Accounts Payable Operations – Do You Have the Right Resources?

By NE Docs | January 9, 2019

If you had it to do over again, would you still hire the people you have working in Accounts Payable?  If not, why did you hire them in the first place?  The answer may not lie in the selection process but perhaps in the job posting. 

Ask yourself this. Did your job posting accurately represent the requirements you were looking for?

Here is an example of a typical job description with qualifications:

Accounts Payable Specialist – Looking for a reliable AP professional who can assist us in our Accounts Payable functions which include addressing exception invoices, addressing calls and email from Vendors and timely payment of invoices.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Finance or related discipline
  • 2+ years of experience in Accounts Payable
  • Ability to use Microsoft Excel and Word
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong organizational ability
  • Effective corporate communications skills
  • Ability to consistently meet deadlines

Does this posting properly represent the type of employee you are looking for?  Or match the amount budgeted to pay for this resource?

Consider the following:

College courses do not generally cover the specifics of Accounts Payable.  A person who has received strong grades in basic accounting courses could be an excellent fit for an AP position.  Consider their grades in English or grammar courses as well.

Yes, experience in AP is a plus but if they were not using the same systems, it might be better to hire someone who has strong grades, computer experience, the ability to learn quickly, has excellent attention to details, can communicate effectively by email, over the phone and face to face, and can consistently meet deadlines.

I agree with the requirement for Microsoft Excel and Word skills but only if the AP Operations use them.  If they do, does your organization use advanced tools such as functions, tables and/or graphs?  Is so, state the specifics in the qualifications. 

Additionally, look to hire someone who can adjust to change with little or no notice.  Consider these qualifications:

  • Self-motivated – can determine what needs to be done
  • Has the ability to multi-task
  • Able to prioritize work to meet customer needs and/or deadlines
  • Not afraid to present suggestions to improve efficiencies

Before interviewing potential candidates, prepare questions that relate to the tasks the person may be responsible for:

  • Do you feel comfortable working and talking to strangers regardless of their position? 
  • If you found that a fellow employee made a mistake, how would you let them know?
  • How do you think you would react if an angry person called you about an issue?

These questions are not intended to stump the person but to share with the person the types of challenges they may face.  Were you comfortable with their way they reacted? Did their responses relate to the questions? 

Take the time to decide what you are looking for, to document the requirements, to post an accurate job description with the related qualifications then get ready to ask the right questions.  Hire a person who will stay with you long term.  By taking the time needed to hire the right person, you might find a true diamond in the rough.  Personally, some of my best hires did not have degrees or years in AP but they had a wealth of real-life experience and the willingness to learn.

Consider using these same suggestions when looking to implement a workflow system.  There are a lot of providers out there trying to sell systems with all kinds of bells and whistles that you may not want or need but could end up paying for.  Determine your requirements of such a system and the type of organization you would like to work with. Interview the potential providers.  Look beyond the system itself.  Can you see yourself working with the provider’s team?  Are they able to meet deadlines?  Will they make every effort to learn your business and processes in order to provide the system that is right for you?  Selecting the right system and provider should make for a relationship that will bring you benefits throughout the contract period and beyond.

Want to learn more? Contact New England Document systems. They have the experience, and the resources to assist you; from answering your questions about available solutions to helping you to implement the right tool. Contact us to discuss just how much improvement you want to see in your Accounts Payable Operation.

This article is part of New England Document systems’ partnership with industry experts. This contribution was written by Anne Wheeler of CS Process Flows, LLC. Anne is a Consultant and Project Manager specializing in Accounts Payable processes and systems. 

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