Mary S. Schaeffer
books, newsletters, articles etc.

Selected as the text for The Accounts Payable Certification Programs

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Please visit my blog at http:/​/​ap-now.com/​blog/​ and sign up for my free e-zine by sending me an email at marys@​ap-now.com

"A real-world approach, with great insights and practical wisdom on all aspects of the accounts payable process. Essentials of Accounts Payable provides accounts payable professionals with a framework for action in a rapidly changing environment." –Tom Nichols, Division Manager, Accounts Payable Operations, AT&T

"Mary Schaeffer has combined her considerable knowledge of the accounts payable process with the learning and benchmark statistics from top companies to produce a world-class guide to the AP process. Without Mary Schaeffer, and IOMA, AP would still be a neglected financial process without any formal reading to explain the complexities of a process that most companies think is simply paying the bills. This book is a must-read for anyone working in, directing, or managing AP operations, both seasoned professionals and those new to the process." –Linda Sawyer Sisko, Programs Manager, Cisco Systems, Inc.

"This book does an excellent job of explaining the often complicated basics of the accounts payable functions. It provides a quick snapshot for busy executives who need to know how an accounts payable department should run. It is an excellent update for those executives who need to keep up to date on numerous issues that affect this rapidly evolving profession." –Adrienne Glasgow, Chief Financial Officer, American Red Cross in Greater New York

An excellent introduction to the world of Accounts Payable (AP) with loads of specifics on best practices and helpful hints on how to best get the job done. Chock full of information on how the AP function operates today with a vision for the future of those operations. Although written as a primer for someone new to the AP world, even the most seasoned AP professional will find new and important insights about the AP function. - Sandy Campos Vice President of Corporate Services Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

What Readers Said About This Book on Amazon.com
Manager, April 10, 2002

Reviewer: A reader from New York
A remarkable book in getting anyone up to speed in the world of Accounts Payable. I found this book extremely, It gives valuable insights to both the begineer and the seasoned pro of AP

Essentials of Accounts Payable

Think Accounts Payable Is No Big Deal??? Read on!


Accounts Payable is really a lot more than just paying bills. If I had a dollar for every person that has said to me "What's the big deal about accounts payable - you get a bill and you pay it?" I'd have a nice bank account. If I had all the money lost by companies who follow the ‘a-bill-is-just-a-bill’ philosophy, you might find my name on the list of wealthiest Americans. Now you may think that I'm exaggerating, but let me explain what can (and does) go wrong and then see if you agree with me.

You get a bill and you pay it - right? Companies that follow this philosophy routinely double and triple pay ordinary invoices. Now, you say, not an ideal situation but the vendor will eventually return the extra payment - right??? Maybe. Most companies use lockboxes and unidentified cash gets posted to a suspense account and researched when someone has free time, which is often never. Eventually, the money gets written off and taken into miscellaneous income.

The problem is so bad that firms that do nothing but search for duplicate payments on a contingency basis now exist and their number is growing. At last count, there were about 30 in the U.S. alone. While many of the items found by these firms are for small dollar amounts they routinely find duplicate payments that exceed $1,000,000. What’s even more staggering about this issue is the number of companies that rely on the “memory of the accounts payable clerk” to avoid such disasters.

Even those who manage to avoid the worst of the duplicate payment issues, still run into problems by just ‘paying the bills’ as they arrive. Is the pricing right on the invoices? Most accounts payable associates don’t know because many purchasing departments neglect to fill out purchase orders completely. Still worse, many purchasing departments negotiate wonderful price concessions and then fail to notify accounts payable. When the invoice arrives at the old price, what do you think happens?

Then there is the little issue of fraud and scams. A number of crooks make a living by invoicing companies for goods or services that were never ordered. Usually, but not always, these are low dollar invoices that few pay much attention to. So, if you just get the bill and pay it, you may be paying inflated prices for toner, office supplies, newspaper adds (not authorized), etc. And once you pay one such erroneous bill, you can bet you will be included in future fraudulent initiatives.

Often when goods are ordered from another state, sales tax is not included on the invoice. That does not mean sales tax is not owed. Alternatively, tax is charged when it shouldn't be. Ignoring the sales and use tax considerations can land a company in hot water with state sales and use tax authorities – not just once but from every state that charges some sort of sales and/​or use tax – and you got it, the laws are all different.

Along the same lines, uncashed checks are supposed to be turned over to the state under certain circumstances – not written off to miscellaneous income or reversed as some auditors suggest. Ignore these rules at your own peril as state auditors are becoming increasingly aggressive in their pursuit of revenue. Both unclaimed property, sometimes referred to as escheat, and sales and use tax are areas that politicians love. They can audit companies and increase state coffers without raising the ire of voters. States share information and sometimes hire outside auditors. These audits can be time consuming and penalties are often assessed against companies found to be breaking the law. In theory, a company could have a visit from 50 unclaimed property auditors and almost the same number of sales and use tax auditors (a few states, mercifully, don’t charge sales or use tax).

There is also the issue of check fraud – a growing business in the U.S. Companies that believe their banks will eat whatever losses accrue to them due to check fraud are in for a rude awakening. While banks routinely covered these losses in the past, they no longer can afford to do so – and in many instances the law is on their side. Changes in the UCC now assess responsibility based on the exercise of reasonable and ordinary care. How check stock is maintained and what fraud prevention features are included in the check stock are key to determining liability for losses due to check fraud.

Companies everywhere looking to reduce costs are initiating all sorts of electronic initiatives to help in that regard. Accounts payable functions can be included in many of those initiatives - and sometimes key vendors will insist that accounts payable join the electronic revolution or the vendor will take its business elsewhere.

These are just a few of the relevant issues. This piece is intended as a wake-up call to those executives who don’t understand why they should devote adequate resources to their accounts payable function. Yes, I want to sell books. But, I’ll share another little secret with you. You don’t have to buy my books or newsletter. Much of what you need to know can be found on the Internet if you are willing to spend the necessary time. Don’t expect to uncover it all in one afternoon. Of course, you could always just buy this book …


Full of valuable tips, techniques, illustrative real-world examples, exhibits, and best practices, this handy and concise paperback will help you stay up to date on the newest thinking, strategies, developments, and technologies in accounts payable.

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Mary Schaeffer's Books
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The way organizations of all sizes are paying their bills is changing, and changing rapidly. New technologies and approaches are making paper checks obsolete. This ground breaking book takes a look at how anyone can create a cost efficient controlled payment process for their organization. ________________
An in-depth look at practices every organization should be using to keep T&E expenses under control and prevent T&E fraud - while running an efficient operation. ________________
The book that answers the perennial question that regularly pops into the minds of Controllers and CFOs: Why’s my accounts payable manager doing that?
An extensive review of internal controls in the accounts payable funciton
Identifies both best and worst pracices used in Corporate America today. ________________
written with Keefe Bruyette & Woods Chairman, John Duffy with contributions from KBW employees ________________
a primer for those looking for information about business credit and collection issues ________________
A primer for those just starting out as well as those who manage the department. HINT: Accounts payable is alot more than just paying bills ________________
A comprehensive handbook for those managing the accounts payable function or "the Bible" as one business executive calls it ________________
In addition to the books shown here, Ms. Schaeffer has written books about Business Credit, Real Estate and Derivatives. ________________