The commercial real estate digital transformation is already in the building
Corporate Payments And Payables
Do me a quick favor: put down your phone for a second and look around. Whether you’re at home or in the office, you’ll likely spot digital transformation in progress, from smart speakers to automated thermostats to…well, the phone you forgot to put down.
Technology has become essential to our home and business lives, to the extent that we take it for granted. That’s where we need to get with real estate payments, too, to the point where digital technology becomes so essential and so easy that we take it for granted.
The need to transform is obvious to anyone still sending paper checks. You’re likely sitting on a huge number of disbursement accounts, worrying about security at offices all over your state or even all over the country and keeping the enterprise running on the back of expensive paper processes and a handful of employees. That barely worked before, and it doesn’t work at all now.
You likely realized that already and started trying to tackle the paper and efficiency problems you’ve been dealing with for years. Now that you’ve started down that, you can’t leave the car in neutral and hope you keep cruising. You’ve got to embrace the transformation and accelerate it so that you can leave frustration in the rearview mirror.
As our friends at MRI wrote recently, the big remote work push the pandemic hit us all with should have been the wake-up call to start (or re-start) your own digital transformation.
If not already implemented, real estate enterprises should review and implement systems like:
- Automated payables systems to streamline the requisition, procurement, invoicing and AP payment processes
- Digital contracts, leases and other documents with electronic signatures
- Electronic payment capabilities for residents/tenants and other types of receivables
- Digital mechanisms for the assembly and distribution of reporting packages
So payment transformation is one of the best places to start. You know checks take forever to get to your vendors, you know that they can be lost or re-routed, and you know that the cost and amount of time it takes to get one out the door alone makes them a bad fit for your business. Turning checks and slow, manual processes that vary just enough to be a problem across a bunch of accounts and offices into streamlined, repeatable payments and processes fixes a ton of long-standing problems. Look across your organization and you’ll see that kind of inefficiency is a burden on your employees and on your bottom line.
Take the scourge of multiple bank accounts and offices. By getting everyone running on the same AP automation solution, you’ll be able to batch payments in a single file and avoid the messiness that comes from juggling accounts and drawing checks from each one. That connects accounts and your team, tearing down siloes that used to create risk and frustration.
Or consider the nightmare of trying to onboard new vendors by forcing what’s likely a lean team to pick up the phone and try to coax them into accepting payments, much less digital payments. Getting the right partner lets you turn that process over to professionals who can focus on digitizing more of your payments mix, freeing up more staff time to tackle more transformation opportunities, including the ones that create the revenue you need to grow.
It’s not just that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks here. It’s that the drawbacks don’t really exist. If you’re choosing the right partner to automate and digitize your payments, you’ll pay an upfront cost that you’ll claw back in short order thanks to rebate potential, cost savings, and time savings. Once you’re up and running, you’ll find you can’t imagine life before the transition, the same way I can’t believe I once had to rewind my movies, or my kids can’t believe I waited 3 hours to download a song online.
Transformation is one of those big, scary words we use so often it can lose its meaning, but there’s nothing frightening about what we’re actually saying. Broken down into discrete, actionable steps, transforming your payment systems and how you pay vendors is very practical. The effort isn’t gargantuan, you can be live in less than two months and it will feel radically different for your AP team, vendors, and your bottom line. Given that the pandemic forced you to start the journey and digital transformation is already in the building, it’s only right that you complete the transformation and realize the many benefits of leaving checks and manual processes in the past.
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