The automation of day to day processes to improve the quality and consistency of outcomes, and to remove the need for costly (and fallible) human control and intervention is something that has been going on for centuries. Whether you want to attribute that to human nature constantly striving for self-improvement or just an underlying laziness, it seems inevitable that whatever the future may hold, it’s going to involve a lot of non-human input.
Not a 21st century concept, honest!
From the early Egyptian invention of the water-clock, through the industrial revolution and mass production under Henry Ford, the benefits and opportunities that automation brings about has spread to all industries and continues to drive and evolve them today.
However, like so many things where money is concerned, the processes surrounding how a business makes and takes its payments through Bacs has traditionally been an area slower to trust and adopt these automation principles – despite the proven benefits of straight-through processing.
At one level of course, this is understandable: ‘letting go’ of the controls and trusting in the programmed logic of an autonomous program – being unable to see, touch or verify what is going on – can be a scary thought.
But that need for control comes at a price.
The cost of not letting go
The compelling need to keep hold of the reigns means whole departments of human resources become tied up on a daily basis expending valuable time and effort in order to process simple routine payments.
Many is the organisation who still relies on hard-copy printouts and groaning filing cabinets; who has employees roaming offices in search of senior management to give approval to proceed, before remembering to file the authorisation away for audit purposes; and not to mention the laborious task of double (or even triple) checking the line-by-line detail of every single file just to make sure the contents are correct…and if an error is found, what then?
Frustratingly, the whole process has to start all over again! And what do you do if Bob is off sick and he’s the only one with a key to the filing cabinet? Or Joan is on holiday and no-one else knows the process she follows
Against that backdrop, who wouldn’t consider an option to handover at least the most menial parts of the process to someone (or something) where you could be confident of reliability and repeatability? Where the only input from your valuable (and costly) people resource is at the points in the process where value is being added or oversight is required?
While we’re at it, what about ensuring that input files are picked up and encrypted as soon as they are generated? What about ensuring that the contents of any sensitive payments files are not seen by anyone who happens to glance at a pile of paper on a desk?
There is another way
An automated payments workflow is your answer.
Customised and configured to suit your own bespoke ways of working, once set up you can hand over responsibility to a workflow (or series of workflows) that will automatically and instantly handle all the core file processing (picking, manipulating, moving) that would otherwise need a person to be involved, whilst still prompting them for action or notifying them of actions taken as required.
Files can be pulled in, errors stripped out and emailed for attention, files can be signed and a manager sent an alert to prompt for review, once approved files can be sent straight through to Bacs, all the while with a full audit trail kept digitally for future reference. Why stop there though – auto-download all Bacs reports as soon as they are available, convert them to a format that’s native to your IT, move the files to a location for import and notify an employee that a new report is available. Once you’ve started automating, enjoy the freedom to tackle whichever area of your manual processing you wish.
Doesn’t that sound like something that would be worth investing in?
Besides, this human instinct for caution and reliance on people-power is far from a panacea to those worried about security. In fact, the opposite often holds true; a 2018 global survey by PwC showed that current and former employees were recorded as the estimated likely source in over 60% of security incidents.
Perhaps those robots don’t seem so scary after all!