Friday, January 24, 2014 - 10:10

By Geraldine Cruz, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Bill.com

Nearly $10 per check. That is what market researchers estimate to be the cost of issuing paper checks. Contrast that with the roughly $1 per transaction for electronic payments (ACH). On the surface, that difference should catapult the migration from all paper checks to ACH to the top of your business priorities. But before you do, consider three critical questions:

  1. Do these numbers reflect the costs for your business accurately?
  2. What this your true return on investment (ROI) from moving to ACH?
  3. ACH may result in the loss of remittance information. What solutions can provide the value of ACH and the remittance information available in paper checks? 

This post will delineate all the costs of operating in-house payments. Even if your business only runs some of these tasks in-house, you can use the list as a basis for quantifying your costs.  Future posts will address the ROI of moving to ACH and resolving the loss of remittance information. 

Labor Costs

Labor costs comprise the largest expense incurred from in-house payment operations. Consider all of the steps involved in a fully manual process — from check approvals to handling payment exceptions.

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Some factors will mitigate the steps and the associated costs. An accounting or financial system that automates approval workflows will eliminate many of the pre-check-run activities.

But other factors will exacerbate the process. For example, more approvers and more complex approval rules complicate the process. More scheduled check runs per week result in repeats of these steps. And one-off or unscheduled check runs impose further time drain on staff time.

To calculate the labor costs for your business, use the figure as a framework for identifying:

  • What are all the steps involved in your in-house process?
  • Who is involved in performing the tasks?
  • What amount of time do these individuals spend in performing these activities? 
  • What are the fully-loaded compensation costs of these staff members?

Materials, Supplies, and Postage

To run in-house payment operations, businesses incur expenses for depreciation on magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) printers and envelope stuffing and sealing machines; postage; and supplies, including highly secure check stock, MICR toner, and envelopes. 

Bank Fees

Businesses pay bank fees for issuing checks. These costs may be included as separate line items in their bank statements, or may be bundled with other charges. Businesses will also pay incremental charges for fraud protection, such as positive pay, check reconciliation services, and retrieval of transaction history and check images. All of these costs should be considered in calculating the total cost of printing checks. 

Your Homework for this Week

A quantitative decision to move to ACH or to stay with paper checks requires a full assessment of the costs of all options. Some costs are overt, such as supplies and postage; other costs are not as obvious, such as the costs to investigate and reconcile payment exceptions. Use this post as a guide to begin to quantify the full costs of your operations. =

If you would like a tool to capture the costs of your payment operations, Bill.com has developed a calculator, in spreadsheet format, that captures the costs discussed in this blog. The calculator can be used to determine ROI of moving from checks to ACH payments. Contact us for a copy. 

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 16:03

By Julie Lubetkin, Vice President of Accountant Channel, Bill.com

Anyone who loves the Super Bowl has an inherent respect for the athletes that play in it. To qualify to wear an NFL jersey, players endure complex and science-driven trials that include physicals, body-movement screening, conditioning, proper nutrition and mental preparation. It can take years to develop and train to be a candidate to join a Super Bowl-eligible team. 

After all, football is one of the most competitive and demanding sports in the world. But the rewards - like that large ring the winners wear - are gigantic. 

Much like football, accounting is also a competitive field that demands the finest of conditioning to execute successfully. Firms vie for new clients and top talent while navigating through challenges caused by an ever-evolving industry. According to the 2013 AICPA PCPA CPA Firm Top Issues Diagnostic Report these challenges (identified by firm size) include:  

  • Playbook for AccountantsKeeping up with changes and complexities of tax laws (firms with 1 to 5 professionals)
  • Success planning (firms with 6-10 professionals)
  • Bringing in new clients (firms with 11-20 professionals)
  • Owner/partner accountability and unity (firms with 21 or more professionals) 

Yes, the challenges facing the accounting profession can be substantial. But with the proper playbook, it’s easy for any practitioner to not only get into the game – but win it as well.  

Join Doug Sleeter, Founder and President of the Sleeter Group, and Julie Carman, Sr. Director, Strategic Alliances for Bill.com, tomorrow at 2 pm ET as they break down the essential steps to position you for more profitability and productivity. The “Get in the Game” webinar will help attendees discover: 

  • What forces are currently shaping the business environment and driving change
  • The strategic imperatives that need to be addressed to ensure an effective performance in this time of rapid change
  • The influencing factors that are contributing to the evolution of the accounting profession

Attendees will also be the first accounting professionals to get the Strategic Imperatives Matrix - a performance checklist and tips document that will guide you through changing times.

 

Take the first step to becoming a changemaker by registering today.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 15:49

By Dan Lind, Vice President, Bank Solutions, Bill.com

Last week, the Bill.com Banking Platform was recognized by Business Intelligence Group (BIG), along with 16 other solutions, for innovations that “change the way we experience the world”.   Submissions came from around the world and across industries, with a fascinating range of innovations spanning revolutionary tea brewing technology to intelligent door handles.  

BIG Innovation AwardWhile we were thrilled to be recognized and to be in the company of such diverse innovators, the theme of revolutionary change was familiar and comfortable territory for Bill.com.   

Since our founding in 2006, our objective has been “to make B2B payments easy”.  Easier said than done when you look at how businesses make and receive payments today using traditional tools such as accounting software and online bill pay.  As any business owner or CFO will attest, making the payment is only a small part of the overall process.  The paper-intense, manual process that occurs before and after the payment is made or received is where endless hours are lost, reams of paper are consumed, and cries of frustration can be heard.  

Our founder, René Lacerte experienced all these agonizing inefficiencies running his first business, PayCycle, which was sold to Intuit in 2009.  Soon after, he set on a mission to automate the entire cash flow management process end-to-end.  

Today, customers like John Stafford, CFO with Solis Partners, talk passionately about how his cash flow management was transformed by having all his data in one tool and forecasts that automatically update.  Similarly, Mac Frampton, Artist and CFO of Alkahest Artists and Attractions, gives Bill.com credit for reducing the cost of his bill payment by 66% and invoicing over 80%.  Clearly, Bill.com is changing how businesses experience the world.  

Through the Bill.com Banking Platform, all of Bill.com’s functionality becomes available to businesses via their banking relationship, delivered through an integrated online banking platform.  The banking industry is a tough environment for innovation to grow and thrive.  Regulations are pouring out of Washington at near record levels, and competition for virtually every part of their business is coming from all directions.  

Amidst this challenging environment, Bill.com is the only solution that completely shifts the focus of small business payment processes from tools outside the bank to online banking as the center-point. By automating the end-to-end payables, receivables, and cash flow processes our solution solves real, long-standing challenges for businesses and presents banks with a huge opportunity for top-line revenue growth and increased customer engagement and satisfaction.  

Through the Bill.com Banking Platform, banks have the opportunity to be in the company of top innovators across the globe and change the way their customers experience the world.  

 

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Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 15:40

Has Your Business Optimized its Fraud Prevention Strategy?

By Geraldine Cruz, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Bill.com

Data breaches that expose consumer personal and banking information generate abundant press coverage. In contrast, the prevalence of fraudulent attacks on business bank account information is little known outside of accounting, finance, and risk management circles and their respective trade publications. Yet fraud rings targeting businesses are daring and sophisticated.

According to the Association for Financial Professionals’ 2013 Payment Fraud and Control Survey of 625 payment professionals, 61% of the represented organizations were victims of attempted or actual payment fraud in the previous year. Of the affected organizations, 87% were targets of check fraud, 27% of electronic check (ACH) debit fraud, and 8% of ACH credit fraud. 

Unlike consumers, businesses are not protected by legislation that limits financial liability from successful fraud attempts. As a result, they must rely on business banking services, such as positive pay, ACH filters, and reconciliation services, to protect their accounts from unauthorized transactions. But these protections must be purchased at an incremental cost, usually in the form of a monthly fee plus a per-transaction fee. 

And yet, these protections are designed to protect businesses from fraudulent uses of their account information, which is inevitably exposed to internal employees and to external companies that receive their checks or with whom they exchange ACH payment information. These protections do not hide or mask their bank information. 

What if, instead, businesses never exposed their bank accounts to anyone but select individuals or a company delegated to moving their funds? That is the foundation of Bill.com’s method of protecting its customers: keeping our customers’ bank information confidential from their customers, vendors/suppliers, and unauthorized internal employees. 

How Does Bill.com Uniquely Protect its Customers? 

  • When Bill.com customers authorize payment with paper checks:
    • We print the checks on our own bank account and sign them with our own signatories. Consequently, the recipients of those checks never see our customers’ bank account information or their executives’ signatures
    • Bill.com mails our customers’ checks, so they do not need to implement protocols for managing blank check stock or signed checks in-house 
  • When Bill.com customers set up electronic payments to pay vendors or suppliers, they only share their bank information with Bill.com
    • Payment is made only after authorized users approve the ACH transaction 
    • All of the approvals are captured in an audit trail, which can be later accessed and reviewed if questions arise 
  • When Bill.com customers receive electronic payments, their own customers pay via a payment portal. Those two parties never need to exchange bank account information with each other
  • For added protection, Bill.com customers can set up their bank accounts to block all ACH transactions initiated by anyone or any business other than Bill.com

The only time our customers must reveal their bank account information is when they set up their Bill.com accounts. After that, Bill.com will complete the payment operations to debit and credit transacting parties’ accounts. 

In addition to keeping our customers’ bank accounts confidential, Bill.com features the following fraud protection measures:

  • Data encryption: We use extended validation (EV) SSL encryption technology to protect against unauthorized access to customer accounts
  • Multi-factor authentication: We monitor account usage and when we identify high-risk activities, such as changes in user administration or bank accounts, we require a user to authenticate his or her identity
  • Disaster recovery: We operate continuous, offsite back-up servers so that Bill.com recovers quickly from any disaster

Benefits of Bill.com Full-Service Payment Operations for Protecting Business Bank Accounts

With the combination of Bill.com’s full-service payment operations and our method of fraud protection, your business no longer needs to: 

  • Invest in high-security, magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) check stock and toner in-house
  • Develop sophisticated fraud protection protocols for ordering, storing, and protecting check stock and signature equipment in-house 
  • Protect against the proliferation of check signatories’ signatures on paper checks
  • Develop a protocol for managing and destroying voided or returned checks since Bill.com manages them for you
  • Review and reconcile positive pay exceptions
  • Share bank information when setting up electronic payments with anyone or any business
  • Review and revise ACH blocks and authorizations
  • Invest in additional business banking services, such as positive pay, retrieval of check images, and reconciliation services. These services are all included in your Bill.com subscription — at no additional charge

Your Assignment for this Week

Analysts predict that fraudulent attempts to target business bank accounts will increase in number and sophistication. As you examine your and your bank’s fraud protection protocols, consider the significant protections afforded by Bill.com. 

Evaluate Bill.com by conducting a trial. We encourage you to investigate how our full-service payment capabilities and fraud protection can positively impact your business.

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Monday, January 6, 2014 - 17:45

By Kathleen Long, Vice President, Customers, Bill.com

Most resolutions are in the garbage can by February.  But this doesn’t have to be the case.  Here are some thoughts I shared with my team this year, which I’ve used to successfully lose more than 50 pounds in the last 8 months.

The most successful people realize that success requires repetition and that repetition is boring.  We often think of goals as something you reach, then you don't have to work on them anymore. "Just 5 more pounds to lose!" But actually, being in shape requires a daily, lifelong commitment and it means that some days working out or eating the right things is going to be boring. Ditto for work goals. Becoming okay with this tedium as a tradeoff for success is key.

How to make resolutions stick!Goals are easier when they're measurable.   So instead of saying you're going to be a better spouse this year, for instance, decide on that as a theme, then thoughtfully choose actions and frequencies to do them on that fulfill this result.

Goal achievement requires consistent effort, but it doesn't require perfection. Failures are learning opportunities. Resolve to fail fast, learn and then change plans to reflect that learning.

Be curious and self-aware. When you find yourself moving away from goals or engaging in contrary behaviors, consider why.  Talk to someone who excels at what you're trying to achieve. Consider different points of view. Tweak your plans and objectives based on this new input.

Write it down.  Keep it where you can see it. Evaluate your progress.   Keep specifics outlined for daily or weekly increments to keep you on track.  Failure to plan often equals failure.

Take stock of your commitment level and how important your goals are. If your goal is really important,  your time and money investment should reflect that level of importance to you.  Don't expect results if you're not willing to change where you spend your time and resources.

I hope these thoughts help you to have the best, happiest,  healthiest and most prosperous year yet.  Do you have ideas to share about how you'll reach your goals? What are you doing to make sure you have time for the things that really matter this year?  Share with others, as a commitment to making yourself and those around you have the best, most successful and prosperous year yet!

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Monday, December 30, 2013 - 10:21

By Natasha Dolginsky, Sr. Marketing Manager, Bill.com

Today the business Anelya founded helps other entrepreneurs grow successful enterprises. She and her staff of six provide outsourced Accounting and HR services for more than 80 angel- and VC-funded startups with collective funding of over $150 million, setting up systems and processes to help them scale faster.

How can so few do so much for so many? “We use all cloud-based services,” she told us. “Expense reporting, file sharing, document signing, payroll, payables processing, accounts receivable, cash planning – everything.”

By eliminating time-consuming, paper-based processes, the cloud speeds workflow and minimizes costs. And with secure access from anywhere to documents and data, Anelya and her team are never out of touch.

“I can be in San Francisco or New York or London and it’s all the same for our clients. Plus, the clients never have to wait for a specific staff member to be available, because with everything online we can all fill in for each other.Anelya Grant Accounting

Are you as much in awe as we are of people like Anelya Grant, who have the ambition, smarts and guts it takes to do whatever they must in order to make their American Dreams come true?

“My life purpose is to help people grow and find their happiness. This is why I love working with entrepreneurs, passionate people dreaming about making changes in people’s lives.” she told us. “I feel like I’m part of a movement of like-minded people."

“My father founded a university in Kazakhstan. I saw him struggle for years, with the government bureaucracy making everything so difficult, and I knew I could never accomplish what I wanted to do there.”

“Yes,” we said, “but what made you so sure you could do it here, in a strange country thousands of miles from everything you knew?”

“Movies,” she said, and laughed.

# # #

Check out how the cloud can help you automate your businesses manual processes-- Take a personal tour of Bill.com today. 

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Monday, December 30, 2013 - 10:00

By Ellen Gomes, Manager- Social Media, Bill.com

You can give up checks and paper without giving up control. In fact, a new generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders has discovered that they have actually gained more control.

 “We’ve literally gotten rid of boxes of paperwork which we store online now, so I can access anything I need from anywhere I need to be.
– Joshua Caulfield, CEO, American Institute of Architecture Students

“With everything visible online, I can now do better cash forecasting and pay bills in a more timely fashion. Now we can see weeks in advance what’s in the pipeline and how it will impact cash flow.”
– Jessica Renzi, Accounting Senior Manager, National PTA

“I wish we’d done this a lot sooner. I’d never go back.”
– Andy Cohen, CEO, Caring.com

 “Doing everything electronically lets our founder delegate financial responsibilities without relinquishing control. Plus, we don’t have to go to our mailbox and check for checks every day to see if a someone has paid us.” – Susan Fennema, Dean of Success, Mighty Data

“Bill.com showed up at exactly the right time in the life of our business. By automating so many tedious, manual processes, it enables us and our clients to concentrate on our goals.”
– Chris Fenster, CEO, Propeller Industries

“No shuffling paperwork or making copies, no printing out emails, no filing, no filing cabinets. But what stands out the most for me is the time savings.”
– Patti Randall, CEO. CourseSmart

Join these forward-thinking business leaders and thousands more like them, who use game-changing technology to eliminate paper and increase control over their payables, receivables, and cash flow. 

And getting started is much easier than it sounds at Bill.com, because it works with your accounting software, set-up takes less than 60 minutes on average, and expert, friendly help by phone is now free. No credit card required.

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Friday, December 27, 2013 - 11:42

By Neelam Saboo, Product Manager, Bill.com Platform

As the deadlines for this year’s tax season approach fast, Bill.com has partnered with TechAtlantis to eliminate the pain points of e-filing 1099-MISC forms. Tax1099.com, an application created by TechAtlantis, provides an automated, paperless, and painless way to e-file 1099s.

The integrated solution imports relevant 1099 data from your Bill.com account. Tax1099 creates an initial file of vendor and payment data for you to review and edit before it creates the 1099-MISC forms for each recipient. Once the forms are created, you review and approve them to be sent to recipients and e-filed with the IRS and state tax agencies. After the IRS receives the 1099s, you will receive a confirmation email verifying that the process is complete.

In addition to Tax1099’s automated e-filing capabilities, the company also offers tax identification number (TIN) matching to reduce the incidence of receiving B Notices from the IRS. But if you do receive B Notices, the solution also provides services to resolve them.

Tax1099.com Example

Unlike other competitive products, the integration eliminates the need for any manual data entry. Data flows from your Bill.com account to the Tax1099 application.

The solution:

  • Eliminates manual data entry and reduces potential errors
  • Eliminates clerical work of printing and mailing 1099 forms
  • Enables you to be completely paperless

For more details on the integrated product, read the Solution Overview. To get started with getting your 1099 processing, go to the Bill.com App Center, under the gear icon in the Bill.com Application.  

 

To see a walk-through of the Bill.com and Tax1099.com integration, watch the video below: 

 

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Friday, December 27, 2013 - 10:33

By René Lacerte, Founder & CEO, BIll.com

2013 was an incredible year for Bill.com. We signed two of the nation’s top five banks. We raised $38 million in funding from Scale Venture Partners, Bank of America, American Express, Fifth Third Bank and Pete Kight, founder of CheckFree. We doubled our revenue while growing our network to more than 275,000 users. We grew our employee team to more than 100. The “No Check CEO” concept has become a reality as more and more companies go paperless. And our 20-plus awards show that people know we are doing something innovative and important.

Can we top this in 2014? I believe we can. We have a lot of product innovation up our sleeves. We have new markets to tap. And we have a great deal of growth ahead of us as a company. To give you a preview, here are our top three goals for 2014:

  • We will roll out our two new bank customers in a way that will revolutionize how banks service SMBs. These successful implementations will help us reach our goal of building partnerships with more banks and other channel partners.
  • We will enhance our network to better serve existing customers and expand to new audiences. We anticipate these changes will help us surpass the 500,000 members mark in 2014.
  • We will continue to make Bill.com a great place to work. We’re currently putting the finishing touches on our new offices. These state-of-the-art facilities will be designed around collaboration, just like our product. We will also be building the human systems needed to guide our company as we grow into this next exciting phase.

On a personal note, 2013 was a year where a focus on physical fitness had a profound impact on both my work and personal life. My emphasis on exercise led to a happier, healthier and more creative me. Other Bill.com team members had similar experiences this year. People’s stories of weight lost and happiness gained have been inspiring. We will continue to promote employee health in our new office via healthy food options and group exercise for all who want it. I feel passionately about the tie between a healthy body, mind and spirit. I’ve made the following video if you'd like to hear more about why exercise is so important to me.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy 2014. Thank you to our customers for making us the success we are today. And to those of you readers who are not yet part of the Bill.com family-- I hope your resolution will be to join us this year!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 10:47

By Ellen Gomes, Manager-Social Media, Bill.com

Earlier this month, approximately two million online accounts were compromised at the some of the biggest players out there including, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may have not even noticed this story because nowadays this type of occurrence is everyday news. But there is something pretty shocking about this case, in my mind. It is the password details of the stolen data. These passwords flew in the face of every password best practice. They were as obvious as “12345” or the word “password.”

SpiderLabs (which broke the news of the breach) posted this Top 10 Passwords List after the fact, featuring the most common passwords.

SpiderLabs research- Common Passwords with Frequency

There is clearly a major problem here. While companies are responsible for ensuring the security of their data, there are some basic precautions that fall on the end user. And the biggest precaution is as basic, but vital, as password creation and maintenance. 

At Bill.com, we have put together a checklist of how you can help keep your account secure, which you can find here.  

When available, turn on multi factor authentication.  Bill.com offers this added security feature, which is imperative for any financial site. 

To supplement these best practices, here are some Bill.com recommended password management guidelines.

Here is how to create your passwords: 

  • Pick a base password that’s at least 8 characters long. Use uppercase, lowercase and one number. Add punctuation if the site will allow it. Note: Bill.com encourages passwords at least 10 characters or more and allows punctuation.
  • Make sure the password means something to you but does not contain personal information. Example: 2McitK  which comes from the phrase Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen. 
  • For each website that you need a password for, you can use  2+ characters from the domain name. So adding to the example above, for Bill.com it could be: 2McitKBL, with the BL representing Bill.com. 

Here are some additional password management tips:

  • Have a different password for each website.
  • Have a different base password for different things, for example: Personal, Business, Financial so if your password is cracked you have limited it to one section. 
  • Don’t EVER type your password into someone else’s computer, even if it’s an SSL website. They could knowingly or unknowingly have a keylogger installed. 
  • Don’t share your passwords, even with loved ones. 
  • Try to avoid using public Internet access. If you do, be very careful that you only type your password into sites that use SSL, and if you get any SSL warnings, immediately disconnect and stop using the connection,  as this means someone could be sniffing your passwords or otherwise trying to cause harm. 

While none of these precautions can stop data theft, they can definitely slow them down and make it easier for you to manage a password theft should it happen. If you have other tips, please be sure to share them with us so we can add them to our arsenal.

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