Business: Accessible Space, Inc.
Location: United States
Invoices: 2,500+ per month
Managing hundreds of sites and bank accounts from one accessible platform increased efficiency.
Digitalized a manual and outdated AP process with an easy-to-use platform.
Accessible Space, Inc. (ASI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing both accessible and affordable assisted/supportive and independent living opportunities for very low-income physically disabled people and seniors.
Accessible Space, Inc. (ASI) began in 1978 as a master’s thesis between two students trying to solve the housing dilemma experienced by a disabled friend. They grew to now serve over 4,250 clients across 25 states for both housing and the medical needs: more developments and housing units than any other nonprofit organization. However, with approximately 500 employees (mostly in the 24-hour care area) and hundreds of properties, this same growth resulted in time-consuming and complicated manual-based accounting processes.
“It is a lot of properties.” stated Judy Lemke-Kline, ASI Director of Finance. “And because each individual one is a separate legal entity - which means a separate audit - we're required to do audits on over 100 different sites every year.” With over a hundred different bank accounts with separate checkbooks the sheer amount was overwhelming.
According to Lemke-Kline, further complicating the situation was that “all of our accounting staff are in this office but not all the approvers…and we had to get (to) them, and we were faxing, and it was a nightmare.” This meant that in addition to the entire process being manual often errors were discovered after payment was already completed.
A final pain point involved the organization’s existing software platform. Not only did any additional solution need to interface with the existing General Ledger system, but the existing system was also somewhat inflexible.
Fortunately, years ago Lemke-Kline had started hearing discussions about AP automation and had already included adoption as part of the organization’s 3-year strategic plan. Selecting the right vendor as a partner was a long process and included demonstrations, cost analysis, attribute comparisons, etc. Lemke-Kline stated, “we had to find the right thing that would work, and cost was a factor because we’re a nonprofit.”
“So now instead of a lot of mail, it’s a lot of emails, so it’s quicker getting them into the system” stated Lemke-Kline. “Before we had to wait for the approval, but now we just put them in the system, it goes to the approvers, and then we get it back within a few days, whereas before it may take like a week or two depending how slow they are to cut a check.”
The vendor that Lemke-Kline chose was Yooz. When asked what made Yooz stand out, Pamala Schmierer, Affiliate Accounts Payable for Accessible Space, stated that “money was a contributor of who we picked. And I just thought it was user friendly. The demonstration I got was wow, this makes sense. I think I could do this.”
This user-friendly aspect was important. Schmierer, stated “going from a paper heavy manual process to a completely automated process is obviously scary. It’s a dramatic shift.” Without truly understanding how the new system would work the employees were hesitant to adopt something new.
ASI decided to phase themselves into the new system over a six-month period, trying it out to get used to it and determine the best ways to do the approval. During this time ASI saw their pain points addressed by the new Yooz platform including:
The ability to scan information into the system even before it’s paid and the ability to look up information at any time proved to be the most liked automation feature of the Accessible Space staff. “I think that’s helped catch a lot of things” she stated, “There’s no question that it’s helping with accuracy”.
“There’s a lot of features so I don’t really think that we’re using 100% of it yet but we’re getting there and we’re eons away from where we were just a year ago already.”
ASI Director of Finance
ASI found benefit in AP automation, emphasizing the simplicity, savings, all-in-one capability, trust, and reliability resulting from it’s users.
When asked what piece of AP automation advice she would give to other organizations Lemke-Kline stated emphasized the importance of having a direct person to contact at Yooz with questions or concerns. After all, Accessible Space staff “really need someone to help right away because if we can’t enter invoices and pay things, that’s a problem.”
Furthermore Lemke-Kline stated the importance of being patient overall. Adaption takes time but the more that something gets used, the clearer it gets.
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