New York City – As the treasurer of his co-op board, Andy Ashwal goes through a regular ritual with his managing agent: “She either e-mails me a stack of invoices that I have to print out and then review and sign, or she leaves me a package at the desk and I have to look through it and sign it. And if I have questions, I put a little sticky Post-it note on it and send it back to her. Then she e-mails me or calls me with the answers to the questions.”
How quaint. How 20th century.
Things are different, however, when Ashwal himself is in the driver’s seat, as executive director at KW Property Management and Consulting. At KW, things are becoming more streamlined: The firm is gung-ho on a new system it is introducing in a handful of its buildings called NexusPayables. More George Jetson than Fred Flintstone, the set-up offers a number of advantages, according to Ashwal.
To begin with, invoices are scanned into the accounts payable system, and managers get the invoices as well as a general ledger code. They can see the invoice on the right-hand side of the screen and the numbers on the left-hand side, easily comparing how much is spent against the budget line item. They can make notes in the section, to approve or reject it. “It’s much better because it’s easier to review,” he notes.
At KW, after the manager reviews the scanned material in NexusPayables, the invoice goes to the co-op or condo board treasurer for approval or rejection, and then to accounts payable, where compliance is double-checked. Press a button and checks are printed.
“We are now capturing the treasurer’s electronic signature,” says Ashwal. “If a vendor or treasurer calls, I can go into the system and see that an invoice was rejected for a particular reason — say, they didn’t complete the work. There is a lot more transparency to the process now, which has often been very closed
No Wonder About Vendors
There are other advantages. If a vendor is not recognized, that could alert the manager that the firm is not in the system. “This could mean that the company hasn’t completed a W-9 or doesn’t have insurance,” Ashwal observes. “You don’t want contractors without insurance, and you need a W-9 for the accountants who will do an audit.”
A big advantage of the new system, says Ashwal, is that “board members and treasurers will have more visibility in the accounts payable process. They will have more oversight on who is being paid, what the payables are versus what the budget is — they will be more involved in the process of managing their property. This should be a collaborative process. It’s saving time. It also helps when budgeting because you can see what you have been paying.”
KW, whose Florida-based parent company has been testing the system since January, introduced NexusPayables to its New York co-op boards and condo associations in July. “We sent an introductory letter explaining what we are doing. We have a board of directors’ manual with instructions. Accounts payable will be doing webinars to train board members. We are making the investment of time because if board members don’t know how to use the system, it is a waste of money,” says Ashwal.
“We are using New York as our test market for it because we feel New Yorkers are more technologically savvy,” he adds, noting: “It’s incumbent on property managers to bring property management into the 21st century.”
*This article was originally posted to HABITAT. See post here.