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Automating Payment Processing During a Crisis

by Scott Schimberg

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to dramatically change their day-to-day operations almost overnight. Many finance teams were simply not prepared to shift to a completely remote workforce. You may be left asking questions such as, “How do I continue to receive customer checks when I’m not physically in the office?” or “How do I approve and process vendor invoices and sign checks remotely?”

Cash flow will be crucial for helping your business navigate through this crisis. Errors in your billing process can lead to costly delays in receiving payments. Interruptions in making payments may strain supplier relationships, causing them to be unable to fulfill vital requests. Now is the time to review the technologies and processes you have in place for accurate and timely payment processing.

These are some key steps you can take to help ensure continuity of operations.


Accounts Receivable

  • Review the capabilities of your existing accounts receivable software. There are likely modules within the software you currently own that you can turn on or third-party add-on solutions you can purchase to help automate the process.
  • If you aren’t already, start sending all invoices via email and set up online payment options such as ACH and credit card payments for your customers.
  • If you still have a need to receive physical checks, have them sent to a lockbox rather than the office.
  • You can no longer rely on physically signing and mailing hard copies of contracts. Consider moving to a service such as Adobe Sign to review, sign and send contracts remotely.

Accounts Payable

  • If you don’t already have an automated purchase requisition and invoice approval process, now is the time to put one in place. Invoice approval can be as simple as receiving documents via email, saving them to the workflow and having the workflow send automated alerts to approvers.
  • Instead of cutting and signing checks, set up ACH payments or find out if you can pay invoices with a credit card. Check with your bank to see if activation is required.

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment for businesses. It is more important than ever to have a clear picture of the money coming in and going out to determine how your organization will be impacted.

Automating your payment processes is a good place to start, but keep in mind that this situation will also require a massive amount of communication to keep your internal staff aligned and informed. As you make changes to your business operations, make sure you have a clear workflow in place, so your employees understand what processes they need to follow.

COVID-19 may be the catalyst event that drives businesses to automate processes and move work to the cloud, but it won’t be the last. Following these steps now will better position you to navigate through the next disruption.

Need help implementing these recommendations? Reach out to our experts, who are ready to assist. To find more information on how to keep your business running through disruption, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

March 26, 2020

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