Is your accounts payable process costing your HOA?

Is your accounts payable process costing your HOA?

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August 4, 2022

An HOA comes with a number of financial responsibilities — one of which is managing an accounts payable team. Without it, an HOA would experience large financial hardships and consequences. An accounts payable works as a leader in the HOAs financial course — it also plays a significant role in the financial health of the community. With the many advancements in HOA software and technology, you may find that some communities still lack the ability to adapt. To make matters worse, they could also be costing your HOA more time and money.  

What is the purpose of having an HOA accounts payable department?

An accounts payable department is put in place to help oversee the financial status of the HOA. They play a significant part in the HOAs financial standing and are held to a high degree of responsibility to maintain a particular standard. An accounts payable team manages payments that the HOA owes to the vendors or other expenses. Other responsibilities that work under this department may include: 

  • Accounts receivable
  • Generating financial statements
  • Audits
  • Processing payments to vendors
  • Association tax payments
  • Pursuing delinquent assessments
  • Balance sheets 

5 accounts payable issues affecting your HOA 

1. Paper invoices and supplies

A large part of processing invoices comes with having to purchase paper and supplies. Some communities can spend over $500 on just paper alone! In addition, the cost of labor and time it takes to print and mail out invoices all add up.   

Solution - An HOA accounting software is a unique tool that is specifically created for HOA associations. It provides the option to create and distribute digital invoices through a community portal or email. It also helps manage and organize digital invoices that are specifically related to the community. Other benefits may include: 

  • Bulk billing
  • Digital invoicing
  • Access to pay invoices online vs. mailed invoices

2. Time consuming processes

Have you found yourself spending multiple days trying to get an approval from the right person? Or perhaps spent an excessive amount of time collecting dues or digging through paper checks and invoices? If so, your accounts payable may be costing your HOA more money and unnecessary time. 

Solution - Reassess your processes and procedures. If your HOA does not utilize accounting software, consider reviewing your productivity time. Evaluate the amount of time and number of steps that are currently being exercised to complete your HOAs accounts payable processes — this includes collecting dues or distributing payments. 

When the same process has been put in place for many years, it’s common to repeat tasks that are unnecessary — a few reasons may include: new staff members, lack of training, new tools, technology and software updates, or miscommunication between staff members performing the same tasks. Consider the following questions when evaluating:  

  • How many people are required to perform the process?
  • Are you able to eliminate unnecessary or repeat steps? 
  • Are there any new tools that can help reduce time? 
  • How can you increase productivity and minimize cost? 

3. Unreliable software

Working with outdated software can cause a large amount of time and technical issues. With the vast amount of people working from home now-a-days, incorporating user-friendly software is vital. Vendors also play a large role in this — having to pay a vendor using a mailed check would take twice as long vs sending them an automated payment through a vendor portal or mobile application. 

Unfortunately, there are still communities that are not yet equipped to make this change. Whether it be due to cost or fear of change, a community is likely to not only lose money, but continue to stay behind the many new advances in technology. As a result, new vendors and homeowners may be turned away by communities that are reluctant to get on the technology train. 

Solution - Evaluate your community's feedback regarding areas of growth by sending a survey or hosting a Q&A community meeting.  

  • Would homeowners find it easier to make payments through a community software or mobile application? 
  • What do your homeowners find most important when living in an HOA?
  • What are your homeowners thoughts on your current payment system?

4. Poor financial management

Remember that board members are self-managed and are not always expert accountants. Not to mention the limited time that they have between accounting and other board responsibilities. When an HOA contains staff members that lack experience, large financial mistakes can occur. As a result, the HOA loses money and creates more time around trying to fix the issue. In addition, board members are not available 24/7 to answer questions and concerns. This can lead to a lack of trust and communication between the homeowner and their board.    

Solution - A management software can easily be customized to fit your community's needs. It can offer automation and accessibility features to any HOA. It also provides homeowners the opportunity to send inquiries straight from their phone or email. In addition, management softwares offers different forms of accounting features that are trusted to perform many of the tasks that an accounts payable team would do. 

5. Fear of change

The hardest part of change is the unknown. Although community associations are steadily shifting their way of replacing manual accounting tasks with technology driven tools, there may still be a strong hesitation from those of a tenured staff to make this shift. Why so? To simply put it — fear of change, fear of losing control or perhaps the fear of it being unsuccessful. In the end, those that are not willing to adapt could end up costing your HOA more money and drawbacks for those that are open to new developments.  

Solution - Education and patience. Technology-driven tools have become a large part of the responsibilities that newer CAMs (community association managers) are taking part in. The benefits have given staff members the option to work from home, along with easing financial and time consuming burdens. Although some staff members may not have the desire to seek the benefits, it is important to remember that not everyone handles change the same way. 

As a way to help get past this barrier, be a source of guidance for those that may not jump to respond so quickly. Be patient and educate in small doses — loading a large amount of information on someone that is unfamiliar with a topic can sometimes be overwhelming.   

TownSq financial management 

TownSq offers a streamline financial management software Powered by ATG that helps maintain and operate the communities financial operations such as accounts payable and financial records. 

  • Track A/R, A/P, and budget
  • Run financial reports
  • Process delinquencies
  • Maintain checking, savings, money market, and other account reconciliations
  • Manage electronic funds via secured transfer
  • Monitor investment funds and rollover dates

Benefits of an HOA accounts payable software system? 

1. Transparency

An important part of managing an accounts payable department comes with the ability to illustrate an HOAs finances in a clear and consistent manner. A management software is able to accurately track payments and forecast expected changes in budgets through virtual platforms and automated reports. 

2. Accessibility

An HOA accounting software allows an accounts payable team the ability to access personal and confidential information 24/7. 

  • Track payments and dues
  • Receive community or team updates
  • Send request and inquiries among other departments
  • Access personal account information remotely during non-business hours 
  • Communicate directly with other property managers or board members 

3. Reduces risks

There’s nothing worse than having a disorganized accounts payable team. An HOA software is able to help minimize risk, create transparency and bring consistency.

  • Security assessments
  • Budgeting for security measures 
  • Budgeting liability insurance and potential losses
  • Accurate record keeping 
  • Streamlined collection of dues 
  • Monitoring maintenance cost and repairs 

4. Streamlines day-to-day accounting responsibilities

An HOA accounting software can help streamline many of the day-to-day accounting responsibilities that are necessary to run an HOA properly.  

  • Automated data entry
  • Tracking violations and dues
  • Automated reporting
  • Templates for violations and other important documentation
  • Payment portals   

5. Privacy

Another benefit of a management software includes its ability to provide 100% privacy between the homeowner and board members — this includes confidential information between managers and other staff members.   

  • Customized private channels with visual preferences
  • Password only access options 
  • Log-in security verifications
  • Private and secure access to confidential information