When you work in AP, you might have a nagging feeling that there is a better way to do this. That there are processes that could be systematized and automated, so that you could focus on more strategic work within your department. The case for payments automation is strong, but it takes buy-in from a number of stakeholders to make it happen. When you understand the motivations behind each stakeholder, it can help you succeed in getting a payments automation project off the ground in your enterprise.
Typical challenges in the payments process
To become a champion for payments automation, it’s important to understand the primary reasons why manual payment processes are broken.
- Checks are a pain and subject to fraud
- Time consuming and expensive to print and manage
- Managing vendor data and moving vendors to electronic payments is difficult
- Managing multiple payment methods is cumbersome
- Limited IT resources to format payment files
- Electronic payments require coordination with suppliers
- Different payment types require different processes
On a day-to-day basis that means time-strapped AP teams are troubleshooting failed payments, reconciliations, multiple approval workflows, changing compliance requirements, multiple ERPs and multiple operating entities.
An automated payments process resolves these issues.
Key stakeholders in payment automation project approval
Each of the stakeholders in the decision-making process have their own perspective. Understanding why each of these people would support a new payment solution is key to making a compelling case internally for automation. Here’s a breakdown of the common stakeholders and what motivates them to support payments automation.
Though not always directly involved in this decision, CEOs may have final signoff or can be hands-on in deciding whether to pursue payments automation or not. In addition to the financial benefits, CEOs look to industry benchmarks and business trends.
Stats like that 80% of companies are transitioning their B2B payments from paper checks to electronic payments and comparing the cost of processing invoices and payments with competitors are great ways to get the CEO on board.
The CFO is the most straightforward stakeholder. Chief Financial Officers are responsible for the fiscal health of your organization and explaining payments automation in these terms will make sense to the CFO.
- Wants simple process with high dependability and integrity
- Cost and efficiency improvements
- Risk mitigation
Your treasury department also cares about an improved reconciliation process but also will appreciate the better cash management from payments automation. It’s important to point out that a well-implemented payments solution will not disrupt their current banking relationships either.
If there are people with concerns within the AP department, here is something to consider. Payments automation enables AP teams to process supplier invoices without human intervention. While AP’s time commitment to processing payments will be a small fraction of what it used to be, that doesn’t mean that AP loses visibility and control. In fact, with real-time dashboards you will have an improved view of payment status.
It’s important that procurement teams understand the supplier experience and that a new payments solution isn’t a new headache for them. The procurement department will be happy to hear that payment automation will reduce costs and, in fact, will get rebates on payments.
What to do next?
When your organization understands the benefits of modern payments solutions, the next step is to get a practical understanding of what it takes to stand it up including the timeline and investment. This is where we come in. If you need guidance to share with the rest of the decision makers in your enterprise, we can help.