The accounts payable process can be streamlined through the use of many best practices which are listed in this chapter; however, a common recurring problem is those payments that go around the whole preplanned payable process. They’re the inevitable payments which can be sudden and unplanned and that must be handled immediately. Examples are payments for pizza deliveries, flowers for bereaved employees, or cash-on-delivery payments. In all of these cases, the accounting staff must drop what it is performing, create a manual check, obtain it signed, and enter the data on the check to the computer system. To create matters worse, as a result of rush basis of the payment, it is common for the accounting person to forget to really make the entry to the computer system, which throws off the bank reconciliation work by the end of the month, which creates still more work to track down and fix the problem. Simply speaking, issuing manual checks significantly worsens the efficiency of the accounts payable staff. One can use two methods to reduce the number of manual checks. The first method is always to take off the inflow of check requests, while the second reason is (paradoxically) to automate the cutting of manual checks. The very first approach is a hard one, since it takes tallying the manual checks which were cut every month and following up with the check requesters to see if there might be a far more orderly manner of making requests later on, thereby allowing more checks to be issued through the conventional accounts payable process. Unfortunately, this practice requires so enough time communicating with the check requesters that the lost time will overtake the resulting time savings by the accounting staff from writing fewer manual checks. The second, and better, approach, is always to preset a printer with check stock, to ensure that anyone can request a check whenever you want, and an accounting person can immediately take a seat at some type of computer terminal, enter the check information, and have it print out at once. This process has the initial benefit of avoiding any trouble with not reentering information into the computer system, since it is being entered there in the initial place (which avoids any future issues with the financial institution reconciliation). It tends to take slightly longer to make a register this manner, but the overall time savings are greater.
If one adopts this method, it is very important to take into account the cost of the printer. Since it is generally a higher priced tractor-feed model, this process may not be cost-effective unless there are a substantial number of manual checks being created. A third alternative is to really make the process of fabricating a manual check so hard that requesters will avoid this approach. As an example, the request may require the signature of a senior manager (who is likely to be less than pleased to be interrupted for the signature) or multiple approving signatures. Additionally, the accounting department could charge an exorbitant amount with this service to the requesting department on the corporate financial statements. Further, a report itemizing all manual check requests could be delivered to senior management each month, highlighting who is bothering the accounting staff with your items. Any combination of these actions should reduce the utilization of manual checks.