David Disque, CEO of CSI (Corporate Spending Innovations), dives into how his firm quickly pivoted to an all-digital approach with the onset of the pandemic. “Digitizing manual processes should be a top priority,” he says. “Accounts payable (AP) is well-suited for automation, and payments is the best and easiest place to start.” Here, he explains why digital technology is key to enabling businesses to adapt and succeed amid and post-COVID.
At the onset of the pandemic, CSI — like many businesses — did not anticipate the significant impact it would have on the health of individuals and, subsequently, the global economy. The most significant change the company made was how we communicated to our prospects and customers the necessary benefits of electronic payments amid the remote operating environment. We rapidly deployed an all-digital approach and reinvented ways to immediately educate businesses on the benefits of payments automation.
The stay-at-home mandate from government officials presented a serious challenge to accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) departments alike. For AP, many of the day-to-day processes — such as receipt and review of invoices, data entry into ERPs or accounting systems, workflow approvals and payments — were nearly impossible to complete from a remote environment. The same is true for AR, with the challenging process of receiving, depositing and posting check payments.
Organizations made the difficult decision to send AP employees into the office to conduct business — specifically to make payments and to receive and deposit check payments — to avoid compromised cash flow. The status quo options were no longer acceptable or sustainable.
CFOs were rapidly realizing that not having an ePayments solution could not only damage their vendor relationships, but could in some cases jeopardize their entire business.
CSI’s payments platform enables secure, cloud-based digital workflow and full digitization of all payment types, including paper checks. We immediately offered our customers accelerated implementations and the ability to add electronic check payments to their existing solutions. This alleviated the need for staff to go into the office. Without the normal business channels of in-person meetings, trade shows and conferences, we developed a digital plan to educate and help businesses with their most critical and immediate payment needs.
We offered a series of educational programs that included weekly live webinars, podcasts, email campaigns and social media engagements to offer payment solutions to as many businesses as possible.
We were joined by leading industry experts who offered helpful suggestions, and we partnered with media leaders and influencers to broaden our reach.
As businesses begin the slow process of reopening, there are lessons learned as well as gaps identified in AP processes that must be resolved. We now have the knowledge and opportunity to make changes in preparation for the next unknown crisis.
Digitizing manual processes should be a top priority. AP is well-suited for automation, and payments is the best and easiest place to start.
Leveraging digital technology as it continues to advance will prepare organizations to conduct business anytime, anywhere for the foreseeable future.