/P knows how your vendors are faring, if their normal ops are changing and how Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) might be affected or interrupted. Also, make sure you’ve discussed your current strategy for paying vendors, since you may want A/P to focus more on payment timing to be strategic with cash flow.

    4. Employee communications

    Along with staffers and vendors, there are other employees in Finance and Purchasing who A/P may have to make a little extra effort to stay in the loop with right now. You could suggest scheduling routine conference calls to get status updates and discuss potential problems.

    And P2P aside, you’ll also want to keep communication open on the T&E front. You know the pandemic is having major effects on business travel – and A/P should be involved in working through it.

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