The field in the topic is intended to be used as you first thought but I see no reason why you could not put any name in there. It will affect Reports but I'm sure you can live with that.
However, I have to ask how that helps you create outputs for an SME? You cannot generate a build including topics only for a named author. Build tags would enable that.
PDF Review is one solution as there you can pick specific topics, albeit you would not see whose topics are whose but again build tags can be used.
Aren't your topics for Accounts Payable, using your example, in one folder so you just generate those topics?
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
Yes, you're right about the Author field not helping me generate builds for that Author only. Hmmm. I guess I could create a condition for that if I really wanted to.
You asked: "Aren't your topics for Accounts Payable, using your example, in one folder so you just generate those topics?" That's complicated The answer is no, and no.
In the TOC, there are actually three folders that have Accounts Payables topics, but yes, they'd be easy to identify.
In the organization of the help file: I probably shouldn't admit this, but way back in 1995, my first RoboHelp project was a 700-topic project that I inherited from a senior writer who was being pulled off onto a new project. This person had organized the project so that all topics were at the top level; that is, there were no sub-folders.
The reasoning behind this was that this way you could see all the topics at once and didn't have to remember, for example, if "Creating Batches" was under the Accounts Payable folder or the General Topics folder or Getting Started.
I think RoboHelp must have changed so that you can now see all the topics at once regardless of where the folder is, but I didn't think to check that out when I started my current project two years ago -- though I will admit I'm thinking of it now, LOL! But, as I said, this project is almost complete, so it's too late to start making major structural changes.