Payments Innovation

How AP Automation Supports Business Continuity Plans

Business Continuity

With his experience working with companies located in hurricane zones, Joel Wilhite, CFO of AvidXchange, knows how to properly execute business continuity planning, a necessity for companies in uncertain times. The accounts payable (AP) automation technology company helps businesses harness technology to run once-manual business processes.

Technology, he says, has come a long way since the days when a business continuity plan included a lot of lifting and shifting of business operations.

Wilhite told PYMNTS in an interview that it’s “tough to do well what you don’t practice” for business continuity planning, a frequent exercise that involves portraying various scenarios in a conference room and discussing adjustments. He emphasized that having a plan is different than practicing it. Plans, for their part, include a full-scope end-to-end evaluation of all of a firm’s business processes. Another component of preparedness is being ready to communicate and evaluate if the company has sufficient technology.

Many business continuity scenarios include not having access to the office, or a lack of electricity in the office — alternatively, staffers might have to stay in their homes. States, for their part, have put forward strict policies for individuals to stay at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And companies have adapted to the situation by enabling remote work structures.

In the past, lifting and shifting of business operations for business continuity included shipping CDs to paying for hot sites, that, in a way, served as an insurance policy. If a hurricane was approaching, finance teams had designated staffers who could drive to set up in a place a company has been paying for but never used. Those staffers would make the trip, set up in a hotel, and make sure that business could be conducted when the office was offline.

Wilhite says that AP automation, however, provides a “central hub” for payment-related files where firms can check payment and approval history — as well as inspect records themselves. Firms also gain 24/7 access, customized workflows, and solid reporting with an AP automation solution.

Full-scope automation of accounts payable also includes automating a payment. Instead of generating checks, worrying what checks go where, and being dependent on the mail, AP automation lets companies run a payment file out of the accounting system that they use and avail themselves of the AvidXchange’s payment network to execute those payments. Firms also have the FinTech’s service teams to improve supplier relationships.

AvidXchange has found that over 60 percent of companies have a business continuity plan in place. However, only 37 percent have the necessary technology to enable employees to work from home as part of their strategy. And only 22 percent have a plan that can sustain their business for more than two months.

The FinTech has been able to accomplish that configuration. It also provides automation for accounts payable (AP), which is a business process that has been late to move from paper and into the cloud. Today the technology can enable companies to run a key part of their operations remotely and employees can access enterprise-level programs with applications on the cloud while sitting at home.

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