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December 17,


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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Accounts Payable enhances customer service

by Douglas Wylie


The University's Accounts Payable (A/P) Department is the central administrative financial area responsible for processing and distributing all non-payroll checks. The department processes over 600,000 transactions per year, and the volume is increasing. In an effort to continually improve University business practices and responsive service to students, faculty, and staff, the Finance Department has charged a redesign team to examine Accounts Payable processes.

The team, facilitated by the Office of Human Resources, is comprised of accounts payable staff and select customers who represent high-volume users of A/P services. As a result of the team's work, the Accounts Payable Department is proud to announce its new mission and vision statements that focus on improving service to you and to our vendors.

These statements read in part: "The Accounts Payable Department provides service excellence to create an efficient, cost-effective payment system that is committed to continuous process improvement . . . and customer-focused assistance where all University employees are considered partners in managing financial services."

While many of the recommended changes to date have involved streamlining internal A/P workflow, many other changes have been incorporated into the overall redesign of A/P services. For example, a new telephone triage system will be placed into service early in 2002 to expedite customer and vendor access to accounts payable representatives. Additionally, the department has been reorganized into customer service teams, with each team member cross-trained in all reimbursement practices and policies.

The new phone system and team concept will allow individual vendors and departments to be serviced by any A/P representative, resulting in improved processing consistency, standards, and timeliness of services. Some of the services also currently under review include "rush" checks, check pick-up practices, request for payment forms, and travel and conference forms. All of these initiatives are focused on improving customer service and process efficiencies. There will be Q&A sessions/training for the University community once changes are finalized.

Over the next several months, I will keep you informed of the A/P changes recommended by the team; the accounts payable Web site at will be continually updated to reflect changes as they are implemented. We ask for your patience as we pilot, monitor, and adjust our payment processing systems through better business practices and policies for our University. It is vitally important to us that we continue to support the partnerships forged in shared fiscal responsibility with you, our customers.

Douglas Wylie is University Controller.

This column is one of an occasional series on administrative issues at the University.

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