Managing Accounts Payable for a Distributed Workforce

Wednesday, Apr 11th 2018

Remote working is not limited to startups anymore. Companies of all sizes are now seeing the benefits of flexible employee working arrangements. As of 2016, 43% of Americans surveyed say they spent at least some time working remotely last year, according to a recent Gallup survey.

Why are companies going remote? There's actually a long list of benefits that become available to companies that adopt flexible work policies. Looking at recruitment, companies that have a distributed workforce aren't limited by geography when hiring: they can hire the best candidates for the job, regardless of where those candidates call home, widening the recruitment pool significantly. Reducing overhead operational costs is another obvious benefit. Fewer employees on-site means less square feet of physical office space needed, reducing rent costs along with all the other costs typically associated with keeping a roof over employee heads and fresh coffee in the pot.

This trend is also more popular in some sectors over others. In the finance, insurance and real estate industries, there has been a marked increase in time spent working remotely, with 47% of workers saying they spent some time working remotely last year. The results were even higher for workers in transportation (61%) and technology (57%). From a practical standpoint, having a distributed workforce means that, even as a company’s office footprint decreases, their administration requirements will grow more complex. If the workforce is spread out across cities or even continents, how will everyone work together efficiently?

For a multi-step administrative process like accounts payable, this can be a daunting task. Invoices come in from vendors and need to be entered into the company’s accounting system, then coded and routed to approvers within the company to review and sign off. Another round of processing and approvals is also usually required to make the payments to the vendors. If your accounting team and your approvers are primarily remote, or even working from separate regional offices, the signing process can be extremely time-consuming.

In a recent interview with Sean Kerklaan, CEO of Fatigue Science, we learned exactly how long that process can take. With their accountants working out of Vancouver and their CEO working remotely in Ottawa, accounts payable was a slow, expensive process for Fatigue Science. Each unsigned check required couriering to get two signatures, which could easily add a week or two onto the payment time. Beanworks solved this issue, along with several other inefficiencies, as Kerklaan notes: “Beanworks is brilliantly simple. It includes an excellent hierarchy structure for a simple approval or rejection process, allows for digital approvals, and saves thousands of dollars on printed paper.”

As a cloud-based accounts payable automation solution, Beanworks connects teams, departments, and companies, so invoices can be processed from anywhere in the world. Invoices remain centralized and always accessible, using customized credentials, so the right people have the right access. Learn more about how Beanworks can connect your remote team now.