HABITAT

LEGAL/FINANCIAL

Bookkeeping Goes High Tech

Lisa Prevost in Legal/Financial on October 16, 2017

Kips Bay, Manhattan

Hi-Tech Bookkeeping I
Oct. 16, 2017

As the onsite senior property manager for the Kips Bay Towers Condominium, Maja Cobaj of FirstService Residential oversees a 1,118-unit, two-building complex so large it has four addresses. For Cobaj, workplace efficiency is a necessity. 

So, although her office at the complex officially opens at 8:30 A.M., Cobaj starts her workday half an hour earlier. That’s when she looks at her daily email alert from the condo’s automated invoice management software, which tells her how many vendor invoices are pending for payment. 

Cobaj uses the half-hour to log into the program, review the invoices, and go over them with her resident manager. Then, she simply clicks to approve each invoice, automatically sending it to the email box of the signatory above her. Once approved, each invoice will turn up at accounting for the electronic processing of payment. 

FirstService is among the growing number of property management companies that are adopting software that speeds the purchase order, invoicing, and payment processes, improving efficiency and providing clients with greater transparency.

The chief advantage of managing invoices electronically, Cobaj says, is it turns a stack of time-consuming paper invoices into a more manageable daily process. “I don’t have a stack of 50 paper invoices to approve all at once,” she says. “And it eliminates issues with stuff getting lost, trying to get them reviewed and signed, a signature missed.” 

AvidXchange is one of the more popular software packages. This application works on tablets, smartphones, and laptops, and it offers different service modules. Avid differs from competitors like Yardi, a major property management software provider, because its invoice-management software includes the option of a payment processing system that pays vendors electronically, says Michael Catanzaro, the chief financial officer for Century Management Services.

“We had some issues that we were dealing with, like the timely processing of payments, and being able to track those payments,” Catanzaro says. “I had worked on Avid before I came to Century, and I knew it was the solution.” 

Avid is linked with a base of more than 350,000 vendors, according to Kristen Thomasino, the company’s vice president for real estate and nonprofit solutions. Property managers can place a purchase order by simply logging onto the system and creating the order with the appropriate supplier. If further approval of the order is required, the system forwards it to the next signatory, as designated by the client.

Once the order has been processed and filled, the supplier can submit an electronic invoice for payment through Avid. (Suppliers do not pay for access to the system, Thomasino says.) The property manager then gets an email notification that an invoice is awaiting approval. Payment is issued only after the manager designates that invoice for payment. 

“All the approvals and coding are done electronically,” says Jonathan Land, a senior regional account executive for Avid. “And invoices are automatically married up to the budget – there’s no more manual entry to their accounting system.” 

Translation: no more stacks of paper invoices. The world's forests will be eternally grateful.

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