Business Efficiency & Process Optimization Consultant 
Automatic Bill Payments

Accounts Payable

Bill management for your business falls under accounts payable to your vendors and this is an accounting process. Today we have a variety of payment options and things can get mixed up when we use different platforms to pay our bills. Why do we have so many platforms? We have different platforms because different people choose different merchant accounts. You cannot tell your vendor how you will pay them although there are people that try. You are your vendor's client and the vendor will send you a bill but the bill will have an "invoice" on the top. So just like you have a merchant account(s) to receive your sales income so does your vendor. You are paying them through their preferred merchant account provider.

Since most people think an "invoice" relates to their clients and that falls under sales they get mixed up when they receive a "bill" marked "invoice." Invoices and bill management in software are handled differently hence the confusion.

Bills are entered in the section for purchases and the purchases section is for what we call accounts payable.  Accounts payable are normally handled by a department in large companies.  The AP department is where you would have submitted things like purchase orders (PO) or expense reports for reimbursements or you submitted to your manager and your manager turns this into the AP department.  Bills are something that is paid later from the date you receive an invoice.  However, an expense is normally current.  Although both need planning a bill is set by your vendor.  An expense is also purchased from a vendor but it is flexible as you can change the amount for each purchase.

When using accounting software you can enter recurring expenses but to use the calendar feature you will need to enter them as bills.  You will need to schedule (future date) the bills as the recurring bills do not show up on Zoho's bills calendar for some reason.  We want the bills on the calendar to budget (remember a budget is a tool to manage a business. A budget is a road map to help us use the past to navigate the future. A budget is planned and successful stewardship of your businesses.)

I tested Zoho’s bill’s calendar for accounts payable management.  We can add auto-reoccurring expenses and bills.  I like this feature.

Here’s what the calendar looks like in Zoho, and we can set up reports to email you a bills due report.   I chose a spreadsheet format, but PDF is available as well:

Auto debit or auto-draft payments for bills and expenses will not auto-match your bills unless you use Forte.  I recently went through a test with Forte and they failed.  So, for me paying my bills online and adding in the auto-debit is faster and cheaper but you can let me know what you think.

If I click on one of the days with a dollar amount, I receive a pop-up with each bill that I can click on the bill and open the actual bill. So, from there I open my bank account to see what is posted or what is posting for the day, and I receive my auto payments. When I pay a bill that requires me to go to my vendor’s website after I pay and save my payment or get the email, I save it to a folder go to the bill, and process payment in Zoho. I attached my receipt for the bill there. The accounts payable person would handle this process if the business owner does not handle it.  This feature is for managing bills due (including auto payments and drafts) and planning spending. However, daily purchases will not show your daily expenses and the bookkeeper will help track your receipts to create those expense entries.

Your receipts for bills are separate.  Please add those to the bill payment screen as this will not auto-populate from the bank download.  Also adding the transaction via the bank will cause duplicate entries for the reports.

Problems with Forte

  1. Forte works but it is slower, and they charge higher fees to pay your bills online.  I had to fight them over PCI compliance because I had to either fill out a form that I do not understand or pay them $7.99 a month for a form that needs to be filed once a year.  If you do not use their service and if you do not understand the PCI compliance process Forte will charge $29.99 a month plus tax for non-compliance fees.  I have not seen PCI compliance fees since merchant accounts first rolled out, but Forte is still processing this way to get more money.  
  2. I had the close the accounts’ receivable part because I do not want to use Forte for client payments.  I had to argue with Forte and the customer service needs much improvement.  
  3. Setting up the Accounts Payable part proved to be difficult so if we do use them once you set up an account, they cannot change the account within the same bank, but they can change banks.  I have never seen anything like that before.  
  4. No billing statement until the next month.  So, Forte will send me a statement, but I cannot plan for expenses.  Personally, I do not like that feature.  Forte also does not seem to understand they are working with Zoho Books for Accounts Payable.  So, I am waiting to see the fees.  

The slow payments mean you need to send bill payments at least 5-7 days in advance.  Since I have free online bill payments with my bank, I send online payments only to certain vendors for a 2-day payment.  But this means the payment will not auto-update the bill.  I must add the payment to the bill in Zoho. Using Forte to pay bills may work for you but I believe we will need to be on the phone with Forte to ensure we get you the correct setup.  We can discuss this after I see what the fees are from Forte.  

Most people want to hire an accountant to handle bill payments and this is something we can do but it cost more. You have to pay your accountant a fee to handle this service, then you need to pay for the software, you would have to pay your merchant account fees, pay for features and services to bulk upload invoices, and pay for any other processing fees, pay for printed checks or electronic check stock. Most people can sit down and send online payments for less or for free with some banks. Normally it is more affordable to use Zoho Books to create recurring bills and update your bills as you receive the invoices and then record your payment in Zoho.

I know it is not "automated" but when you sit down to pay your bills you use your software like a checkbook. You would record payments at the same time and that would create "automatic bookkeeping" for your software.

However, bills from POs need more attention as this also manages your inventory, and inventory management takes more time and attention.

Post any questions or comments that you may have.

Evernote Users here is a link for you: Save To Evernote

Best Regards,

Yaschica Michelle Coard

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