Bill.com- More Pros & Cons of Part 2 – Specifics
Bill.com is a cloud-based accounting application our firm has been using for several years. In Part 1, I covered some general pros and cons of bill.com. This blog post will delve into some of the specifics, especially with regards to the accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) functionality of Bill.com. Like the first, keep an eye out for the insider notes!
Send in bills- Bill.com has three ways you can send in bills to the system: fax, email, and direct upload. The fax number and email address are dedicated to your company so vendors can send their invoices directly into the Bill.com application. This saves you time, and vendors will have the peace of mind of knowing their bills are getting to you quickly and haven’t gone missing in the mail or lost in someone’s desk stack.
Approval process, policies, and access– Bill.com makes it really easy to set up an approval workflow. The approvers are entered in with the bill in the order that they should make the approval. You can also set policies for bills and vendor credits.
Insider’s note!For example, you can say:
- Jane Smith is the default first approver for all bills and/or
- All bills need to have a minimum of 2 approvers and/or
- For bills over $10,000, it needs 3 approvers of which the ED and board treasurer are mandatory.
Approvers can elect to get email notifications as soon as something is assigned to them or choose to get notifications on a timescale that works for them (daily, weekly, certain days of the month, or never).
Once a bill is saved, the first approver receives a notification, approves the bill, prompting a notification to go out to the next approver on the list. Approvals, like everything else, can be done on a laptop, phone, iPad, etc. so busy board members can access, review, and approve or deny the bill quickly and from anywhere. We work with a virtual non-profit with approvers scattered across the country, and this has been extremely beneficial for their work flow.
Keep in mind that if a bill is denied, Bill.com keeps track of the denial, reasons, and subsequent corrections.
E-payments for ARs and APs—Your vendors can set up free Bill.com accounts so they can get ACH payments from you. If they don’t want to do that, Bill.com will send them an e-check instead! Bill.com prints and mails them to your vendors so you don’t have to go through a redundant check-cutting and signature cycle. In addition, they’ll note on the bill’s history when the check (or e-Payment) has cleared along with an image of the check.
For ARs, you can set it up so that your clients can click on a button on the electronic invoice to pay you online via ACH or credit card! In addition, Bill.com tracks whether the bill has been paid electronically and if so, when the payment will hit your bank account. They’ll also send out automatic reminders on a timeline you set.
Insider’s note!You can set recurring invoices and your customers can set automatic recurring payments as well!
Insider’s note! Not comfortable with e-checks or ACH payments? You can choose to print paper checks from your accounting system instead!
Cash flow management- If you use Bill.com for your APs and ARs, you’ll also be able to use their cash flow tools. Simply enter in your starting bank balance and Bill.com will track the money you are scheduled to receive as well as bill payments for the next three months and puts it in an easy-to-read chart form.
Organization (specifics) – You can also organize invoices by due date, see a history of all payments made, or run reports to pull information into Excel.
Insider’s note! You can easily check who is slowing down approval process for the entire bill cycle. In the “bills” section, there is an option to sort by approver and also notes when they were notified so you can see if Approver B has been sitting on 12 bills for at least two weeks! You can then send a reminder email to help get the process moving along.
Weaker AR – While Bill.com has some great AR features such as emailing or mailing invoices for you, tracking payments and whether a client has seen the electronic invoice, and facilitating electronic payments, their AP side is much more robust. They could use work on including more customization for invoice templates and some features, such as allowing a 2-way sync with your accounting system on customer information (like it does with vendors), are not uniform across the board and are dependent on the accounting system you use.
A few weird ticks- Like most accounting systems, Bill.com has its quirks. For example, you cannot pay $0.00 bills or remove them from the “Bills to Pay” docket but you can still create them. They’ll just hang around indefinitely. We use this trick for documenting bank reconciliation and payroll run approvals.
Unnecessary reminders – While it is possible to select your reminder method and intervals, you will receive a “reminder” email from Bill.com even if there is nothing for you to take care. This is a minor nuisance but has had us spend time explaining to clients why they are getting the message. Worst of all is that clients will gladly ignore an email under the assumption that it does not require an action on their part. As a result, we have to send our own reminders when approvals are delayed.
DVD data- Though this would technically fall under the “general” category, I wanted to save it for last as it’s the biggest drawback our firm has encountered. This point has to do with the data provided to you when leaving Bill.com. We switched one of our clients to a new accounting platform and created a clean Bill.com account with their new chart of accounts. This meant we no longer needed to keep the old account active. Unfortunately, while Bill.com provides you with a DVD with images of the bills, invoices, and payments, it does NOT include information such as approvals, coding, and the like. Since we switched the client to a new account, Bill.com is letting us keep the old account active for free, but this is not a long-term solution for clients who go switch to another platform nor for the accountants who are responsible for keeping (or providing ) the historical financial data for several years.
So that’s it! A comprehensive look at the pros and cons of Bill.com strictly from the perspective of someone who has worked with it for the past few years. In my book, the pros far outweigh any cons. The flexibility it gives accountants and clients alike, time saved by its workflow systems and automatic notifications, as well as the fact you can access it from anywhere/ anytime are key to making an AR/AP process work smoothly and efficiently.
Lana Kang earned a Bill.com guru certification and is currently the project coordinator at Lumix CPAs and Advisors. She supervises the digital media assistant, focuses on integrations between cloud-based accounting platforms, and oversees marketing efforts. When she isn’t reading, Lana volunteers at a local animal rescue organization and tries new cuisines. Find her on LinkedIn or follow Lumix on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.