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CFOs Are Leading Organizations Out Of A Paper Past

It’s all well and good to talk about digital transformation, Zoom with some sales reps and imagine what modernization might accomplish. Too often, however, it still ends with just that: talk.

Payments modernization is being driven by consumer demand created by Big Tech toys and their connected experiences. That requires a stark realization in the C-suite that the time for talk has passed, and the window for decisive, impactful action is rapidly closing.

“Leadership is key,” Comdata’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Payments Matt Butler recently told PYMNTS. “C-level, key personnel and stakeholders must support active projects. Roadblocks will come, and it’s critical to stay the course with proper endorsement, support and oversight. Leadership support is key to avoiding the repetitious cycles of pilot purgatory.”

To steer clear of “pilot purgatory” and avoid the ghosts of bad upgrades past, PYMNTS’ October/November CFO’s Guide to Digitizing B2B Payments, done in collaboration with Comdata, dives into the smartest ways that system and process upgrades are happening across the continuum of banks, merchants and other touchpoints along the payments value chain.

‘Digital Holdouts’ Still Have Time

Automating accounts payable (AP) and cutting paper from the payments mix are two forms of digitization that more corporates are choosing as paths of least resistance.

“Chief financial officers (CFOs) are growing more interested in making technological upgrades, according to recently released results from a survey that polled 225 CFOs from March to May. Respondents were evenly mixed between those who had and had not started digitizing some processes, with 54 percent saying they had adopted some manner of ‘digital transformation,’ while 46 percent had yet to do so,” according to the latest CFO’s Guide to Digitizing B2B Payments. “The effects of these modernizations were already being felt during the volatile early months of the public health crisis, with CFOs at firms that had not yet digitized financial processes being more likely to report struggles with certain areas of their businesses.”

Also, the fact that “54 percent of these digital holdouts said they were facing more struggles with cash and liquidity management” makes it sting more, but that’s fixable.

“A notable portion of respondents … expected these modernizations to become more important in the near future,” per the Guide. “Thirty-four percent of respondents said that digitizing financial operations would likely be a priority for their organizations next year, compared to the 5 percent who said it was a priority at the start of the pandemic.”

Innovating AP Is a Good Place to Start

CFOs are justifiably scrutinizing every rounding error with their teams cast to the compass points and, in many cases, legacy systems that were never designed for work-from-home.

As a result, the CFO’s Guide to Digitizing B2B Payments notes that “interest in innovating AP has swelled as the pandemic has further highlighted inefficiencies in the ways many firms are currently tackling these processes. Fifty-five percent of AP professionals in a recent survey agreed that moving to digital AP solutions would provide value for firms, for example.”

Because everything has to start somewhere, many CFOs are eyeing paper suspiciously.

“Companies looking to start migrating often dip their toes in by switching out paper check payments for virtual card tools,” the Guide states.

Meitra Aycock, Comdata’s senior VP of corporate payment operations at B2B payments solutions told PYMNTS that “the strain of managing remote workforces and handling other challenges that have arisen as a result of the global health crisis is prompting more firms to fully outsource their AP … so they can focus on other areas.”

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