Ten Reasons to Integrate Your Payments Environment
Written by Greg Hammermaster, Sage North America
1. Improve cash flow
When you integrate all your points-of-payment directly to your bank for settlement – and to your accounting system for reconciliation – you maximize your cash flow. Sitting on checks and receipts minimizes your cash position, which impacts your business’ liquidity.
2. Optimize sales channels
Any payment method – whether a credit card terminal, e-commerce web site, or a mobile phone equipped to take payments – that’s not integrating directly to your accounting system isn’t optimized for sales execution and back-office efficiencies; therefore, increasing cost-of-sales.
3. Eliminate manual data entry
Manually entering data in both a point-of-sale (POS) solution and an accounting solution doubles the time it takes to complete the payments process. By integrating your payments environment, you can reduce time spent on accounts receivable (A/R) processing so you can spend more time on revenue-generating opportunities.
4. Automate the reconciliation process
Duplicate data entry also results in more manual errors, which someone has to untangle and reconcile. When payments automatically “post-back” to the accounting system, errors are reduced and posting and reconciliation are streamlined, saving time and money.
5. Organize your payments environment
The payments industry is highly fragmented and confusing. An advanced, integrated payments portal can offer Web and mobile access to a reporting dashboard, merchant statement, billing support, a single toll-free customer support line, and administration of all your connected payment devices, applications, and services.
6. Improve your PCI compliance situation
Payment Card Industry (PCI) certified payment platforms can improve your PCI compliancy as a merchant. These platforms remove your connected payment solutions from the scope of PCI (PA-DSS) by ensuring all connected payment solutions never store or transmit unencrypted credit card data. In return, your PCI audit is more streamlined. More importantly, your business is secure and your customers’ data is safe.
7. Improve your audit position
Manual processes increase auditor scrutiny and require additional sampling of data and processes, driving up your costs and use of resources. Automating those manual payment processes can cut costs on financial and regulatory audits.
8. Gain the value of consolidation
An automated and integrated payments environment is often offered by a single vendor or consortium, creating price efficiencies across a spectrum of payment services, while reducing the cost and complexities of managing multiple vendors.
9. Take advantage of what’s next
An extensible, integrated payments platform is more capable of adding advanced features and solutions, such as mobile payment apps, automated invoicing, or integrated loyalty systems. Traditional merchant accounts are standalone solutions that don’t ‘connect’ or offer opportunities to add integrated payment services.
10. Because you can
High costs and heavy IT requirements for building custom solutions have previously made integrated payment systems an option for only larger businesses. Now, business software providers are bringing pre-integrated payment solutions to market, so small and midsized businesses (SMBs) can easily and cost effectively ‘turn on’ an integrated payments environment from inside select accounting or ERP solutions.
About the Author: Greg Hammermaster has 25 years of experience in banking, payment solutions, and business software applications. As president of Sage Payment Solutions, Sage North America’s payment processing division, he is responsible for the company’s credit card operations based in Virginia and check operations based in Florida. Hammermaster was previously with SunTrust Banks, where he was senior vice president of commercial card and payment services in the Treasury and Payment Solutions Division, and Visa International, where he worked with banks in the areas of online merchant services, debit, credit, and payment solutions, and was instrumental in delivering Visa’s first corporate and purchasing card program. He has presented at the Electronic Transaction Association’s (ETA’s) annual conference; writes for various industry publications on payments-related topics; and serves on the board for Commercial Payments International.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.