Accounts Payable Skills: What You Need For A Successful Career In Accounts Payable
If you’re considering a career as an accounts payable clerk, or elsewhere within a company’s accounts payable department, then certain skills will make it easier for you to land and maintain a job. No matter where you start or plan to end up within the industry, these are the skills you’ll need for success. Whether you start as a junior accounts payable clerk or want to move into a management role, these skills are vital.
Every day, you’ll be dealing with a tremendous amount of documentation so you have to be able to organize everything and prioritize it accordingly. Even digital systems that eliminate a paper trail require a certain amount of organization. For instance, if a supplier invoice comes in, it may need to be uploaded to the system or scanned in from a paper document. To complete tasks in a timely manner, whether processing invoices or providing clerical support, accounts payable professionals have to keep vendor files organized so that information is easy to locate when they need it.
Ability to Prioritize
As an extension of organization skills accounts payable personnel must be able to prioritize according to due dates, invoice amounts, and various other factors. It’s crucial to know which invoices need to be paid first to avoid late fees, as well as knowing when you have the cash flow to pay everything without causing bank fees or returned payments
It’s important to have great communication skills as you will undoubtedly need to communicate with other people both within accounts payable and other departments throughout your company. Communication is necessary to establish the proper record-keeping procedures and to collaborate on tasks with other team members when required.
While procurement professionals will generally focus on negotiating with suppliers, in some smaller companies, the accounting department may serve as the procurement department. If you can negotiate with vendors, your job as an AP professional will be a lot easier. Maybe you’re not necessarily getting the best possible deal on the product but, negotiating early payment discounts or better payment terms.
If you have good communication skills, you’ll generally be able to build a rapport with others. Building rapport and strong vendor relationships can go a long way in making your day run smoothly.
“Many skills mentioned here are valuable in other careers and industries. The difference is that within AP, they aren’t just valuable they could be the difference between landing a job and never getting an interview.”
If you don’t like bookkeeping, then a job in AP isn’t going to work for you. To be successful in your role, you will have to have at least basic bookkeeping knowledge. If you love working as a bookkeeper, then you’re one step ahead.
Attention to Detail
Having an eye for detail helps when it comes to accuracy. Even a small error in AP can result in high costs and big problems for the organization.
Data Entry Skills
Entering large amounts of data into AP software correctly is required. Mistakes here can lead to big issues – such as overpayments, missed payments, And lost invoices. Those procure-to-pay process automation cans reduce the need for manual data entry and help spot errors, a certain amount of data entry will always be required in AP.
Ability to Work With Spreadsheets
what sheets are part of accounts payable and they always will be. Even when moving toward a fully automated procure-to-pay process, spreadsheets still have their value. An in-depth understanding of Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet software is vital for the industry.
Knowledge of Accounts Payable Principles
Without a broad knowledge of AP principles, you will find yourself struggling in any AP role. If you’re not familiar with vendor invoices, purchase orders, And all other parts of the full cycle of the accounts payable process, it will be difficult to handle your duties. Even though many companies are using automation to speed up invoice processing time, understanding the basic principles is necessary to avoid issues should automation find a discrepancy that requires human intervention.
Understanding of Accounting Concepts
This goes hand-in-hand with having a broad knowledge of accounts payable principles. It expands upon it to include principles of General accounting and accounts receivable. You should be familiar with general ledgers, financial transactions, expense reports, and other documentation related to accounting.
Love of Numbers
Though obvious, it is a foundation skill for any job in finance. This is essential when it comes to generating monthly reports, dealing with invoice discrepancies, and nearly all of your job responsibilities as an accounting clerk.
Understanding of Numerical Coding
Mini AP jobs require a lot of numerical coding. If you are in an entry-level or technician role, being able to spot details amongst all of these codes is important.
Ability to Grasp New Software
New programs and accounting software will continue to pop up as the industry and technology expands. If you can grasp these relatively easily, you will be well on your way to success. You’ll be dealing with a lot of financial information and historical records, and the software will ultimately make your job easier.
Ability to be a Team Player
This is something nearly everyone needs today. Many employers ask everyone at their interview whether or not they are a team player. If you cannot work with others well, you won’t be able to succeed in the AP industry.
Sense of Personal Responsibility
Taking responsibility for your job is required in many industries but is especially the case within AP. Each person is responsible for their workload and their part in the bigger picture. If tasks and other responsibilities are ignored, it will affect more than one person.
While you can learn many of these skills in college, in either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree program , there are accounts payable clerks who start with just a high-school diploma. Even still, some of the skills presented here may be considered innate, making them harder to learn and a traditional educational environment.
Though an accounts payable clerk may have different job duties depending on the industry they work in and the size of the company they work for, the more you can hone your skills, the better.
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