As a project manager you are not the only person in your company who is interested in tracking where the organisation’s money goes. As well as the project expenses the Finance team will also track all company expenditure but they can be a great ally when you are looking at project costs.
If your project costs include more than just staff time you could potentially be buying goods and services as part of your project. Your role will include authorising purchase orders, raising them and checking when the invoices come in and processing the invoices. Your role could also include working with suppliers when they don’t get paid on time to try to resolve any payment queries. Now the team in your company’s Finance department who will be the most help to you with all that is the Accounts Payable team.
In a large company you may have an Accounts Payable team made up of a number of different people but you could also have a multi-functional Finance person who provides Accounts Payable services, if you like, as part of their role. So the first step is to find out who deals with Accounts Payable.
An account payable is something where you have received an invoice and the company needs to pay it. As a project manager the things that you are most likely to be buying are goods and services. There is normally – well, there should be – a wall between people who can approve invoices and people who can actually press the button to pay the money that goes out the door of the company. That’s so that people can’t raise invoices to themselves and then process the invoice and pay themselves. So it’s a security feature and it’s quite an important thing.
So you may well be able to submit the invoice for payment but you won’t ever see anything to do with the bank accounts. That’s what the Accounts Payable team will do on your behalf. The most useful thing that they can do apart from that general administration and processing of invoices is helping you resolve queries with suppliers. If suppliers come back to you and say that they haven’t been paid on time, it is that person that you will need to ring to find out how you need to get the invoice processed, if there is a problem with the invoice, why it’s got stuck, maybe they didn’t receive it, maybe the money has been paid but it’s gone to potentially a different account, and they can deal with all those things for you.
That’s a really good relationship to have as a project manager as it can smooth out queries with suppliers. So if you know who to talk to in Finance for invoicing queries you can build better relationships with the people who are working with you on your project.