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How finance can use technology to have greater control

CalendarApril 12, 2022
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For finance departments working on digital transformation, control is a central issue in making technology decisions.

Finance and accounting are responsible for some “high stake” items.  Many include: maintaining productive vendor relationships, ensuring accurate and efficient audits, and protecting the organization against fraud. Losing control in any of these areas could have potentially disastrous results. 

Companies are struggling with supply chain issues right now, so it’s more important than ever to keep your vendors happy. The last thing you want is to lose a vendor the company relies on, or delay a critical shipment over payment issues.

Auditing gets more complex every year. Third party risk management is becoming a bigger job, and mandated ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting is on the horizon. The list of financial controls that must be in place is growing. And as we all know, cyber attacks and payment fraud are on the rise.

It’s important to validate solutions to make sure they can maintain at least the same level of control as you already have. But it’s equally important to make sure you’re not missing out on opportunities to do things in more modern and efficient ways that could potentially give you more control.

If losing control could hurt the organization, it stands to reason that more control could help. Here’s how:

Timely, accurate payments

To maintain good vendor relationships, payments need to go out on time and they need to be accurate. Vendors also want choices in how they receive payment. With work from home, we saw many vendors want to switch to electronic payment methods. They might want to be paid by ACH for some invoices, and by card for others. And they might want to change their minds from time to time. Essentially they want the same kind of flexibility and choice they have when making consumer payments.

With end to end payment automation, vendors get paid in the manner of their choosing. Accounts payable has a single workflow for all payment types. Gone are the days of worrying  about what payment method a vendor prefers, because the payment provider handles enrollment and keeps their preferences up to date.

They have precision control over who gets paid and when, and can approve payments from anywhere--even from a smartphone. You have a single dashboard where you can see the progress of all your payments--whether a check has been cashed or a card has been processed. If there’s an error, the payment service provider resolves it for you. You still control your banking and vendor relationships, but the payments provider handles all the processing.

Faster, easier audits

In a paper based environment, pulling together spending data for audits is a big challenge. AP and finance teams may have to spend hours combing through paper files for documentation. They may even have to go offsite to a records storage facility.

With payment automation, all of your spending data is in one place, in the cloud where you can give auditors permissioned access to digital records. All the information is digital, so it’s easy to run reports. 

Better fraud protection

Payment fraud is rising and becoming more sophisticated. With more payments being made by ACH, AP and finance are being heavily targeted by vendor email compromise schemes in which fraudsters pose as vendors asking for payment to be made into a new bank account which they control.

It’s getting harder for individual companies to keep up. Companies are putting more controls in place for verifying bank account data. That’s the right move, but it places additional burdens on staff, and on vendors who are legitimately changing bank accounts.

With payment automation, the payment provider handles data management and security for you. Data is protected in the cloud with state of the art technology, and there are entire teams of people dedicated to fraud prevention. This is what allows payment providers to indemnify customers against fraud. 

Looking with outside eyes

In any environment where there’s worry about losing control, people tend to cling to what’s familiar and comfortable. That’s just human nature. But it’s often not the most efficient or effective way, especially if a lot of time has gone by and a lot of change has happened since you last evaluated your systems and processes. 

As people’s attitudes toward work, and the nature of work itself changes, take a look at your department through the eyes of potential new hires. How much does control hinge on repetitive manual processes? How much time and energy is each process, or part of the process taking? Does the way you’re doing things work in a remote or hybrid world? 

Are you staying competitive in terms of operational efficiency? Could new tools increase efficiency and control?  Let your people sleep better at night knowing the organization is prepared and protected, and wake up able to do more strategic work during the day.

Author

Julia Collins

Julia Collins

Director Of Strategic Sales

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