Paying bills – a training issue for HR?
The staff at HRINZ are really busy at the moment processing the zillions of annual membership fees payments that are coming through after the invoices went out on 1 April. It’s actually a great problem to have when times are tough and most organisations are struggling to be paid, and normally I’d just keep my mouth shut and be eternally grateful that members are paying so quickly, but we have a wee problem. Well actually it’s quite a sizeable one.
As you know we have quite a lot of new staff at HRINZ and they’re a great bunch – all very dedicated and excited to be getting on top of their new roles – but some of them are spending a huge amount of time phoning and emailing accounts departments of members’ organisations to get reference numbers for the payments we’re receiving because for some reason this vital information is being left off remittance advices. With 4,000 members paying their annual fees along with a very large percentage of them also attending SIGs and other events on a regular basis, our accounts function is pretty big, especially at this time of the year.
HRINZ has individual membership but often there are multiple members working in an organisation where the employer is paying for the members to belong and/or attend HRINZ events. We frequently receive payments from these organisations which cover many invoices but unless we’re told what invoices they relate to it is almost impossible for us to accurately reconcile the payments against the correct member’s ledger. This results in some members being chased for payments that they’ve authorised and thought were paid. If we can’t receipt the payments against the correct invoices the money paid gets put into a holding or suspense account until we can track down what it’s for.
HRINZ staff phone or email the accounts departments when remittance advices are missing but it’s amazing how hard it is to get a response from some of these people – very few return calls or respond to emails and in many situations when we do get hold of them and explain what is going on the problem continues in subsequent months as if the conversation never happened. This must be affecting the productivity of lots of organisations and wasting a lot of resources – it certainly has that affect on our tiny one.
We had a discussion about it in our team meeting this week and came to the conclusion that the problem probably sits with HR anyway (sorry guys) as clearly there is a training issue here.
Having been an accounts clerk in a much earlier life I know that it is possible to do it better than it’s currently being done by many, and if it is done properly life becomes a lot easier for both parties. The thing that concerns me is that what we are experiencing is probably also being experienced by lots of other organisations – we’re just the tip of the iceberg – so how much time do accounts staff really spend doing such menial, unproductive and unnecessary work across the country? Working on the old concept that prevention is better than cure, why isn’t this issue tackled at the other end when people are being trained into a new role? It’s not rocket science or is it? Have we created such complex and convoluted systems and processes that it’s just too hard to add a simple reference number to a payment remittance notice? Has online banking become a monster or simply made us lazy?
I know the staff at HRINZ would much rather be doing work that adds value to membership, so if there’s anything you can do to help sort this problem out for us at your end we’d be very grateful. Then we could all get on with the fun stuff.