Breaking Through the Barriers to Accounts Payable Automation

Mon, Feb 06, 2017 @ 04:17 PM

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With the proliferation of automation in Manufacturing, Human Resources and Sales & Marketing, do you think your peers within your company would be surprised to learn that your Accounts Payable department still writes paper checks to suppliers and vendors?  Would your family and friends think that working where you do that accounts payable systems must certainly be automated? 

When talking to newly onboarded clients, they often admit the barriers that held them back from transitioning to accounts payable automation in the past. 

Do any of these barriers sound familiar?

Accounts Payable Automation

 

Barrier #1- Not enough time

When considering accounts payable automation, many believe they just don't have the time to make the move and they likely haven't qualified the time they spend issuing checks.  

Check processing from the financial reporting side to the actual printing and mailing, there are as many as ten steps that are required to issue checks.When issuing 500 checks on average, roughly three hours per person is dedicated to issuing checks at a typical company every week, and typically, a minimum of two personnel but more likely four staffers are involved in this process.

Payments can more easily be distributed electronically, with the same separation of duties; one enters, another approves and another releases and so on. Streamlining your payments to electronic payments changes the traditional payment process allowing employees to spend less time on the physical act of printing, folding and mailing -- all administrative tasks -- and more time on their actual financial roles in the company. The result may allow them to feel more productive and empowered. 

Barrier #2- Lack of IT resources 

Knowing how long it takes to get IT to address busines concerns, we have heard in the past that companies hold off accounts payable automation because they know their IT team can't get to it.  

There are accounts payable automation solutions that do not require your IT department to spend its man-hours on the implementation of your new platform.

Do your research and choose the solution that has a turn-key system setup that is pre-configured for you and that can work within the existing systems that you already know and use. Make sure your chosen payment automation provider will handle integrating to accounting systems at the file level (so all you will need to provide is a sample of your current payment file).

Barrier #3- Security concerns 

Somehow there is a perception that checks are safer than electronic payments.  

While we hear about the occasional bad actor having a company expedite a wire or transfer money to off-shore accounts, checks are actually targeted more often than other payment methods by those seeking to committing fraud attacks. ePayments are safer than printing and mailing a check with your bank account and routing number or worse keeping a supply of pre-printed check stock on hand.

There are ways to enable ePayments, onboard vendors AND maintain the highest security settings connecting your payments directly to the bank of your choosing and allowing you with the most integrated reporting to ensure visibility to all payment transactions.

Barrier #4- Cost to transition to ePayments 

Upgrading to a new Accounting System or ERP that can manage ePayments costs a fortune and takes a tremendous amount of time.  

Such an upgrade is not needed and, in fact, any expense associated with a migration to ePayments can pay for itself very, very quickly.  

How?

Eliminate paper checks. The hard cost of Checks, on average, is $3.50 - $4.00 dollars per unit to generate (postage, check stock, envelopes, printing, and storage costs). This number is then multiplied if the company uses different check stock and supplies, which results in compounding the costs by the number of bank accounts a company uses. In comparison, an ACH payment transaction costs roughly fifty cents per transaction with no need to have payments physically monitored for hours during issuance.

Reductions in labor hours of issuing payments create reductions in the supplies and materials and cash flow increments, causing electronic payments to substantially impact your bottom line. By eliminating manual processes of outdated payment processing methods, which put a strain on the efficiency of an organization, you can create a significant improvement to your bottom line.

Virtual cards have been available for use for several years and what they offer companies in impact to the bottom line far outweigh the perks of issuing paper checks.  Every dollar a company spends on Virtual Card vendor payments earns them monthly cash rebates that can create a new revenue stream of approximately 1% of a company's Accounts Payable that was spent on virtual cards. This impacts the bottom line, especially when a virtual card partner pays the rebates each month and doesn't hold off for quarterly or annual disbursement. With less paper being used, automatic savings, and monthly cash rebate program, a virtual card rebates system is a win-win situation. 

VNot to mention, that they are highly secure, too.  Single-issue V-Card numbers are unique in each transaction and tied to a specific vendor for a specific dollar amount.

Use this free ROI Calculator to see if it financially makes sense for your company to move from paper checks to ePayments. 

Barrier #5- You've tried them before (and they were too much of a hassle)  

Hey, it happens and we hear that every once in a while.  

If that's your story; simply put, you weren't working with the right payment automation provider!

There are a multitude of companies offering to automate and issue payments on behalf of businesses. In most cases, they collect your cash and then tell you not to worry, they can handle the disbursement of the funds. Or they handle one part of the process but not the other.  YOu dod't get the full package.   

If you work with the right provider, however, they will be with you every step of the way — from implementation, to onboarding to committed technical support.

Further, with the right payment automation provider, you can maintain control of your payments, keep your bank relationship or relationships AND still automate everything that is currently done on paper…saving you time, saving you money and reducing errors caused by tedious manual processes.

Now you need to ask yourself one question — and be honest —  " Is our company using the best payment platform to issue payments to maximize the return our company?"

If the answer is NO.... 

It is TIME to Break the barriers that are holding you and your company from efficiency, cost savings and so much more. 

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