Money Matters

The time drain in your payment process

Asian woman writing on a whiteboard

You may be saying, “No time drain here. I’ve streamlined my procure-to-pay process.” Great. You’re able to move from requisition to purchase order to bill without rekeying data, enable robust approvals with automated emails and mobile approvals, and set advanced filters to expedite select-to-pay tasks. What about the final step? What about printing checks, stuffing envelopes, and mailing payments? How many hoops do you jump through to set up ACH with banks? Do you still hand out corporate credit card numbers to vendors?

This is the first of three articles on the pains of making payments and what to do about them. With all our automation, payments by check, ACH, or credit card in most companies still pile up unnecessary busy work for finance teams. Each payment type taxes the time and talent of the accounting staff—time that could be spent finding ways to grow or improve the organization.

Speedbumps, detours, and roadblocks in checks, ACH, and credit cards

Even with the trend to move away from checks, some vendors won’t take any other form of payment. They insist a check in hand is most cost-effective for them, regardless of the time it costs you. So we write checks using our financial system’s print-ready PDFs. And that’s where most automation ends. You need to continually restock and reload printer ink. You need to order, receive, and track cases of check stock—locking it away so no one misappropriates it. You need to retrieve check stock, prepare the printer, perform a test payment run, and correct misprints. And you need to stuff and mail all those checks. After sending checks, you pull transaction history from business bank records or retrieve check images from to reconcile issues. At each step you incur busy work—often performed by or under the supervision of highly-trained accounting staff.

ACH payments seem to offer something less labor intensive—that is until you spend time setting up ACH with your banks, providing those very specific NACHA files. While filling out and filing multiple forms so you can spend money drains time on the front end, you still have reconciliation. Talk about burning the candle at both ends. And if you or your vendor change banks, you get to perform the setup and wait on the banks all over again. ACH heads in the right direction, but it could be better.

Paying with a credit card looks ideal until you start dealing with the avalanche of what-if and what-now issues. You give the card number to the vendor, and they charge your account. Simple, right? It is until you’re scouring credit card statements to make sure they align with the bills you paid. And when you catch an incorrect payment, you get to make several phone calls to the credit card company, with their classy on-hold music, to get the charge corrected. When the card expires or gets reissued, you get to contact all those repeat vendors and update the card information.

Whichever method you use, paying bills burns up a resource growing ever more precious to your business—time. Don’t let making payments become a bottleneck at the end of your beautifully automated procure-to-pay system.

The “express” lane for paying bills

Intacct and American Express envisioned a better way to pay bills when they partnered to build Vendor Payment Services—a package of payment offerings within Intacct that take the busy work out of paying your bills. They built each payment service—Intacct Check Delivery, American Express ACH, or American Express Corporate Card—right into Intacct’s current payment workflow. You just select bills to pay and choose the method you want to use. Intacct and American Express take it from there, while your accounting staff goes back to growing and improving your organization.

With check delivery, American Express writes and mails the checks. Because checks are drawn on your existing banks accounts, you still have the same bank reconciliation procedures—also automated in Intacct. And of course, because Intacct is flexible, you can still manually create a check whenever you need to.

With ACH, you share bank account information once with American Express during setup, and they take care of setting up ACH to pay from your various banks. When an ACH payment goes through, American Express posts it to your financials—saving you the time of manually verifying your ACH payments.

Corporate card payments eliminate handing out or updating your corporate card numbers. When you make a payment, American Express issues a one-time-use number to the vendor and posts successful payments back to your financials. Intacct and American Express even automate setup by identifying which of your vendors take American Express.

Stop draining the precious resource of time from you accounting staff and let them get busy making the organization run better and grow faster. Learn more about Vendor Payment Services.