When a finance department operates more efficiently, everyone benefits. Customers and suppliers will be more satisfied with smoother payment processing, and businesses enjoy increased revenue growth and reduced costs. An efficient finance function takes less time and effort performing traditional non-revenue generating financial tasks and instead invests in identifying potential areas of growth or cost-savings by studying financial data.
Yet finding and acting on opportunities within the finance department to streamline work processes, incoming customer payments and smooth interactions with vendors and suppliers can be a challenge.
Here are some strategies and solutions to simplify and improve the finance processes in your own business.
Identify your finance function pain points
It sounds obvious, but before looking for solutions to finance challenges, identify the real pain points. Some common challenges facing these departments include:
- Complicated or legacy accounts receivables and payables tools and processes with steep learning curves that cause delays or inconsistencies
- Overflow of transactions and time-consuming or non-value manual tasks
- Ongoing cash flow issues, such as constantly struggling between getting quicker payment receipt and deferring payments to suppliers/vendors, while simultaneously dealing with insufficient cash to make payroll or other key expenses
- Poor integration between banking transactional, accounting and payment systems
- Partial view of business spend and suppliers
Meet your finance department's needs
Although the challenges facing finance departments may seem complicated, business finance professionals have clear priorities, which include:
- Continuous access to enough cash to meet required bill payments
- A method or tool to help negotiate longer/better supplier payment terms
- A simpler and faster way to accept payments
When these needs are met, customers are happier, financial processes become more efficient and interaction with vendors and suppliers improves. It's a win-win-win situation.
Leverage continuous access to cash with unsecured financing
Getting unsecured credit is an efficient and timely solution that complements more traditional means of financing and supports business cash flow challenges. Use a business credit card to pay bills when they're due. This alleviates the need to defer supplier/vendor payments in anticipation of customer payments or receivables and may enable early pay discounts and other cost efficiencies.
American Express Small Business Card holders, for instance, can leverage up to 55 days* of unsecured credit depending on the purchase date, payment date and billing cycle. Compare that to a typical 15 days when you write a cheque or pay by EFT.
You can also save time and effort by referring to credit card statement items when completing monthly bookkeeping and accounting tasks.
Accelerate your payments collections
In addition to paying your suppliers on a timely basis and enabling your cash flow with an American Express business card, accepting it for your American Express payments collections from customers means you can enable efficiencies across your supply chain. You'll get paid faster, and you'll save time, money and effort in several other ways. These include:
- Flexibility on your credit card fees by negotiating related costs with your suppliers and creating synergies
- Reduced costs and processing time associated with cheques, ETFs and wire transfers
- Reduced costs of written off accounts (American Express takes care of collections), credit checks and issuing invoices
- An opportunity to expand your customer base to those businesses and individuals who prefer to pay with their selected credit card
- Key customer insights through data spend analytics of electronic American Express transactions
- These convenient and simple methods of accepting and issuing payments can make for more streamlined finance departments and more satisfied customers.
* As a charge card, the balance must always be paid in full each month in which no interest charges will apply. The interest free grace period is 28, 29, 30 or 31 days from the closing date of the current statement to the closing date of the next statement depending on the number of days in the calendar month in which the closing date occurs. The number of interest free days varies based on a variety of factors, including when charges are posted to your account, whether your account is in good standing, and the closing date of your statement
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.