Why Payment Automation is a Powerful Tool for Procurement and AP Teams

Ensuring a well-organized balance sheet is a core part of the job for Accounts Payable and procurement teams. But many teams find that invoices, checks, and receipts pile up, making monitoring payments and overseeing financing difficult. Relying on physical payment details leads to many operations being bogged down by paperwork and a lack of transparency. That is why many organizations are re-orienting and moving their procurement, AP, and payment management digital.

Shifting from manual processes to digital payments can yield significant benefits to procurement enterprises. Digital payment automation enables enterprises to automate their payment processes. This leads to efficient accounts payable with reduced financial leakage and improved visibility.

Enterprises often hesitate to switch from manual to digital payment automation due to a variety of concerns. Businesses are worried about prolonged transition processes, high costs, and potential issues arising from a digital system. These concerns are not borne out; the reality is often the opposite. Below, we will explore what digital payment automation is, its benefits, and the downsides of manual processes.

What is Digital Payment Automation?

AP and procurement teams have the tricky task of overseeing a company’s payments to suppliers and vendors while ensuring they are up-to-date and fraud-free. This is an important task that is made tricky when enterprises rely on manual payment processes. However, many companies are shifting away from manual payment and are now oriented toward digital payments.

The global pandemic has accelerated the popularity of digital payments as consumers and organizations adapt to a contact-free reality. According to the World Bank, digital payments are now used by two-thirds of adults worldwide. This is a stark increase from the pre-pandemic days.

It isn’t just consumers that have leaned into the digital payment trend; it is also businesses. That is why digital payment automation has become increasingly important for the modern accounts payable, finance, and procurement team.

Digital payment automation is the process of using automation technology to control, manage, and automate supplier and vendor payments. Enterprises can save a considerable amount of time by utilizing a digital payment automation platform. This solution streamlines processes relating to paying suppliers, managing risks, and handling invoicing. As a result, this frees procurement leaders from the need to oversee payments manually.

If digital payment automation is implemented effectively, businesses can consider a host of upsides. This includes expediting receivables, which in turn leads to increased cash flow. These digital payment automation platforms often rely on a virtual, single-use, non-reloadable digital card provided to suppliers through email. These cards have a secure payment number that works with any supplier accepting cards through their bank or merchant services provider.

Digital payment automation is an important tool for enterprises looking to modernize their payment processes and reduce financial bloat. This solution automates some laborious processes that would otherwise occupy employees’ time. It also reduces human error, increases efficiency, and creates a central hub for AP and procurement teams to manage their finances.

Downsides of Manual Payment Processes

Before diving too deep into the benefits of digital payment automation, it is important to look at the systems many organizations currently have with manual payment processes. Manual payment processes have been the norm for decades, but technology has now reached the point where enterprises can safely rely on digital payment automation platforms without the risk of high costs and system failures. Yet some companies still rely on a paper-based system with manual oversight of payments. This can have some substantial downsides. Let’s look at the difficulties manual payment processes can cause.

Time-Consuming for Teams

AP and procurement teams oversee a vast network of suppliers and vendors to ensure timely and accurate payments. This is a big task, considering Razorpay notes that the average business makes at least 25-30 vendor payments a month. Overseeing these payments on a manual or paper-based system, with invoices and checks, is something teams will need to concentrate a substantial portion of their workflow around to do effectively.

Having your AP, finance, and procurement teams tied up in manual payment processes wastes employees’ valuable time. Technology can streamline this process, releasing employees from unnecessary time commitments.

Fraud, Payment Mismanagement, and Fractured Relationships

Even with highly experienced financial teams, manual oversight of the payment process is prone to human error. Machines are more effective at managing information, and manual payments can lead to some serious drawbacks in the form of fraud vulnerability, duplicate payments, mismanagement, and late payments that lead to impacted supplier and vendor relationships.

Having to personally oversee every aspect of the payment process means employees often have their hands full, and that pressure on them means they can overlook important details. This could imply that they’re unable to thoroughly investigate potential financial hazards or identify duplicate payments. Alternatively, they might be swamped with work and consequently overlook making payments to vendors or end up sending them late. Even the best AP teams can fall victim to simple mistakes due to manual payment processes.

Benefits of Digital Payment Automation

Just as there are clear-cut downsides to manual payment processes, digital payment automation has established benefits that have contributed to them becoming the industry norm. For enterprises looking to streamline their AP processes, increase efficiency, and become a more organized, structured business, digital payment automation is a viable solution. Let’s look at some of the biggest benefits digital payment automation can provide.

Improve Visibility and Transparency

One of the biggest issues with manual payment processes is that keeping track of vendor and supplier payments can become extremely difficult. Even if enterprises have excellent manual record-keeping processes, it is much easier for information and payment details to fall through the cracks. This leads to a less transparent payment process where accessing accurate information becomes difficult.

With a digital payment automation platform, enterprises have a centralized software hub for all their payment information. They can access previous and upcoming payments and have a single source of information, so they don’t have to filter through various receipts and invoices. This helps organizations have better visibility and transparency in their payment processes.

Save Money and Reduce Financial Leakage

Digital payment automation is an important tool for organizations that want to avoid financial leakage that is endemic with manual payment processes. Using a digital payment automation platform enables enterprises to save on every transaction. Paper checks and other manual forms of payment have higher end-to-end costs and pose a more significant risk of fraud. Duplicate payments and check fraud are two things that enterprises should rightfully be concerned over. Digital payment platforms can ensure that organizations are less exposed to these risks.

The misconception about these platforms is that they are expensive and have substantial implementation times, but this isn’t true. Within weeks, enterprises can be fully set up on a digital payment automation platform, and while there may be initial costs, the money saved from potential frauds, double payments, overlooked costs, and other forms of financial leakage help make these platforms pay for themselves. In fact, an effective digital payment automation platform can help companies save and recover tens of thousands of dollars, ensuring that they are both easy to implement and affordable.

Bedrock’s Digital Payment Automation Solution

Bedrock is a digital payment automation platform that enables enterprises to convert their AP processes to a virtual solution that reduces financial leakage and improves efficiency. Bedrock helps increase transparency and accuracy in payment processes, eliminating human error and oversight that manual payment processes can lead to. This solution has an array of features encompassing risk assessment, verification, invoicing, and payment automation, ensuring both suppliers and vendors remain content while keeping payment information systematically organized.

Bedrock’s third-party payment processor is Finexio. Finexio processes payments instantly at no cost to clients and has an average launch time of six weeks, meaning within less than two months, businesses can transition to a digital payment solution. Finexio works with existing accounting or ERP systems, so enterprises need not undergo a massive structural overhaul to implement this solution.

Manual payment processes have slowly become redundant as technology has improved. We have now reached the point where automating your procurement processes has such clear benefits that organizations can’t overlook what they provide. With Bedrock, AP and procurement teams have a platform that improves efficiency, visibility, and reduces financial risks, all while freeing up time for teams that no longer have to handle laborious manual payments. It is a hugely impactful solution that leads to a more streamlined, effective payment process.