How to Manage Vendors in Bill.com: Efficiently Handling Payables

published on 23 January 2024

Managing vendors and accounts payable can be an overwhelming task for many businesses.

By leveraging a solution like Bill.com, you can streamline the entire process - from collecting vendor information and organizing invoices to approving payments and monitoring spending.

In this post, we'll walk through best practices for onboarding new vendors in Bill.com, efficiently processing invoices, collaborating with team members on approvals, scheduling payments, and tracking expenditure activity through interactive reports. You'll learn actionable tips to control costs, ensure compliance, and establish efficient workflows for accounts payable with Bill.com.

Introduction to Managing Vendors in Bill.com

Bill.com is a cloud-based software platform that helps small and mid-sized businesses modernize their accounts payable workflows. By centralizing approvals, payments, and tracking into one system, Bill.com makes it easy for finance teams to manage vendors efficiently.

What is Bill.com and Who is it For?

Bill.com is designed for businesses that want to streamline their accounts payable process. Key benefits include:

  • Centralized dashboard to easily manage vendor invoices and payments
  • Automated workflows for approving and processing invoices
  • Ability to pay vendors electronically via ACH or check
  • Spending analytics and reporting to track expenses
  • Integration with popular accounting software

Ideal for small to mid-sized companies with multiple invoices and vendor payments to manage each month. Finance and accounting teams can save significant time by reducing manual data entry and paperwork.

Core Capabilities for Managing Vendors

With Bill.com, essential vendor management tasks are streamlined:

Set up vendors quickly: Easily input vendor details including payment info. Vendors receive automated payment notifications.

Approve invoices with rules: Configure approval workflows and set rules for routing invoices based on amount, vendor, GL code etc.

Pay vendors electronically: Schedule one-time or recurring electronic payments to vendor bank accounts. Signature and check payment options also available.

Track spending: Gain visibility into expense trends with dashboard charts and reporting. Export data to accounting software.

With robust vendor, invoice, and payment management features, Bill.com alleviates key pain points for finance teams. The centralized solution saves time, reduces errors, and improves organization around paying vendors.

How do you control accounts payable effectively?

Controlling accounts payable effectively is critical for managing cash flow and minimizing costs. Here are some best practices:

Automate the AP process

Implementing automation software like Bill.com can help streamline approval workflows, consolidate vendor payments, and provide visibility into AP. This eliminates manual tasks and reduces human error.

Prioritize invoices

Categorize invoices by due date and amount owed so you know which to pay first. This ensures you avoid late fees and maintain good relationships with critical vendors.

Optimize workflows

Map out approval chains to cut down on bottlenecks. Set up rules for routing invoices to correct staff. This smooths operations and prevents payments from falling through cracks.

Use KPIs

Track metrics like days payable outstanding (DPO), payment error rate, and cost per invoice processed. Establish targets to gauge AP efficiency over time.

Detect fraud

Watch for duplicate invoices and monitor changes to vendor payment info. Leverage anomaly detection in your software to catch suspicious activity.

Avoid duplicate payments

Consolidate vendor records and match new invoices to open ones. Use 3-way invoice matching to only pay for valid purchase orders.

Control access

Restrict invoice and payment access to critical staff. Set up permissions and approval tiers to prevent unauthorized changes or payments.

How do you ensure efficient accounts payable?

Efficient accounts payable processes are critical for businesses to manage cash flow, reduce costs, and maintain positive vendor relationships. Here are some best practices to ensure efficiency:

Simplify the accounts payable workflow

Streamline invoice receipt, data entry, approvals, discrepancies resolution, and payment processes. Automate routing and approvals with digital workflows.

Limit access and establish controls

Restrict invoice and payment access to relevant staff. Enforce approvals, separation of duties, and system controls to prevent errors and fraud.

Prioritize invoices

Categorize invoices by due date, discount eligibility, vendor, department, etc. to focus on high-priority items first.

Make good use of technology

Use AP automation software for data capture, approvals, reporting, and integration with accounting systems. Go paperless to eliminate printing, mailing, and filing costs.

Eliminate AP fraud

Watch for duplicate payments, fake vendors, doctored invoices, etc. Have multiple people review invoices over certain thresholds.

Renegotiate payment terms

Ask vendors for extended payment terms to improve cash flow. Take discounts for early payment only with adequate approval and cash availability.

What is a good strategy in managing accounts payable?

An effective accounts payable (AP) strategy focuses on five key goals:

  1. Ensure timely payments: Pay vendors by their due dates to avoid late fees and maintain positive vendor relationships. Set up payment terms in your AP system and automate reminders for upcoming due dates.

  2. Accurate financial reporting: Ensure that vendor invoice data is captured and validated and that invoices have been approved for payment before processing. This provides transparency into cash flow and liabilities.

  3. Take advantage of early payment discounts: Negotiate discount terms with vendors for early payments. Even a 2% discount for paying 10 days early can yield significant savings.

  4. Minimize process costs: Automate repetitive AP tasks to reduce manual work and free up employees to focus on value-added activities. For example, use OCR technology to automatically capture invoice data.

  5. Maintain proper oversight: Put approval workflows in place for invoices over certain amounts. Segregate duties across purchasing, receiving, and payment functions. Conduct periodic audits to identify process gaps.

An efficient AP process reduces costs, strengthens vendor relationships, improves visibility into cash flow, and enables better financial decisions. By focusing on these five goals, businesses can transform AP from a cost center into a strategic function.

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How do you manage and organize accounts payable?

Managing accounts payable efficiently is critical for any business. Here are some key tips for streamlining invoice management and organization in Bill.com:

Track All Invoices

  • Require that all invoices come to your accounts payable department before payment. This ensures proper oversight and control.

Pay From Original Invoices

  • Always pay directly from the vendor's original invoice when possible. Avoid making payments from vendor statements, which can lead to errors.

Eliminate Manual Data Entry

  • Reduce manual data entry by having vendors email invoices directly to Bill.com. Bill.com can extract key details through optical character recognition.

Set Invoice Entering Policies

  • Institute policies for entering invoices into Bill.com, including required fields, naming conventions, due date calculations, etc. Standardization promotes accuracy.

Keep the Audit Trail in Mind

  • Bill.com maintains a complete audit trail of all transactions, approvals, and supporting documentation. Structure your accounts payable process in Bill.com with accounting oversight and controls in mind.

Best Practices for Onboarding Vendors

Collecting Vendor Information

When adding a new vendor to Bill.com, it's important to collect relevant details upfront to ensure proper configuration. Key information to gather includes:

  • Contact Details: Full name, email address, phone number
  • Address: Street address, city, state, zip code
  • Tax Details: Federal Tax ID, entity type (individual, LLC, corporation etc.)
  • Bank Details: Routing number, account number, account type

Having this information ready will allow for an efficient vendor onboarding process.

Entering Vendor Details

Once vendor information has been collected, follow these steps to add the vendor in Bill.com:

  1. Navigate to the Vendors tab and click "Add Vendor"
  2. Enter the contact details, address, tax details and bank account information
  3. Specify if the vendor requires 1099 reporting
  4. Add any relevant notes or optional documents
  5. Click "Submit" to complete vendor setup

Accurately entering in all the collected details reduces the chance of errors and speeds up the verification process.

Verifying Bank Accounts

An important final step when adding a vendor is to validate the bank account number before making any payments. This can be done by:

  • Making a small $1 test payment and asking the vendor to confirm receipt
  • Requesting a voided check from the vendor to cross-check account details
  • Manually calling the vendor to validate the account verbally

Taking the time to verify bank accounts avoids misdirected payments and builds trust with vendors early on.

Following structured onboarding processes makes managing vendors in Bill.com scalable over time. Collecting the right information upfront, accurately entering details, and validating bank accounts are best practices to enable smooth vendor payment automation.

Working with Vendor Invoices in Bill.com

Managing vendor invoices efficiently is critical for healthy cash flow and financial operations. The Bill.com platform provides tools to streamline the entire invoice lifecycle from receipt to payment.

Receiving & Organizing Invoices

Vendors can submit invoices directly to your Bill.com account through the digital inbox. This automatically logs and saves the invoices for future reference.

To keep organized as invoices accumulate:

  • Use custom labels like "Approved", "Pending Approval", "Paid" etc. to track status
  • Set up rules to route invoices to the right people automatically
  • Sort invoices by due date so the most urgent appear first

Coding Invoices

Adding expense codes and other metadata ensures invoices are paid from the correct accounts. In Bill.com you can:

  • Build a central chart of accounts and attach to invoices
  • Set rules to auto-code invoices from specific vendors
  • Route invoices to the right people to review coding

Accurate coding saves time reconciling accounts after payment.

Collaborating on Invoice Approvals

Bill.com makes it easy to collaborate with stakeholders during approvals:

  • Automatically route invoices based on rules
  • @mention specific people to review an invoice
  • Discuss any questions in-line using comments
  • View approval status and digital signature log

Streamlining collaboration reduces bottlenecks so invoices get paid faster.

Scheduling Payments

Once approved, invoices in Bill.com can be paid by:

  • Print and mail physical checks
  • Pay by direct ACH transfer
  • Pay by virtual card payment
  • Export to accounting software

Scheduled recurring payments further simplify payables. You can also select a future payment date when additional funds are available.

Automating payments improves efficiency, cash management, and vendor relationships.

Monitoring Vendor Spending Activity

Managing vendor relationships and expenses is a critical part of running a successful business. With Bill.com's robust reporting and analytics tools, you can closely track spending across all your vendors and gain valuable insights into your accounts payable processes.

Spend Report Overview

The Spend Report in Bill.com provides an at-a-glance summary of payments made to each vendor over any date range you specify. It includes total spend amounts as well as the number of bills paid per vendor. You can filter and group the report by vendor name, category, location and more to analyze expenses across different dimensions.

Key details provided in the Spend Report include:

  • Total spend with each vendor over selected period
  • Number of bills paid per vendor
  • Percentage breakdown of spend by vendor
  • Charts summarizing payments by vendor

This high-level summary equips you to monitor which vendors account for the largest share of expenses and quickly spot spending anomalies.

Interactive Charts & Graphs

In addition to the overview report, Bill.com offers interactive graphs and charts to visualize vendor spend patterns. These provide visual summaries of expenses by:

  • Vendor
  • Expense category
  • Payment type
  • Approval wait times
  • Bill due dates
  • And more

You can easily filter the charts by date ranges, vendors, categories, or other parameters. Hovering over data points gives you precise figures. These dynamic and customizable visuals make it easy to identify expense trends and outliers at a glance.

Exporting Data & Analysis

For more advanced analysis, Bill.com enables you to export raw vendor payment data or pre-configured reports into Excel. You can also integrate Bill.com analytics directly with accounting platforms like QuickBooks or NetSuite.

Within Excel, you can create custom formulas, pivot tables, and other tools to:

  • Analyze costs by vendor, category, location, approver, etc.
  • Track expenses over time to forecast future budget needs
  • Optimize payment workflows to reduce approval bottlenecks
  • Identify opportunities to consolidate vendor relationships for volume discounts

With robust reporting and seamless integrations, Bill.com provides complete visibility into vendor spend for informed, data-driven decisions.

Conclusion & Next Steps

Bill.com provides a streamlined platform for efficiently managing vendor payments and optimizing your accounts payable workflows. Key benefits include:

  • Automated approval workflows to simplify the invoice review and payment process
  • Customizable rules to flag invoices for further review based on your criteria
  • Integration with accounting software to sync vendor and payment details
  • Digital storage of invoices and documents in one centralized location
  • Reporting tools to analyze spending patterns and track payments

By leveraging Bill.com to manage vendors and payables, you can reduce manual tasks, minimize errors, improve transparency into cash flow, and optimize the timing of payments to take advantage of early payment discounts when available.

If you're looking to modernize your payables system and achieve back-office efficiencies, Bill.com is an excellent solution to consider. Sign up for a free trial to experience the platform and see how it can benefit your finance workflows.

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