A recent article by Richard Emrich, Director of Treasury at Northwestern University, features insights on moving from check to electronic vendor payments. Following are highlights of his experiences throughout the process, and what it has meant for Northwestern.
The first step toward going electronic was finding out what was possible. Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) analyzed and segmented Northwestern’s spend file, matching it to a database of vendors already accepting card or ACH payments. It gave the university the information they needed to make decisions and get senior management buy-in.
Set goals and get management buy-in
Prepare thoroughly and leverage the experience of other institutions
Form a cross-organizational team and meet weekly
Leverage your bank’s planning tools and support
Keep up the momentum post-implementation
The spend file analysis revealed where vendor recruiting efforts should begin. Northwestern then began to forge robust partnerships, creating a cross-organizational team led by Treasury, Accounts Payable and Accounting, before embarking on a pilot phase.
PREPARATION AND COLLABORATION
The key to success was being fully prepared even before the pilot. The university conferred with peers who had already implemented some form of e-payments, gaining valuable insight. Strong teamwork helped build trust between departments and with BofAML, making it easier to tackle challenges.
Northwestern implemented a number of electronic products, including virtual card, corporate credit cards, prepaid card and the electronic supplier network, Paymode-X® Connect. Today, 75% of annual dollar volume is paid through these methods, exceeding expectations. The financial benefits included cost savings, process efficiencies and rebate, with the unexpected bonus of increased fraud protection.
Implementing e-payments is just the start of the process for Northwestern. They are actively embracing new capabilities and new technologies to stay ahead of the curve. Read the full article to learn more.
- When Northwestern University switched to ePayments, they reduced costs and increased revenue
- Being prepared and building robust partnerships, within the university and with BofAML, helped ensure success
- Results exceeded expectations, with 75% of annual dollar volume paid electronically