The Problems with Paper in Community Management Associations
The average community association processes 15 - 25 invoices per month, and a medium-to-large size association management company processes somewhere between 1,500 – 10,000 invoices per month.
Why do these numbers matter? If you’re involved in the AP process at all, you know all the manual processes that go along with paper invoices and checks.
Typical daily responsibilities for an Accounts Payable Specialist within the industry include reviewing, verifying, matching, inputting every invoice into the accounting system, and then tracking down approvers to gain approval for payment. Once invoices have been approved, they must be released for payment, and then the Specialist has to print checks that have to be signed and then mailed out.
As you can imagine, the more invoices that go through this process, the more time-consuming it is.
There are also the tedious tasks of sorting, weighing, posting outgoing mail, and processing deliveries to the correct department or employee. In a decentralized environment, like association management, this can be a full-time job. With AP and payment automation, AP specialists can eliminate tasks like opening the mail, manual data entry, and filing stacks of paper.
As you know, paper-based processes are expensive because of the time-intensive manual tasks that are inherent to invoices and paper checks. There’s also the issue of storage, as many associations pay a monthly fee to store sensitive information in a garage or warehouse. Over time, associations spend a significant amount of money just so boxes of paper can collect dust.
To save time and money, many associations attempt to go paperless by implementing a document management system. With document management, associations use software to store, manage, and track electronic documents captured via a document scanner. Document management takes paper out of the equation, but not the time-intensive tasks associated with it. Automation, on the other hand, eliminates paper and the time-consuming processes that come with it.
When it comes to an association management company’s invoice and payment approval process, many board members want to be included in the approval process for invoices, as they are often the final signors, which can slow down the process even more. With AP and payment automation, board members no longer wait for a board meeting for approval. They simply log on securely to a cloud-based software, review the invoices awaiting their approval, and authorize them for payment.
In addition to streamlining the accounts payable workflow, automation centralizes and processes paper and electronic invoices in a single location. Automation solutions will even perform the data extraction for you, such as association, vendor, invoice number, amount, and relevant dates. This leaves managers with the simple task of reviewing the invoice image online, assigning expense coding, and approving it for payment. According to a recent study done by PayStream Advisors, most businesses are still making 46% of payments via paper check. Where does your association stack up?