Key Takeaways from a Director of Finance on Payment Automation

Key Takeaways from a Director of Finance on Payment Automation

We recently hosted a webinar with Mark Romito, Director of Finance for the Township of Upper St. Clair. It was aptly titled, "The Township of Upper St. Clair Saving taxpayer money through automation," and highlighted implementation, usage, and overall impressions from using Nvoicepay.

Fresh off a two-year stint as a COO of a private-practice accounting firm, Romito channeled his zeal and enthusiasm for solutions that improve processes and applied those to the public sector. Romito’s embrace of Nvoicepay’s payment automation solution transformed the payables department in the Township of Upper St. Clair that led to departmental improvements along with a new revenue stream.

Here are a few quotes and takeaways from that session.

When asked of the challenges Romito and his team experienced in the AP process:

"I immediately saw a handful of areas where I wanted to make some improvements. One of the biggest problems was I couldn't find enough time for myself and my staff to make those improvements, and one of the bigger time sucks really was the AP process."

Take away: Payments automation wasn't so much a means to an end; instead, it was a way for Romito and his team to begin focusing on more strategic goals. Since the actual payments process was their most significant hindrance to fulfilling those strategic improvements, they opted to start with the biggest leech on their resources to focus on loftier improvements.

"We had made an attempt a couple of years before I came here to get as many vendors as we could enrolled in ACH payments, but it didn't matter [...] we ended up getting about 20 percent of the vendors enrolled [...] even if we had gotten 99 percent, we still would have had multiple workflows for the payments."

Take away: Payment automation isn't only about sending payments electronically. It's about simplifying the entire payment making process. Romito and his team didn't want just to digitize the many disparate payment workflows. Instead, they wanted to roll all the different workflows into a single, automated one. Anything but that, and it wouldn't be worth their time.

When asked how long their department had been dealing with these challenges:

"I was very disappointed and almost gave up the search when I realized my big bank couldn't help me with this [...] I hadn't really thought of a non-bank solution until I came across Nvoicepay."

Take away: It often takes an outside perspective to solve problems. It’s that same way of thinking that’s allowed fintechs—such as Nvoicepay—to solve problems banks have been unable to resolve themselves.

When asked what Romito liked about the Nvoicepay solution:

“One big difference between the bank [...] and what Nvoicepay had was once we were going to get the vendors set up in Nvoicepay, the vendor payment instructions were really out of our hands. We wouldn't have to maintain those. Nvoicepay was going to take care of it, which was very attractive to us.”

Take away: There’s more nuance to Nvoicepay’s solution than just sending payments electronically. A large portion of AP’s time is spent gathering and updating supplier banking information. Payment automation by Nvoicepay not only maintains but guarantees the accuracy of all supplier payment data—something Romito was more than happy to hand over.

When asked whether they had attempted to use a card product to pay supplier in the past:

“...we were trying to think of ways where we could incorporate payments [...] through our existing procurement card program to pay certain vendors [...] we knew they would accept a card and we could get a rebate. But even trying to do that on a very limited basis became difficult because by doing that we were introducing yet another workflow.”

Take away: Romito underscored the importance of time-savings in any strategic initiative he would undertake in payables—even if it meant failing to earn rebates. He knew the complexity of adding yet another payment workflow outweighed whatever benefits rebates would generate. Time is money, after all.

When asked to share some of the results from their payment automation implementation:

“...for us having $9,500 in rebates already over seven months, that's $9,500 we wouldn't have had otherwise, and that's a meaningful number to us and our budget. [...] keep in mind we're government so we're working with tax dollars. We're looking to create as many efficiencies as we can, and where there are opportunities to create new revenue sources without digging into the pockets of our residents and taxpayers, we're really happy to do that.”

Take away: Around 1,518 residents of the Township of Upper St. are see seeing the fruits of those rebates reinvested in the services provided for them. It’s refreshing to hear how even local governments are looking for ways to save the taxpayer money.

“We actually gave [...] view-only access to our auditors this year to go into Nvoicepay. We gave them a login. They've gone into Nvoicepay, and they've been able to pull up proof of payment to help with the audit, which really saved us time in the audit process too, and it really impressed the auditors as well.”

Take away: Transparency. Transparency. Transparency. Not only does this make internal auditing painless (quickly search and view up to seven years of past financial data), but it also makes external auditing a breeze. We hear a lot of talk about transparency from government, and again, it’s refreshing to hear how Romito and his staff is making it a reality.

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