Whether your company has shuttered job sites or is still working full tilt, COVID-19 has changed how you do business in every department, including Accounts Payable. Here’s what you need to do to make sure A/P is operating securely and while creating maximum value for your company no matter what the economic landscape looks like.
Rethink Your Payables Strategy
Even if your company has maintained good revenue and cash flow during the crisis, most economists admit they aren’t certain what the near-future holds. You may not need to slash expenses, but this probably isn’t the time to go on a spending spree.
This is a good time to rethink what your company buys and how you pay for it. What worked in the past might not be the best choice in this uncertain environment. And companies that face government-mandated work stoppages may reach a point where they can’t pay the same way they have been.
There’s no one-size-fits all approach – your strategy needs to account for your company’s unique circumstances. Points to consider include:
- Is it worth going for volume and early-payment discounts, or is it better to hold onto your cash longer?
- Is it worth changing payment methods (credit, purchasing cards, check, etc.) to save money, retain cash, or leverage discounts?
- Do you need to require or increase employee approvals for certain kinds of purchases or those over a certain dollar threshold?
If you do make changes to purchasing and/or payments, it’s best to communicate that clearly with employees so everyone understands the new guidelines.
Employees need to know that, while they may see some belt-tightening, there is a strategy behind it – and they play an important part in helping to execute it.
Secure Operations – Even at Home
Chances are your office staff is working remotely – many for the first time; some with young kids underfoot. While working from home keeps people physically safer, it also increases cybersecurity risks for your company. Further, accounting staff are more likely to be targeted by scammers.
For staff working remotely (especially accounting employees), check to see if IT has taken the following steps to more effectively protect them as they work from home:
- Increase the number of simultaneous VPN connections to ensure employees can access your network securely.
- Have a preferred videoconferencing platform for all employees to use and make sure security settings are appropriately set.
- Keep software updated on any company-issued devices and have appropriate security tools for any devices that have critical company information.
Remote employees should also be given clear guidelines explaining important tech security issues likely to crop up as people work from home for an extended period. Some key points to cover:
- Have separate devices for work and personal use, when possible. If the employee doesn’t have access to a second device, it may be possible to set up different user accounts for work and personal use.
- Spell out rules regarding use of passwords and company-approved programs, apps and platforms. You don’t want well-intentioned, but ill-informed, staffers using a program they thought would be helpful and downloading malware in the process.
- Be on higher alert for phishing and social engineering scams. Would-be crooks are crafting COVID-19 specific messages. The ploy is to look like they’re coming from banks, vendors or IT pros within your company who are offering help or confirming account information. Remind employees not to click links or download files from unfamiliar (or familiar, but unconfirmed) email accounts.
In challenging times, making sure your Accounts Payable function is running smoothly and securely can give builders and contractors extra peace of mind that their cash is protected.