How Does the Finance Team Benefit from ePayments?

Posted by Andrew Bartolini on October 1st, 2014
Stored in Articles, Process, Procure-to-Pay, Strategy, Technology

Welcome to the third entry in a four-part series that previews Ardent Partners’ upcoming ePayments Rising research study. The pending research report, which is due to publish soon, highlights the evolving perception of electronic payment methods, their benefits and overall value, and how the rise in ePayment approaches actively contributes to the attainment of a veritable “next level” of greater financial operations.

The first two articles in our ePayments Rising preview series focused on the evolution of electronic payment methods and the various barriers that still plague the enterprises that have not yet made the transition away from paper-based checks and other manual methods of settlement. The previous entries in this preview series also detailed the benefits of ePayments, which include a sharp cost savings over paper-based payments and better visibility into spending and ultimate cash flow.

While the benefits are clear in the arena of ePayments, there is another world that benefits from adoption of electronic payment approaches. The ePayments Rising research study finds that electronic payments can drive additional value (beyond savings, speed, and visibility) in three main areas of financial operations: finance function resources, integration, and overall accounts payable depth:

  • Every finance function is typically wrought with Resource issues, ranging from data collection to a wasteful focus on manual, menial tasks (such as processing checks for payment and manually accepting invoices from suppliers). Electronic payments present a formidable option for improving the allocation of resources, namely by eliminating manual settlement methods and providing an automated assessment of compliance concerns.
  • Integration has always remained a key issue for functions across the contemporary enterprise. With so many systems– such as ERP, CRM, and spend management–supporting daily operational activity across the greater organization, it is critical in today’s business environment to have systems in place that “talk” to each other to support collaborative efforts and provide full visibility into cash, finances, and spending. Also, the value of remittance information is becoming more viable in the current marketplace, and ePayment methods are evolving as the years pass to provide deeper intelligence in this regard. Finally, the processes inherent in the procure-to-pay spectrum rely on automated linkage; a lack of integration between these systems can severely inhibit P2P efforts.
  • AP’s Depth has been a concern for many a finance function over the last decade. Where is the AP staff’s time best served? Manual methods of payment are rife with inefficiencies and drain AP staff’s valuable time; with an already-full plate of financial projects, there is little time for strategic, value-add activities. Electronic payments present an opportunity to cultivate an environment (via enhanced spend and cash data) in which finance and procurement can better collaborate, fostering an atmosphere that can easily react to and address critical enterprise issues.

The evolution of electronic payment methods is proving to drive 360-degree value to the modern financial operations function. Beyond the “top-tier” benefits of cost savings (nearly 70% per payment over paper-based checks), increased visibility into cash (due to linkage of P2P processes) and streamlined payment processes, the contemporary AP staff and its stakeholder partners benefit from ePayments and the additional value they bring to the greater organization.

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