There are no prerequisites.

Course Description

Best practices for the accounts payable function are critical for those organizations concerned about profitability. Poor practices result in excess cost, duplicate payments, increased processing expenses, potential fraud, and frayed vendor relationships. And, of course there is the growing issue of regulatory compliance as the federal and state governments look for their fair share. This course presents information you can use to identify best practice problems as well as regulatory concerns. Industry expert Mary S. Schaeffer explains the issues related to the accounts payable function to auditors, controllers, and managers. She then reveals the best practices for myriad issues and identifies almost best practices for those cases where it is not possible to use the best practice.

Please note that the information covered in this course is also covered in Creating an Accounts Payable Policy and Procedures Manual, Internal Controls in Accounts Payable, and Vendor Issues in Accounts Payable.


Mary S. Schaeffer, MBA

Mary S. Schaeffer, MBA, has the inimitable ability to find accounts-payable-related solutions that really work—without making a major dent in the bottom line. Armed with a degree in math and a graduate degree in finance, she takes a “roll up your sleeves and dig into the details” approach to finding solutions to those problems that cause migraines for CFOs, controllers, and managers.

Fifteen years spent researching and writing about payment issues gives Mary a unique vantage point. Combine that with an almost equal amount of time spent in the corporate trenches of several large finance and treasury departments, and you’ll understand why she’s become known as America’s leading accounts payable expert.

A wide variety of institutions have taken advantage of her unique expertise: John Wiley & Sons has published over a dozen of her books; CRYSTALLUS, Inc. relies on her know-how to direct its professional publication, training, and consulting business; and the Institute of Financial Operations (IFO) turned to her to serve as its editor-in-chief, steering cutting-edge commentary into its Financial Ops magazine. She also developed the IFO’s Innovating Accounts Payable certificate program.

Mary shares her expertise in a variety of venues, giving 1-day seminars, as a guest speaker at regional and national events, and online in 25–30 webinars each year. For Western CPE, she produces self-study courses and webcasts.

She has a BS in mathematics from York College (CUNY) and an MBA in finance from New York University.

Course Specifics

Jul 20, 2017
There are no prerequisites.

Compliance Information

Qualifies for CA Fraud: No

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

Chapter 1

  • Identify how to implement a best practice policy.
  • Cite how you can utilize a policy and procedures manual effectively.

Chapter 2

  • Identify the importance of establishing strong master vendor file practices.
  • Cite why the segregation of duties is important.
  • Identify master vendor file cleanup practices.

Chapter 3

  • Identify effective invoice receipt practices.
  • List effective data entry rules for invoice processors.
  • Cite best practice invoice handling routines.

Chapter 4

  • Define effective practices for short-paying invoices, handling unidentified invoices, and managing discrepant invoices.

Chapter 5

  • Identify effective processes for printing and signing checks and storing check stock.

Chapter 6

  • Cite the benefits of paying electronically.

Chapter 7

  • Identify benefits and controls associated with a strong p-card program.

Chapter 8

  • Cite best practices for payments made outside accounts payable.
  • Identify ways to pay small dollar invoices without issuing a check.

Chapter 9

  • Identify the importance of creating and maintaining a policy and procedures manual.

Chapter 10

  • List strategies to eliminate duplicate payments when original invoices are missing.
  • Identify lost funds through an effective supplier statement review policy.

Chapter 11

  • Identify routines that help avoid making duplicate payments.
  • Identify the importance of creating an effective policy for requiring backup for rush payments.

Chapter 12

  • Identify the importance of segregation of duties.
  • List issues that need to be addressed when an employee leaves the organization.

Chapter 13

  • Cite the importance of a mandatory vacation policy as well as a job rotation policy.

Chapter 14

  • Cite the importance of a strong travel and entertainment policy.

Chapter 15

  • List reasons why cash advances are difficult for the accounts payable function.
  • Identify an efficient and effective policy for reimbursing employee for travel expenses.

Chapter 16

  • Identify what is required for information reporting to the IRS.
  • Cite how to integrate IRS TIN Matching into the new vendor setup function.

Chapter 17

  • Identify a policy that will enable the organization to report and remit unclaimed property.

Chapter 18

  • Identify a policy that includes accruing and reporting use tax for all the organization's sales tax obligations.
  • Identify how to incorporate regular OFAC checking into the payment process to ensure payments are not made to terrorists.
  • Identify potential situations where a payment may actually be a bribe to a foreign official in conflict with FCPA regulations.

Chapter 19

  • Identify a process to effectively deal with invoices.
  • Identify a policy to address issues related to the use mobile devices in accounts payable.

Chapter 20

  • Identify methodologies for communicating relevant payment information to vendors before problems arise.

Chapter 21

  • Identify how payment timing can help or hurt an organization.
  • Cite strategies for sharing critical payment status information with vendors.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Managing the AP Function

Learning Objectives

10 Reasons Why Best Practices in Accounts Payable Matter

The Issue: Best Practice Policy

The Issue: Policy and Procedures Manual

The Issue: Staff Training

The Issue: Soliciting Process Improvement Recommendations

The Issue: Payment Audits

Chapter 1 Review Questions

Chapter 2 – Master Vendor File

Learning Objectives

Issue: Who Has Access to the Master Vendor File

Issue: Master Vendor File Setup

Issue: Naming Conventions for the Master Vendor File

Issue: Updating the Master Vendor File

Issue: Master Vendor File Cleanup

Issue: Self-Service Master Vendor Files

Chapter 2 Review Questions

Chapter 3 – Invoice Processing

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Receipt of Invoices

The Issue: Invoice Handling Approvals

The Issue: Invoice Data Requirements

The Issue: Verifying Invoice Data

The Issue: Invoice Coding Standards

Chapter 3 Review Questions

Chapter 4 – Invoice Headaches: The Problem Children Invoices

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Short-Paying Invoices

The Issue: Handling Unidentified Invoices

The Issue: Handling Invoices without Invoice Numbers

The Issue: Discrepant Invoices

Chapter 4 Review Questions

Chapter 5 – Checks

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Approach to Paying by Check

The Issue: Check Printing

The Issue: Check Signing

The Issue: Check Stock Storage

The Issue: Distribution of Checks

The Issue: Check Fraud

The Issue: Use of Payee Name Positive Pay

Chapter 5 Review Questions

Chapter 6 – ACH (Electronic Payments)

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Approach to Paying Electronically

The Issue: Converting Vendors to ACH Payments

The Issue: Handling Change of Bank Account Requests

The Issue: Convincing Vendors to Convert

The Issue: Handling Remittance Information

Chapter 6 Review Questions

Chapter 7 – An Effective P-Card Program

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Design of the P-Card Program

The Issue: Setting Strong Internal Controls in Your P-card Program

The Issue: Increasing Usage of the P-card in Your Organization

The Issue: Setting Attractive Payment Terms

The Issue: Increasing Rebates based on Card Usage

Chapter 7 Review Questions

Chapter 8 – Payment Strategy

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Establishing an Overall Payment Strategy

The Issue: Paying Small-Dollar Invoices

The Issue: A Rush or Emergency Payment Policy

The Issue: Payments Made Outside Accounts Payable

The Issue: Basic Fraud Protection against ACH Fraud

Chapter 8 Review Questions

Chapter 9 – Policy and Procedures Manual

Learning Objectives

Issue: Use of the Manual

Issue: Creating an Accounts Payable Policy and Procedures Manual

Issue Updating an Accounts Payable Policy and Procedures Manual

Issue: Providing Access to the Accounts Payable Policy and Procedures Manual

Chapter 9 Review Questions

Chapter 10 – Operational Aspects

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Paying When the Original Invoice Is Missing

The Issue: Limiting Calls to Accounts Payable

The Issue: Petty Cash

The Issue: Reviewing supplier statements

The Issue: Adopting a Policy of Never Returning Checks to Requisitioners

Chapter 10 Review Questions

Chapter 11 – Duplicate Payment Issues

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Using Processing Standards

The Issue: Duplicate Payment Avoidance

The Issue: Mandating a Rigid Work Process or Eliminating Creativity When Processing Invoices

The Issue: Some Quick Checks to Identify Duplicate Payments

Special Pointers for Accounts Payable:

Chapter 11 Review Questions

Chapter 12 – Internal Controls

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Appropriate Segregation of Duties

The Issue: Appropriate System Access

The Issue: Policy when Employees Leave

The Issue: Eliminating Weak Control Practices

The Issue: Staff Training

Chapter 12 Review Questions

Chapter 13 – Fraud Prevention: General

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Mandatory Vacation Policy

The Issue: Job Rotation Policy

Chapter 13 Review Questions

Chapter 14 – Travel and Entertainment Policy

Learning Objectives

The Issue: A Formal Policy

The Issue: Expense Report Form

The Issue: Verifying Data

The Issue: Handling Receipts

The Issue: Detailed Meal Receipts

Chapter 14 Review Questions

Chapter 15 – Travel and Entertainment Issues

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Cash Advances

The Issue: Unused Tickets

The Issue: Departing Employees

The Issue: Making Travel Reservations

The Issue: Reimbursing Employees

Chapter 15 Review Questions

Chapter 16 – Regulatory Issues: Information Reporting

Learning Objectives

The Issue: A Form W-9/W-8 Requirement Policy

The Issue: Collecting and Tracking Form W-9 and Form W-8 Policy

The Issue: Using IRS TIN Matching Properly

Chapter 16 Review Questions

Chapter 17 – Regulatory Issues: Unclaimed Property

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Reporting and Remitting Unclaimed Property

The Issue: Performing Due Diligence for Unclaimed Property

The Issue: Using Social Media to Track Rightful Owners of Unclaimed Property

Chapter 17 Review Questions

Chapter 18 – Regulatory Issues: Other

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Proper Handling of Sales and Use Tax

The Issue: Regular OFAC Checking

The Issue: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Monitoring

Chapter 18 Review Questions

Chapter 19 – Technology

Learning Objectives

The Issue: An Accounts Payable Technology Plan

The Issue: Handling of Emailed Invoices

The Issue: Invoice Automation

The Issue: Use of Mobile Devices in Accounts Payable

Chapter 19 Review Questions

Chapter 20 – Communications/Vendor Relations

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Communicating Relevant Information to Vendors

The Issue: Working with Purchasing

Chapter 20 Review Questions

Chapter 21 – Cash Flow Management Issues

Learning Objectives

The Issue: Taking Early Payment Discounts

The Issue: Payment Timing

The Issue: Payment Status Information for Vendors

Chapter 21 Review Questions

Closing Thoughts

Review Question Answers and Rationales



Final Examination

Answer Sheet

Course Evaluation



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