Master Budget with AP Automation: This Home Builder Shows You How

Tuesday, Jan 18th 2022

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Homes by Sorensen have been building high-performance residences for over a decade. During that time, owners Heather and Axel Sorensen have helped customers embrace the benefits of solar power and other energy-efficient building practices.

While the company found great success finding buyers who share their passion for Net Zero homes, co-owner Heather Sorensen realized that reliance on manual accounts payable processes created several unnecessary hurdles.

We had a very manual budgeting process and I needed something automatic.Heather Sorensen, Co-Owner, Homes by Sorensen 

Sorensen identified three key areas that she wanted to address. First, she wanted a program that would help her to create a budgeting process. The solution needed the ability to create a purchase order, add invoices as they came in, and get monthly reporting on a project-by-project basis.

“You would be shocked by how few systems have that,” Sorensen said. “Lots of them have it on a fiscal year basis… but not for a project-by-project basis. Sometimes you start a project a month into the fiscal year that carries on into the next fiscal year.”

Moving to AP automation provided the budgetary controls that Sorensen needed. Through Beanworks, the company gained the ability to track committed spend. They were also able to manage spending by department, project, or vendor.

“With AP automation, before I even hit approve I can see if I’m over and under before even paying the trade. So, it’s really just making us proactive rather than reactive when it comes to budgeting.”

In addition, Sorensen stated that she wanted to move to paperless invoicing. With Beanworks global search and filter tool, the company could quickly find any document by entering vendor name, invoice number, cost, or any other detail, with all records stored for up to seven years.

Heather“I loved that I could store my invoices online and have easy access to them for years and years to come,” she said.

In addition to the time saved by avoiding manual processes, Sorensen found that the company could now rapidly detect errors in the process and run detailed reports providing real-time insight into their finances. Switching to an automated process helped remove the possibility of data entry errors while providing oversight if other errors occur. For example, the software automatically detects any duplicates and allows for them to be corrected within the system.

“We were able to open our eyes to so much more reporting and inaccurate information,” Sorensen said.

Finally, she looked for a program that would streamline the approvals process. Sorensen needed a solution that provided access to the company’s project manager so that he could approve payments that required on-site information.

“I’m not always on-site so I don’t know things like, ‘has that roof been completed?” Sorensen said. “I can look at the invoice and go ‘that’s the agreed-upon price, that aligns to our budget, but has it actually been done?’ Or is there something outstanding that we don’t want to pay until they are finished?”

Beanworks allowed Sorensen to create approval channels based on the requirements of the company. Through the platform, she was able to create customized routing for invoices that provided the project manager access to items that required more scrutiny.

The cloud-based software also allowed for the growth of the company’s finance team. Sorensen states that her goal had long been to step away from accounting and into more of a managerial position. To that end, they added a virtual controller to the team. Today, with the help of Beanworks, they have filled the position with a work-from-home employee. Their bookkeeper has also begun working remotely, while still retaining full access to the necessary financial documents and data through the cloud.

“Automation will forever be a fabulous tool for saving time and increasing efficiency,” Sorensen said. “It allows our team to serve a broader range of people, and they have the flexibility to work from anywhere.”

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