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Business pay innovation is getting held back by 'sub-processes'

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Researching financial and resource details on the entire accounts payable chain are rare because it’s difficult to discern how much time an AP team spends on all the required processes and sub-processes for completing a payment. Those task hours are often dispersed across the team and can be tough to measure, which makes fintech-driven automation a good fix.

In accounts receivable, for example, there are staff members that only do cash application. So if you make your cash application process 70% more efficient, and you have a headcount of 10, it's easy to say "Okay, I can assign a savings number to that and reallocate six or seven people.” It’s pretty straightforward. That's much more difficult to do on the AP side.

For most companies, no role within accounts payable focuses solely on handling errors, enablement, fielding phone calls, or escheatment. Team members need to be pulled from other duties to cover those tasks.

I’ve even seen teams pull staff from the manufacturing floor to stuff envelopes during Friday check runs. It’s hard to adequately quantify the time that goes into all these components, let alone understand all of the costs that roll into the payment process. And why would you if you think your method works and there are no viable alternatives?

There is a better way. Fintechs have made steady progress in optimizing the B2B payments process. Payment automation providers can now offer a single interface for all payment types, eliminating the need for multiple payment files.

Some use cloud networks to handle supplier enablement and information management securely at scale, taking those tasks off of AP’s plate.

The combination of technology and services radically changes the process, eliminating some of AP’s most time-consuming and unproductive tasks, and freeing up staff time for higher-value work.

And that’s the fintech difference. Slowly but surely, technology companies have surveyed the fragmented financial services landscape and figured out how to knit processes together to replace complex, repetitive, non-value-added manual activities with a few button-clicks. To truly optimize business payments, you need to look beyond stamps and envelopes and consider the entire payment journey. Only then can you truly understand the massive optimization opportunity in front of you.

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