When suppliers call a company to check on the status of payments, the clerical staff must research the information prior to giving a response. This can require a substantial amount of clerical time, and can also yield differing replies to suppliers if they call the company several times, resulting in supplier frustration. In addition, incoming supplier invoices may contain special provisions that require a detailed knowledge of the underlying purchasing contracts; otherwise, payments may be recorded improperly.
A simple way to avoid all these problems is to assign supplier accounts to specific accounts payable staff. By doing so, the accounting staff can individually concentrate their attention on a smaller group of suppliers, allowing them to learn how each one presents invoices for payment and how their payment transactions should be recorded. In addition, because of their increased knowledge level, they can provide answers to supplier questions more quickly and with greater accuracy.
This best practice is not a useful solution for very small companies, since there may be only one payables staff person available. It also presents problems for suppliers if their assigned staff person is not available, so the accounting manager should consider assigning a back-up person to each account.