Money Matters

Time waster #8: Tracking down invoice approvals

Accounts payable clerks have their work cut out for them when it comes to keeping track of invoices sent out for approval. Paper invoices are easily misplaced in the hustle and bustle of the job site. Even if a bill was sent through email, it can get buried among the whirlwind of submittals, drawings, RFIs, meeting minutes, and other job correspondence project managers deal with every day. Finding out who has just one invoice can take numerous phone calls and emails. Multiply that by the number of invoices your construction firm deals with each year, and you can almost see the hands on the not-productive clock quickly ticking away.

Time efficient invoice approval

Many contractors are taking another approach to streamline the invoice approval process: They are integrating document management software with their accounting and project management systems. This allows them to set up customized routing rules to make the invoice approval process as efficient as possible. As a result, AP clerks can track invoices electronically while they route from person to person to see exactly who’s sitting on them. It also makes it easier for project managers to see each day the list of invoices they need to approve.

More than just invoices

The construction process is traditionally paper intensive. But it doesn’t have to be. In addition to invoices, you can also electronically store, retrieve, and route lien waivers, AIA payment applications, and other construction documents. For added time savings, look for document management software that will:

  • Automatically notify reviewers, via email, that a document has been sent to them for approval or other action.
  • Let you “digitally staple” related emails, delivery tickets, POs, subcontracts, change orders, and other documents to invoices
  • Create and deploy electronic forms such as daily reports, punch lists, purchase requisitions, and expense reports.
  • Easily find documents associated with an invoice, vendor, job, or other criteria.
  • Maintain a history of any revisions made to documents or action taken such as approvals.

According to the Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, document management applications are among the top five software technologies contractors plan to invest in this year. Not surprising. Many contractors are simply fed up with the paper chase and taking steps to do something about it.

This post is part of a blog series focused on the top ten time waster often found in construction firms. To learn more about the other nine time wasters, download out new e-book.