Mary Schaeffer: “I believe, virtually every company will be able to use automation of some sort”

We recently had an interview with Mary Schaeffer (, a nationally-recognized expert on accounts payable. Mary Schaeffer is the editorial director and publisher of Accounts Payable Now & Tomorrow (, a CRYSTALLUS, Inc. publication. She is the author of 101 Best Practices for Accounts Payable, Internal Controls for Accounts Payable and many other business titles. We asked Mary to give her opinion on several invoice management and accounts payable issues.

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Are You Afraid of Accounts Payable Pitfalls?

Working in an accounts payable department may turn into a real nightmare. Invoice processing errors result in horrifying overpayments, duplicate or fraudulent payments, payments to wrong vendors, late payments and forgotten discounts. However, AP automation software will always help you avoid these pitfalls, taking your business to the new level.


Invoice Management Bottlenecks Typically Faced by Accounts Payable Professionals

“Carrying out accounting and paperwork tasks related to the current efficient maintenance as well as processing company accounts payable transactions…” or “Receiving, entering, checking invoices and payment requests for corporate policies, matching them against purchase orders…” – these are common accounts payable specialist job descriptions, calling for highly skilled professionals and offering positions in very different companies. HR specialists enlist necessary skills that accounts payable specialists should possess: strong organizational skills, independent work skills, accuracy, analytical and problem solving skills, attentiveness. However, even if they find skilled and experienced accounts payable professionals, it does not guarantee faultless invoice processing.

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Kaizen for Accounts Payable (Part 2)

In our previous blog about Kaizen we told you how the Japanese philosophy can help increase your accounts payable department efficiency through applying the main 5 Kaizen principles. In this blog we’ll explain you the concept of waste, its negative impacts on the working process, productivity and try to give you several tips on how to avoid it.


Kaizen is based on making little changes on a regular basis: always improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing waste. The concept of waste in Kaizen is defined as activity consuming resources (time, materials, money) but creating no value.

Wastes are the drivers of excess costs, delays and quality issues. The critical problem for management is not the one of knowing how to prevent a specific occurrence of waste. Instead, the critical problem is identifying the root cause of the waste and eliminating this cause.

Looking closer at a typical accounts payable department, we can identify several ordinary wastes declining the department’s performance efficiency. We can divide such wastes into the following categories: people waste, process waste, information waste and asset waste.

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Kaizen for Accounts Payable (Part 1)

Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy that focuses upon continuous improvement, seeking to achieve changes in processes in order to enhance efficiency and quality. Kaizen can be roughly translated from Japanese to mean “change for the good”. The concept of Kaizen encompasses a wide range of ideas: it involves making the work environment more effective by creating a team atmosphere, improving everyday procedures, ensuring employee satisfaction and making the job more fulfilling and less tiring.

Today Kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important pillar of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy. A lot of big and small companies across the world have adopted the Kaizen principles for doing business and running departments. In our blog we’ll examine this idea in the context of accounts payable issues.

To better understand the idea of Kaizen, we used our chance to ask Tsuneaki Sugata, Production Control Manager of Nissan Motor Company, to briefly tell us about the concept. Fortunately, Sugata-san kindly agreed to provide his assistance:

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How to Succeed in Accounts Payable Automation:
7 Must-Visit Websites

There are a large number of online resources dedicated to accounts payable automation. If you studied them though, you would see that most of such websites belong to APA solution vendors and are mainly focused on promoting specific software. Finding more practical information about accounts payable automation is pretty hard, so we decided to help you by selecting the cream of the crop.

Accounts Payable News

Accounts Payable NewsIf you want to stay up-to-date on all the latest AP and finance technologies, Accounts Payable News is a must-read recourse. This news website for accounts payable and P2P (purchase-to-pay) professionals gives insight into today’s best practice ideas, processes and technology.

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Key Phases in Implementing Accounts Payable Automation Software

Consider the following: you decided to implement an accounts payable solution and even have signed a contract with the software vendor. When the contract is signed, each party is supposed to know its counterpart’s obligations and responsibilities as well as their own ones described in the agreement. The contract helps stakeholders understand results expected upon the project completion. Signing an agreement though, is just the beginning of the whole implementation process, which is quite complex and phased. That is why it is crucial for vendors to build customer communication into their software implementation methodology. Lack of communication may easily lead to missed expectations, requirements, etc. Also, a well-organized customer communication ensures the visibility that allows clients to know what to expect throughout the implementation.

What is happening to your company during the whole implementation period? I would like to explain you the main phases and milestones of the overall implementation process using an example of our accounts payable automation solution Conterra FIM.

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