As the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, finance leaders must develop strategies to mitigate its impact on their company’s cash flow, supply chains and people.
From healthcare organizations to insurers and beyond, businesses must rethink the way they fulfill core functions such as paying suppliers, customers and employees. Yet, only 43 percent of those surveyed recently by Forrester believe that their business has a plan in place to deal with a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses are desperate for leadership during this trying time.
COVID-19 already is disrupting supply chains and business operations while putting entire industries in peril. Many employees are working remotely, factories are shuttered, and credit lines are drawn down. There’s no telling the long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on the global economy.
But it’s clear that automation is one of the most powerful tools that finance leaders have at their disposal for effectively responding to the significant challenges raised by the spread of COVID-19.
How Electronic Payments Support Critical Business Functions
Finance leaders can help lead the business through the pandemic through their use of technology. Core finance systems such as the ERP must be functional and accessible. Those are the table stakes.
But finance leaders must also use automation to support key parts of the business that are likely to be impacted by the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. Omni-channel payment solutions – a single platform for managing any outbound or inbound payment – are critical to this effort. Here’s why:
- Cash flow will likely be hit hard by the pandemic. Finance leaders can support the C-suite with payments analytics that provide insights into liabilities. Line-of-business managers can use the reporting from payments solutions to track spending for budgeting and forecasting.
- Finance leaders may be able to help procurement keep the company’s supply chain moving, and ensure the viability of their suppliers, by paying suppliers electronically. Compared to paper checks, electronic payments arrive faster, are easier to track and report on and require less work for posting by a supplier – all critical considerations for cash-strapped suppliers.
- Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions and reloadable debit cards help ensure that employees and contractors get paid when payroll staff are unable to get into the office to cut checks. Financial assistance also can be sent to employees through instant payments.
- Finance leaders can help CFOs free up cash on existing revenues through cash-back rebates on payments made via virtual cards, ACH+ and debit cards, and through early-pay discounts.
- With electronic payments, there also are opportunities to support payables staff working at home by providing the tools they need to securely pay suppliers without going into the office.
- Finance leaders can provide audit and compliance with peace of mind at a time when the pandemic has disrupted daily operations. Omni-channel payment solutions provide multi-factor user authentication, configurable access controls, approvals based on established business rules, comprehensive audit trails, segregation of duties and real-time reconciliation.
- Finance leaders may be able to help the business fulfill its obligations to it consumer customers. Omni-channel payment solutions provide businesses with the flexibility to pay consumers in their preferred format. During the crisis, that might mean instant payments.
Each of these benefits is essential to helping a business respond to the pandemic, or any crisis.
5 Reasons Finance Leaders Should Automate Their Payments During Crisis
Finance leaders have an opportunity to help lead their business through the COVID-19 pandemic using technology. Lot of providers will say that their technology can help finance leaders during the crisis. But there are five reasons that finance leaders should prioritize omni-channel payment solutions:
- Omni-channel payment investments can be easily rationalized: During the best of times, a business may have hundreds of projects in flight competing for limited resources. During a crisis, the resources for new projects are stretched bare. Despite these constraints, finance leaders should prioritize omni-channel payment solutions for their ability to help the business maintain critical operations, free up cash flow, manage risk, and prepare for the rebound.
- Omni-channel payment solutions can be deployed fast: No business has the appetite for a complex, resource-intensive system deployment during a crisis. The cloud infrastructure used by omni-channel payment solutions eliminates the need for complicated software or hardware installation. The open APIs built into leading omni-channel payment solutions allow for fast integration with legacy systems. And businesses only need to upload a single approved-payments file to make payments via the recipient’s desired payment method.
- Omni-channel payment solutions ensure business continuity: As COVID-19 has spread, more employees are working remotely. There also is an increased chance that some staff will be temporarily unavailable due to government “shelter-in-place” directives, quarantine or illness. Omni-channel payment solutions use a secure cloud infrastructure and configurable access controls to make sure that the right personnel can access the system, no matter where they are located, to keep critical functions such as payroll and accounts payable going.
- Omni-channel payment solutions are secure: Omni-channel payment solutions ensure that a core finance function remains operational while keeping your data and applications secure. The controls built into an omni-channel payment solution means a business doesn’t have to forego its security and data protection standards due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
- Omni-channel payment solutions can provide a cash injection: The economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is straining corporate cash flows. The cash-back rebates and early payment discounts facilitated by paying suppliers electronically enables businesses to free up cash on existing revenues, without disrupting its payment terms with suppliers.
With the right technology, finance leaders can help lead their organization through the COVID-19 pandemic. Omni-channel payment solutions provide finance leaders with a powerful tool for freeing up cash, ensuring critical operations and mitigating risk, while equipping the business for the future.