When companies pivoted to remote and hybrid work models over the past two years, automation tools became imperative to helping teams work more efficiently in decentralized environments. One of the business functions that was discovered to have the greatest return on investment from automation and digital transformation was finance.
Financial teams have long been relegated to using outdated software and archaic operating systems that were harmful to productivity and became even more burdensome in a remote work model. The race to financial automation in areas such as accounts payable (AP) allowed overworked finance teams to increase efficiency and also reduce errors and miscommunications that can bottleneck decentralized work.
One of the leading AP automation platforms, Paymerang, has been an outspoken advocate for overworked AP departments and the critical function they play in an organization. We caught up with Paymerang’s CEO, Nasser Chanda, about equipping companies with the right financial automation and the lessons he has learned at the helm of one of the fastest-growing players in the space.
Why has financial automation become such an impactful function for organizations recently?
Nasser Chanda: Finance departments are being asked to do more with less, so they need to automate routine tasks and allocate their teams to higher-priority activities. The pandemic accelerated the need for automated workflows and electronic payments.
In a matter of days, organizations were forced to go fully remote and needed to be able to approve invoices and pay vendors electronically. Businesses that digitized their AP functions during the pandemic came out of it stronger. Automating routine tasks improves efficiency, reduces errors, mitigates fraud, and creates more synergies between buyers and suppliers.
Finance departments will always be stressed and must learn how to navigate unexpected challenges. As we move forward, those same organizations now have an opportunity to build on the momentum created during the pandemic and reap the benefits of simple workflows and enhanced visibility into B2B transactions. The drive for improvements never ends.
Can you speak to some of the most important benefits teams receive from automation functions like AP and invoicing?
Nasser Chanda: Technology is drastically changing how we do business. Historically, finance departments began modernizing via their accounting (ERP) systems and products like bank lockboxes. That modernization is going into hyperdrive with tools like intelligent document data capture, paperless workflows, automated general ledger posting, and electronic payments. Routine tasks once prone to errors are eliminated, and AP staff can spend more time on strategic functions.
Organizations need solutions that are simple to implement , intuitive to use, and effortless to maintain. That’s why, for example, Paymerang pioneered a five-day implementation process for our solution. Clients want to automate quickly and move on. Businesses that have adopted automated AP processes have experienced the seamless flow of data through their companies— from purchase order approval to invoice receipt to payment delivery to reconciliation—drastically minimizing the headaches AP employees face daily.
Moreover, automated AP processes create more time for higher-order activities, better career progression for employees, higher job satisfaction, and ultimately, higher-performing enterprises.
What have been some of the challenges to leading such a rapidly-growing software platform and how do you overcome them?
Nasser Chanda: Rapid growth creates rapid change. Since Paymerang’s inception, we’ve had two clear guiding principles in mind:
- Externally, we wanted to be radically focused on our mission of providing finance automation for the modern enterprise—to empower finance teams across America to be efficient and successful in their core activities.
- Internally, we wanted to run a high-growth business that was true to its values.
The second principle sometimes fades into the background at startups as they scale up and rapidly grow in headcount. Our employees, leaders, and investors are committed to living out our values of integrity, passion and positivity, simplicity, teamwork, customer focus, and grit every single day.
These values drive decisions and help us navigate challenges. We emphasize them during the employee recruitment and onboarding process, and every day after that.
Were there any surprising leadership lessons you learned as Paymerang has grown to nearly 200 employees?
Nasser Chanda: We learned that we needed to be deeply humble while at the same time incredibly resolute to face the challenges we did. We also realized that, as leaders, we needed to be close to our people; helping them succeed every day and recognizing their incredible achievements in all their wonderful details. Given our growing list of priorities, we had to be very thoughtful about our time.
I advise myself and our C-suite leaders to spend half of each day on the floor, interacting with their teams, and being available for problem-solving and strategic conversations. Being present is important, and engagement fosters success.
I also encourage our people to embrace change. Life is short and we should be adaptable in order to enjoy the journey. Change is hard for people, but we’ve created a culture that thrives on challenges, and embraces change. Our mission and values help anchor us to overcome whatever gets thrown at us. We come together to help each other out.
What role do you think CEOs need to play in fostering an organization’s culture and team environment?
Nasser Chanda: Leading by example and living out your company’s values helps others do the same. CEOs play a significant role in fostering a positive culture and team environment. Once again, it’s important to show up and be present to help others succeed.
What do you believe is going to be one of the most impactful fin-tech trends of the next five years?
Nasser Chanda: Finance automation is the new frontier, and we’re only in the first or second inning in automation. We’ve proven that workflows can be automated and digitized. Now, machine learning and artificial intelligence will help us get to the next level. These technologies can permeate across the enterprise, from AR to AP to HR to customer service.
One example is automated healthcare billing (from providers to insurers) and the subsequent cash application. Another could be intelligent vendor invoice coding and approval routing. We believe that machines can do the work and humans can supervise.
There are so many things that can be done to help manufacturers, healthcare organizations, educational institutions and service companies succeed. Cloud-first technology is the future because it can be implemented quickly with minimal capital outlays, and can provide effortless access to new tools, like machine learning.
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