Managing disbursements in the logistics industry can be an overwhelming task. With so many moving parts and players involved, it can be difficult to keep track of all the financial transactions. It’s no wonder that companies are turning to advanced technology solutions to help simplify the process.

One such solution is disbursement software.

In this post, we will explore the benefits of disbursement software, look into how it works, and discuss some of the important features to look for in a software solution. 

What is Disbursement Accounting Software?

Disbursement accounting software is a specialized tool designed to automate and manage the process of making payments related to shipping and logistics. This software helps businesses handle many types of disbursements, including port charges, cargo handling fees, and other related expenses.

By automating these processes, businesses can improve their cash flow, enhance compliance, and reduce the risk of financial errors. 

10 Benefits of Automating Disbursement Accounting With Disbursement Software

Like we mentioned above, disbursement accounting software can bring a variety of benefits to logistics-based businesses of all sizes. Here are the top 10 benefits you can expect when using this type of software:

1. Generate Disbursement Accounts

One of the primary benefits of disbursement software is its ability to generate accurate and timely disbursement accounts. This feature helps businesses keep track of all payments made and helps them know that all expenses are accounted for. 

Disbursement accounts provide a detailed breakdown of all the costs incurred during a shipping operation, from port charges to fuel costs, making it easier to monitor and manage expenses. By automating this process, businesses can reduce errors, save time, and maintain a clear and organized financial record.

2. Generate Reports on WIP and Accruals

Disbursement software allows businesses to generate comprehensive reports on work-in-progress (WIP) and accruals. These reports are important for understanding the financial health of ongoing projects. WIP reports help track the progress and costs of active shipments, making sure that all expenditures are accounted for in real time. 

Accrual reports, on the other hand, provide insights into expenses that have been incurred but not yet paid. This functionality helps businesses anticipate future cash outflows and manage their cash flow. By automating the generation of these reports, disbursement software makes the process easier and more efficient by reducing the manual effort involved and minimizing errors. With accurate WIP and accrual reports, businesses can make informed decisions, plan budgets, and allocate resources better.

Two vessel agents at a port in hard hats and reflective clothing

3. Single Source of Truth for All Disbursement Data

Having a single source of truth for all disbursement data is very important for maintaining accuracy and consistency. Disbursement software centralizes all financial data related to disbursements, making sure that every team member has access to the same information. 

This centralized repository includes all details of transactions, invoices, payments, WIP reports, accruals, and other financial records.

Centralization eliminates the risk of discrepancies caused by multiple data sources and reduces the chances of errors. By having a single repository for all disbursement data, businesses can improve data integrity and make sure that all financial records are up-to-date and accurate.

4. Improving Control and Visibility

Disbursement software improves control and visibility over financial transactions. It provides businesses with real-time insights into their cash flow, allowing them to track expenses, monitor disbursements, and ensure that all payments are made on time. 

Improved visibility helps identify any irregularities or discrepancies quickly, making sure that businesses can address issues before they escalate. This enhanced control over financial transactions means that all disbursements are properly authorized and compliant with company policies and reduces the risk of fraud and financial mismanagement.

5. Invoice Approval

Automating the invoice approval process is another significant benefit of disbursement software. This feature reduces the manual effort involved in approving invoices and makes it so that all payments are authorized correctly. Automated invoice approval workflows simplify the process by routing invoices to the appropriate personnel for review and approval. This reduces the time taken to process invoices and minimizes the risk of errors or delays.

6. Reducing Manual Effort

Manual disbursement processes are time-consuming and prone to errors. Business professor Raymond R. Panko published a paper in which he wrote that manually inputting a data entry into simple spreadsheets and documents had the probability of a human error between 18% and 40%.

By automating tasks such as data entry, report generation, and invoice processing, businesses can save time and resources. Automation also ensures that tasks are completed consistently and accurately, reducing the likelihood of human error. This not only improves efficiency but also allows employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities.

7. Reduces Back and Forth and Improves Collaboration  

Effective communication is key to efficient disbursement management. Disbursement software streamlines communication between internal teams and external clients, reducing the need for back-and-forth exchanges. 

Automated workflows and centralized data ensure that all stakeholders have access to the same information, facilitating smoother collaboration. This reduces the time and effort required to resolve queries, approve transactions, and share updates. Improved communication helps in faster decision-making, reduces delays, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

8. Provides Detailed Jobs to Track and Analyze Disbursements and Expenses

Disbursement software offers detailed job tracking and analysis features. These tools help businesses monitor disbursements and expenses, ensuring that all financial transactions are recorded accurately. Detailed job tracking allows businesses to assign costs to specific projects or shipments, providing a clear view of the expenses associated with each job. 

This level of detail helps in analyzing cost patterns, identifying areas for cost reduction, and optimizing resource allocation. By tracking and analyzing disbursements, businesses can improve their financial management and enhance overall profitability.

Ships at a port at sunset

9. Enhances Team Communication and Coordination

Effective team communication and coordination are essential for managing disbursements efficiently. Disbursement software provides various tools that make it easier for team members to work together. For instance, shared access to centralized data ensures that everyone is working with the same, up-to-date information, which reduces the risk of errors and misunderstandings.

The software’s project management features enable teams to assign tasks, set deadlines, and monitor progress in a unified workspace. This transparency helps team members understand their roles and how their work contributes to the overall process. Additionally, features like real-time updates and instant notifications keep everyone informed about changes or new developments, allowing for quick adjustments and continuous alignment.

Collaborative tools, such as integrated document sharing and annotation capabilities, allow team members to work together on financial reports, invoices, and other documents directly within the platform. Furthermore, automated workflows simplify the approval processes, so team members can move through steps without waiting for manual sign-offs.

10. Helps Manage Port Calls Effectively

Managing port calls can be a complex task. Disbursement software simplifies this process by automating the management of port calls and related expenses. It helps track port charges, monitor vessel schedules, and manage all associated costs. 

Automated port call management ensures that all expenses are accurately recorded and that payments are made on time. This reduces the administrative burden on the team and minimizes the risk of errors. By simplifying port call management, disbursement software helps businesses improve their operational efficiency and ensure smooth sailing for their vessels.

Why is Base the #1 Disbursement Accounting Software?

Base stands out by offering tailored automated solutions for the shipping and logistics industry that other disbursement software typically lack. Created by shipping and logistics professionals, Base is a comprehensive solution for all financial tracking needs.

While many competitors require extensive manual input, Base automates the generation of accurate disbursement accounts, reducing the time and effort spent on financial tracking. It excels in producing detailed WIP and accrual reports, providing critical financial insights.

Base features a single source of truth for all disbursement data, which promotes accuracy and consistency. With improved control and visibility, businesses can monitor cash flow and ensure timely payments. The automated invoice approval feature simplifies processes, reducing manual communication and enhancing operational efficiency.

Key Benefits of Base:

  • Automated generation of accurate disbursement accounts
  • Detailed WIP and accrual reports for financial insights
  • Single source of truth for all disbursement data
  • Improved control and visibility over financial transactions
  • Automated invoice approval feature
  • Reduced manual communication
  • Enhanced operational efficiency
  • Focus on critical tasks by reducing manual processes

By freeing vessel agents and clients from time-consuming manual processes, Base reduces errors and allows focus on critical tasks.

Final Thoughts on Disbursement Software

Vessel agent in front of shipping containers

As you can see, disbursement software can greatly benefit businesses by simplifying their financial tracking processes. It provides detailed reports, enhances accuracy, and improves control and visibility. With the automated features, it saves time and effort for both vessel agents and clients, allowing them to focus on more important tasks. By using disbursement software like Base, businesses can effectively manage their disbursements with ease and efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What does disbursement mean in shipping?

Disbursement in shipping refers to the payments made for various expenses such as port charges, fuel costs, and other related fees. These payments can be managed through controlled disbursements to improve a company’s cash flow and enhance compliance with financial regulations.

How do controlled disbursements improve business performance?

Controlled disbursements improve business performance by simplifying the payment process, and making sure that cash disbursements are made proficiently and accurately. This leads to better cash flow management and reduces the risk of errors, ultimately enhancing operational efficiency and financial stability.

What is the difference between PDA and FDA in shipping?

PDA (Proforma Disbursement Account) is an estimated account of expenses expected during a port call, while FDA (Final Disbursement Account) is the actual account of expenses incurred. Both types of disbursements play a crucial role in managing cash payments and maintaining accurate financial records.