5 accounts payable nightmares that keep you up at night

October 24, 2018 Matt Vermeulen

Ah, Halloween. The holiday of candy treats, sugar-shocked masked kids, and terrible horror movies. For accounts payable, it can conjure up other nightmares. Are you in one of the average accounts payable departments that receive 56 percent of invoices in paper? Then that paper’s probably already rolling over you this Halloween season, pouring into your office like the blob, consuming all life in its pulpy way.

Or maybe manual processing is more of a psychological horror show. If so, these common Accounts Payable pain points can make you feel like you’re working in a waking nightmare:

Nightmare 1: Endless paper invoices

A white room. Fluorescent lights. A stack of full banker boxes next to a table and chair. You in the chair. Separating white, yellow, and pink carbon paper into neat stacks. Your desk partner: Existential Despair.

Nightmare 2: Finding the right person to approve the invoice

You’re looking for someone to approve your invoices. You’re in a white hallway with white doors. Linoleum floor. 90-degree hallways branch off every ten feet. Each turn takes you back to where you began. Each door opens into the same hallway. You walk by rooms of empty desks and cubicles. All approving managers are on PTO.

Nightmare 3: Missing payments

The mailroom is down the hall. You have an addressed invoice in your hand. You enter the mailroom. The mailbag is a dark and empty hole with no bottom. Your invoice disappears inside. You walk back to your desk. The same invoice is on your desk. The phone rings. Your supplier wants to know why they don’t have payment yet.

Nightmare 4: Correcting mistyped account codes

A row of fluorescent lights. One of them is buzzing. On your desk: a string of wrong account code numbers. On one, you change the number 9 to a 6. Another needs a 5 to be a 2. You fix it. You look up at the flickering light. You look back. You can’t remember the numbers you changed. A 3 turns into an 8 when you blink. The payments process to opposite accounts.

Nightmare 5: Disappearing Invoices

You have a strategic meeting at 1PM with your CFO. It’s 12:50. In your hand is a stack of invoices. It’s important to deliver them before your meeting. You walk down the hall. You are in a new building. You look at your hand. The invoices are gone. It’s important you make the meeting. The building is across the street. You look at your watch. It’s 1:50.


You look up from your lunch. You can see your desk from the breakroom. It’s full of papers. The floor is stacked with banker boxes. Your inbox and voicemail are full of queries from suppliers looking for missing payments. You have to find the right people to approve all the invoices waiting for a yes or no. Your CFO scheduled a meeting for 2PM to talk about strategy.  

Wake up from the manual nightmare with Tradeshift. See how DHL embraced AP automation with the help of Tradeshift’s business commerce platform here.

About the Author

Matt Vermeulen

Matt Vermeulen writes about B2B commerce for Tradeshift. Whether he's writing about Accounts Payable best practices or debunking AI myths, Matt enjoys making complex topics easy to understand and fun to read.

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