Get the Most out of Payments Outsourcing

The key to crafting a good working relationship with BPO providers is to ensure critical goals are enshrined in SLAs. Here’s how to do it.

All businesses want the same things from a financial transaction: high quality, low cost, excellent security, and the best possible information to feed into forecasts. Their goal, across the board, is to make the processing of payables and receivables as efficient and effective as possible. That’s why many organizations are turning to business process outsourcing (BPO) providers. When outsourcing the processing of financial transactions, however, businesses need to guard against potential pitfalls that could result in disruption of internal processes, end-customer dissatisfaction, or even data-security breaches.

The best way for an organization entering into an outsourcing arrangement to protect itself is to request service-level agreements (SLAs) from its outsourcing providers. An SLA is rooted in the concept of “warranty,” a common understanding about services, priorities, and responsibilities. It’s a promise that the BPO provider is going to give its customer what it is supposed to provide.

Mean time to recovery. If there is some sort of outage, what is the average time that it takes to be fully back up and running? This is another SLA that comes out of the IT world and has become important in BPO. For example, measuring turnaround times and mean time to return started in the world of IT. However, the concepts extend to business process services, and to business process outsourcing, as well as IT outsourcing.

Finally, there’s analytics. Some companies don’t have the ability, even in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, to run specific analytics on spending or on line-item detail and invoices. Instead of deploying an analytics software package in-house, they might seek a BPO provider that can provide the insights they need.

A good analytics‑oriented BPO provider can supply intelligent mail barcode updates. These updates tell the end customer when mail has been received at its destination point, where the bill went, and when return mail has been sent (when paying something back). With this, a company can start to do predictive analytics on how long the buyer's customer is sitting on the payment and thus assist the end customer in its working capital decisions. Also, predictive analytics on the A/P side can help the buyer predict which suppliers are open to taking additional discounts if they get paid faster.

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