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Monday, February 13, 2006

Traveling Accounts Payable Clerk

Shortly after finding the lost truckload of eggs ( see Who is Fred Hardy? post), I went to our sites to strengthen receiving controls. At one account, a pile of old bills was hidden beneath the telephone book. Manilla folders loaded with unpaid invoices were everywhere.

Starting in Western Colorado, I setup a new set of controls for handling receiving, inspection and documention. Even today, it's important to balance automation with proper documentation. Many of the controls we used then would help most operators.

For the office, buy a set of six plastic baskets and label them MEAT/FISH, PRODUCE, DAIRY, GROCERIES, PAPER/CHEMICALS, OTHER. Set up a spreadsheet or column pad with Supplier, Invoice Number, Date and the categories on the basket. Use a separate spreadsheet for each week. If you handle alcoholic beverages, make a column for BEER, WINE and LIQUOR.

On the receiving dock, get a large basket and label it TODAY'S DELIVERIES. All shipping documents will be temporarily stored in the basket. You'll also need a clipboard (no spreadsheet this time). On the clipboard, you'll need a sheet with columns SUPPLIER, INVOICE, AMOUNT, RECEIVED BY. Feel free to add other columns but make sure there is a RECEIVED BY column.

For each delivery, the responsible person should examine every item for specification, price, quantity and condition. All rejected goods should be clearly marked and initialed. The person observing the delivery needs to sign off on the invoice and on the sheet. They should fill in the basic information on the clipboard log. At the end of the receiving period, they should total the amounts on the log and in the invoice bin. The adding machine tape for each should be initialed and included in the invoice basket. All of the paper work should go to the office the same day.

The office person should feed the category baskets with the invoices. Check each invoice for the appropriate signature and notations before the account distribution. If there are any invoices with no signature, have the manager of the receiving person sign off on the invoice. They will need to go to the storage area and make sure the goods were received. Make a note of the Supplier and the delivery person if possible.

For each basket, run an adding machine tape. Initial the tape and mark it with the category. Finally, make a summary tape totaling all categories. The total should agree with the receiving dock total. Investigate all discrepancies, credits, missing numbers, etc.

Now you can complete the spreadsheet or column sheet for the day. Print or copy the sheet and staple all initialed tapes to the document.

Our office manager Barb always called me the Traveling Accounts Payable Clerk because I started every site visit checking the files for this information. After achieving a food cost 20% below budget ($4.80 per manday vs. $6.00), my boss had me visit every site with substandard numbers.

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