A story about my blindness to automation

We all know QuickBooks Online is feature-rich and that Intuit is constantly improving it, or in some instances, just making changes!

Even though we have QuickBooks Online Advanced Certifications at Peak Advisers, we, like most other users, miss some of the changes.

Or just as importantly we miss the implication or complete meaning of these changes.

However, I am going to open this series on automation with a story not necessarily about automation, but about being blinkered … about not stopping to ask, “Now what does that mean and how could I use it better?”

Background

In my prior life as CFO I was responsible for credit decisions by my staff and by me personally that resulted in granting around $2.1 billion in trade credit to customers. 

This was mostly unsecured credit.

Because of this I developed a habit of viewing customers from an “accounts receivable” perspective in these four classifications:

  1. Good payers
  2. Slow payers
  3. Always have to follow up payers
  4. Risky payers

Seriously, I could meet a customer at a trade show and one of the first things that would pop into my mind was what kind of payer the customer was. I learned over the years to constantly check AR and collections. Just as every other small business operator does.

What happened

Fortunately, Peak Advisers doesn’t have anything but good payers so recently looking at our AR aging I was surprised to see a number of customers had skipped invoices and not paid invoices from 45-60 days ago.

Just like I had done for years, I ran a current detailed aging and started clicking past due and reviewing. 

Was something off?  Had payments been misapplied? Had a credit card not processed? Had they viewed the invoice?

(You email all your invoices, right? And you know how to monitor if the client received and viewed it right?) 

 Invoice status

Invoice status

While checking I noticed one had not been sent … then another. I thought, "THEY HAVEN'T PAID BECAUSE I DIDN’T SEND THE INVOICE!"

So, I started checking invoices. (Now those of you that know where I am going feel free to giggle.)

The light bulb turns on

Fortunately, after a couple of minutes I stopped and thought, “There has to be a better way.” Here I am in 2018 continuing a behavior that I have had for more than two decades … a behavior that had been very successful for me … a behavior that is in 2018 completely outdated. “How should I be doing this?” I asked.

Then it hit me. I should go to the dashboard, click through the “invoice panel” and then sort the list by “status.” Doing so would enable me to quickly identify any invoices that had not been sent.

 Invoice status

Invoice status

I found them all in 15 seconds, selected them and sent them off to customers with a note of apology for being late. 

Is this automation? Yes, it is. QuickBooks Online contained a process that facilitated breaking a habit of 20+ years and greatly reduced the human input (my time) required to find and fix a problem. This page is now my go to for collections. Sure I will look at an aging, but no longer will that be my first step and I will be more effective for it.