James Donaldson Oct 25, 2021 9:24:00 AM 9 min read

The Nightmare Accounts Receivable Process

Have you ever left, or even worse, started a job with terrible business processes?

Have you had to do extra work because of incompetence, be it innocent or malicious? What about if you already had the tools there to help streamline the process, would that make you angrier? If you have, leave your stories in the comments below, and get that anger out of you. (Currently no comments section on site)

Reddit user u/Dawn36 had that exact problem, they had to witness a terrible accounts receivables process in action and was even told, “That’s how we have always done it”.

Accounts Receivable Nightmare

Now Dawn36 didn’t go on to say how large the company is, but you can roughly say that one FTE can process 10,00 documents a year. We can only assume that it was a bit more than just a couple of past-due tickets sitting in their systems. This is a huge amount of money you’re due just being left in other people's bank accounts. This also really shows that there is no real business management process in place; if the job gets done, they don’t care how.

But then why spend money on a system that employees aren’t going to use? Now, this might be one function that doesn't get any use out of many that do, but this just happens to be quite important, especially if it means getting paid.

Who is at fault when the business process fails?

Schmitt whos fault is that-1
I’m sure there are many options but I'm going to focus on three:

  1. the boss
  2. the employee
  3. the developer/customer success team

Let’s start with the software developer, is the software bad? Does it not do what it says on the box? Most of the time this is realized way ahead of time, meetings, demos, and discussions are had before any big money is spent. Now the cost of training is usually included in the price but depending on who you're doing business with, it might cost extra. They generally can give you the best practices for business processes and keep you up to date, and this is where it is key for customer success to support a relationship.

A breakdown at this level often comes from inferior goods or services, and/or bad customer service. If the product is just bad, well no one is going to use it. However, if you have an excellent product but bad customer service, you may see users develop unhealthy habits with the software, slowly losing interest with the process and taking “shortcuts”. These shortcuts won’t be noticeable at first, but in the future, it’s going to make someone's job even harder. The customer success teams need to be helpful and up to date, but ultimately, they aren’t responsible for your business process.

Now, I’m not saying all employees like to find the fastest route to the finish line, but if you're sick of your job, doing the same mundane tasks every day, you haven’t been promoted, you're looking for a new job, depressed, don’t care, your boss is annoying... There could be so many reasons why an employee wouldn’t care about the business process or any other supporting processes. Whatever works for them and what they can get away with.

The boss, the manager, the department head, the owner of the process is ultimately responsible for the business activity. Now, this is affected by the organization’s size, if it is a small operation and one person is wearing many hats, it’s understandable that some processes may get overlooked.

There should be a procedure put in place to review and update business workflows and processes; be it monthly, quarterly, or yearly. We all know it’s a team effort in the workplace and that a manager will rely on his colleagues to let him know if anything is needed, but a good manager will be proactive, set some time to look over, review and even make changes if needed.

This could mean reaching out to the software creators for help. Sitting down with the employees and asking them to go through what they may do in a week.

We could give you a list of the best practices, but why would I waste my time (and yours) when people have already done that? Check out 10 SIMPLE STEPS TO BUILDING A BUSINESS PROCESS BLUEPRINT or Business Process - Definition, Lifecycle Steps, and Importance (kissflow.com).

If you need help with your P2P, cash flow, accounts payable or procurement process then we are your people.

It's how we have always done it.

You will find this kind of attitude across all parts of a business, but it is rather prevalent in finance departments. Technology is moving so fast that it's easier to sit and wait for the next best thing, especially if what is being done is working.

The “If it isn't broken don't fix it” mentality stunts growth, but it's understandable when dealing with money, especially if it's company money. No one wants to be wrong when it comes to money, and no one wants to lose it. A failed project, wasteful spending, etc., it all permeates down and becomes a part of the culture. it comes back to who is at fault and that's the captain of the ship.

Check out this article by rad-gate who has written a blog on how to overcome "it's how we have always done it".

What’s the best way?

I would recommend walking around and having a chat. Ask people to show you their routine, find out how they go about a problem and if you can show them a better way if there is one, they may not be doing what they are supposed to... Hell, it might even be a better way.


James Donaldson

I hate bio's but I was told to write one, I kinda actually enjoy my job, creating content for social media purposes and reviewing analytics to increase efficiency to build social platforms. What would I rather be doing? Inside an art studio creating contemporary art that take minutes to make but go for millions (see banana taped to wall for example).
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