Accounting departments utilize a variety of acronyms to identify responsibilities, departments or government agencies. While some acronyms are industry-specific, others exist universally. A/P represents the "accounts payable" department in most companies.
Accounts payable departments vary in size from one person to many people at several different supervisory levels. Accounts payable clerks enter data from invoices to the accounting system and match invoices to backup documentation. Accounts payable supervisors oversee the work of accounts payable clerks and respond to inquiries from other departments regarding invoice payments or vendor balances. Accounts payable managers lead the department by planning individual roles within the department, budgeting department costs and collaborating with other company managers in decision making.
The accounts payable department maintains responsibility for paying invoices on time. Many vendors offer discounts for paying invoices within a specific time frame. The accounts payable department monitors the due dates along with the discount dates to ensure the company largest discounts available. The accounts payable department must verify that each invoice is accurate prior to payment. The accounts payable department coordinates check printing with management’s signature on the check. Checks and invoices must also be kept locked up.
Because of the amount of money changing hands through the accounts payable department, internal control must be a priority. Basic safeguarding of the checks is achieved through locking up blank checks and limiting access to the key. Invoice verification determines whether each invoice is accurate and valid. Duties are split between different team members to ensure that no single team member can access the entire system without another person’s review.
Printing checks is often a manual process, requiring human labor for tedious tasks, such as stuffing envelopes. Process improvement reduces the need for employees working on non-value-added work and allows employees to focus on analytical work. Improvements include the use of electronic payments and electronic approval systems.