Everyone’s work from home setup should include the basics: an ergonomic chair, second monitor and a good working surface. But when accounts receivable professionals do their work from home, it takes more than the basics to thrive: reliable cloud-based software solutions and AR practices that encourage paperless transactions are necessary.
Let’s review the top solutions and practices you’ll need to ensure the extended success of your remotely-working AR operation.
Remote-work-friendly payment policies
Virtual cards have emerged as a vital tool to keep B2B payments flowing in remote-work environments. Buyers use virtual cards to deliver fast, secure payments to their vendors, often days or weeks faster than a check in the mail.
Paper checks have fallen further out of favor not only because of empty offices and postal slowdowns, but because processing paper checks in a remote work environment is an unwieldy and manual process.
Virtual credit cards, however, are ready-made for straight-through-processing and, according to PYMNTS.com, “vendors are adopting automated solutions that can help them easily receive and process card payments and their associated data.”
Virtual cards are suited to the work from home environment because they offer great security, fast funds, attached remittance and are more easily processed than traditional payments. But there is competition on the horizon. Near-instant ACH transactions have growing appeal as they offer many of the same benefits as virtual cards.
Keeping up with accounts payable automation adoption
Accounts receivable teams are often forced into a reactive relationship with their counterparts in accounts payable. When AP teams send payments decoupled from remittance, it’s on the AR department to put them back together. When large customers demand that suppliers invoice into their AP portals, it’s on the AR team to figure out how to do it efficiently. The AR / AP relationship has always been a game of cat and mouse.
According to a 2020 poll of 325 U.S. financial executives, “91 percent were investing in financial technologies intended to help with newly remote operations... especially ... automated and advanced learning technologies.”
The same report states that AP leaders are “leveraging AI technology [to process] vendor invoices at a faster pace than staff could do manually.” Faster AP invoice processing is an opportunity for AR organizations to realize cash more quickly for their firms. But they will only realize the full potential of the digital transformation of the AR / AP relationship if they leverage the AR automation tools now available to make transactions on their end faster and friendlier to the remote-work environment.
Solutions that deliver cross-team insights
To the surprise of most AR managers who held traditional views of the value of in-person teamwork, productivity across newly-remote workers has widely been reported as either being the same or up from the days of in-office work.
But productivity and insight are two different things. Managers that feel that they are lacking insight into their employees' work may become uncomfortable and adopt strategies that have been described by some as micromanaging.
To avoid this, finance teams should look to SaaS solutions that help increase work from home productivity while giving managers insight into their AR team’s activities.
SaaS solutions for invoicing and payments have been around for a long time and greater adoption would benefit managers and their remote teams. But AR organizations should pay special attention to new solutions for the credit and collections teams. Credit and collections activities often stretch over days and weeks. SaaS credit and collections solutions make it easier for remote team members to pick up where others left off and for managers to govern processes remotely.
For a more in depth conversation on what your AR organization can do to improve its remote work practices, please contact us and a Billtrust expert in AR automation will reach out to you shortly.