Bookkeeping boring? Think again. “It all depends on how you approach it,” says mentor Wouter Noben. He guides new colleagues through the world of Accounts Payable (AP). “The world of bookkeeping is exciting. It truly is!”
Wouter (28) has a Master’s degree in Applied Economics (TEW) and works at TriFinance, his first employer, for almost 6 years. “I learned a lot on the projects I did and I even went to India for a client,” says Wouter. His route within the Blue Chip Boutique Transition & Support (T&S) Antwerp/Hasselt consists of operational bookkeeping, project management, controlling (both financial and business), but he also gives training.
There's more to AP than most people think.
Wouter benefits from his hands-on experience when giving workshops on Accounts Payable for colleagues that have little to no experience within the field. “It is a very interactive workshop. We start with some general questions such as ‘what does someone at Accounts Payable do?’ ‘Who does he/she work with?’ Usually I get answers such as booking invoices, preparing payments, answering questions from suppliers. But AP is more than most think and it involves more people than just finance colleagues. What's also striking is that the participants do not fully realize that when there is a problem with an invoice, it's often not the related to the AP department.”
When something is wrong with an invoice, the cause is often not related to the bookkeeping department, but somewhere else in the chain.
After the general part of the workshop, Wouter divides the participants into smaller groups and gives each of them an envelope with building blocks with which they can construct the Business-to-Business (B2B) and Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) process. “This exercise teaches them that a lot happens before there is an invoice, which is only discussed later in the process. When something goes wrong - for example, there is something wrong with an invoice or the payment is delayed - the issue is usually not related to the accounting department, but elsewhere in the chain. It is important to check what's the underlying problem. When you look at bookkeeping like this, you realize that it is an enriching task. In some cases, even principles of project management are involved. ”
The exercises in the workshop are supplemented with testimonials from participants who have already completed an AP project. Wouter also shares his own AP experiences. Finally, participants raise situations in which things go wrong in the chain. The others have to come up with solutions. Varied problems arise, but the solution is often the same: contact the department concerned. Wouter adds that soft skills are crucial: “Get off your chair. Go to the purchasing department, the warehouse,… In short: get all noses in the same direction. ”