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Ask the AP Automation Expert: Solutions Consultant Rhonda Greene

February 29, 2016
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Rhonda Greene has served in several integral roles for AvidXchange over the last few years, including Vice President of Payment Services. Rhonda has been in the accounts payable world for more than 20 years in various roles, and has witnessed the transition from paper-based processes to completely automated AP and payment processes firsthand.

Rhonda enjoys sharing her best practices with other financial professionals to help them navigate day-to-day AP challenges. We sat down with Rhonda to discuss her background in accounts payable and how AP automation is changing the landscape – check out our discussion below!

How long have you been in the accounts payable world?

I started in accounting in the late ’80s; back then, paper checks were the only method of payment that companies used. Copies of every single check had to be made, and there were file cabinets full of them.

What’s it been like watching paper-based AP departments utilize automation solutions?

It’s been revolutionary, to be quite honest with you. When I started in the late ‘80s, everything was paper-based. As an AP manager, I had a huge staff of dedicated file clerks – all they did was file invoice and check copies.

That’s it. In the early 2000s, some savvy accounting software developers introduced the idea of document management, allowing us to scan invoice images so that we didn’t have to keep up with all the paper. Since those early days, companies like AvidXchange have revolutionized the process.

After 20 years in accounts payable, you joined AvidXchange…

For the past four years, I’ve served as the VP of Payment Services. The Payment Services team facilitates payments on behalf of our clients. We have a dedicated team that works with vendors to make electronic payments, including Virtual Credit Card (VCC) and ACH (Automated Clearing House). Our team supports clients by answering questions, handling issues, and following up on every single outstanding payment – which, just from my experience in accounting, is a huge service in of itself.
I recently transitioned to a Solutions Consultant role, which means I get to pursue my passion of helping clients by sharing my firsthand experience in the accounts payable space. I’ve made it my personal mission to spread the word about automation and show my fellow AP professionals a better way.

In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of AP automation?

To be honest with you, the biggest benefit is cost savings. With automation, you’re able to take people that are doing data, filing, and other mundane tasks, and give them an opportunity to do things like account reconciliation or analysis. Instead of spending time stuffing envelopes, mailing checks, and hunting down approvers, automation makes the process efficient and frees up an accounting team to focus on high-level tasks that help the company.

Why are companies still using paper checks?

Accountants are notorious for being adverse to change. I know this because I was one. We have to be in control of all things at all times. The reason companies are still using paper checks is because there’s this misconception that automation means less control.

How does automation reduce fraud risk?

I have a lot of experience with B2B fraud. In my 20+ year career in accounts payable, I’ve personally witnessed 30-40 instances of fraud. Back in the day, criminals would steal paper checks out of the mail and – using sophisticated equipment – wash the payee name or dollar amount off of the check and alter it. Those checks would go through left and right because there was nothing in place to proactively prevent it.

With paper, you don’t have the ability to put a series of checks and balances on it. Electronic payments are so much more secure than a paper check ever will be. With automation, you can add additional approvals to the process and create reports that check for duplicate invoices. Our software tracks who enters an invoice, who approves it, and who batches it to the accounting system – and it can’t be the same person for each task, which stops collusion in its tracks.

What does the future hold for ePayments and AP automation?

Electronic payments and AP automation are the future. My job is to get out there and spread the word and make sure people understand that payment automation is extremely secure and our clients retain complete control and visibility into their payments. It’s all about changing a mindset, and that’s not always easy to do with those who are resistant to change. We want to become a conduit for payments.

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