School’s Out for Summer, and it’s Time to Automate Your Accounts Payable

Colleges and universities have faced many challenges over the past two years. While returning to in-person work and learning after the pandemic alleviated some of these challenges, the state of higher education is still troubling, especially for business offices.

Business offices play a significant role in education and are a strong force in connecting the community. They help navigate challenges in education, including academic performance, teacher staffing, student enrollment, and more.

Currently, challenges include an overall decline in enrollment and significant staffing shortages in the classroom and business department. Along with these challenges, a tumultuous economy continues to add to the stress these departments are experiencing.

Understandably Accounts Payable (AP) departments are the cornerstone of an effective business office, yet 72% of school financial leaders consider their vendor payment operations to be only somewhat or slightly effective1. This often results from manual, paper-based processing, which is cumbersome, prone to error, and not secure.

In 2021, 74% of higher education professionals reported that the biggest challenge impacting education was financial constraints2—but implementing Paymerang’s world-class Payment and Invoice Automation solutions can help. With students on summer break, it’s the perfect time to improve processes in your business office, starting with AP automation.

AP Automation streamlines the accounting process and saves teams thousands of hours annually. This empowers staff and allows them to focus on strategic initiatives for their students, like improving student retention and completion; improving campus diversity, equality, and inclusion; and fostering a sense of belonging campus2.

There are also greater efficiencies with manual invoice processing. A 2019 report from SAP Concur and Kelton Global found that universities waste 2,000 hours each month manually processing expense reports and invoices3. Paymerang’s Invoice Automation solution utilizes Artificial Intelligence to read captured invoices and extract data points, which minimizes the amount of manual data entry and increases workflow. Moreover, organizations benefit from enhanced visibility, reduced errors, and the option of going paperless thanks to electronic processing and archiving.

Implementing finance automation also helps organizations mitigate their risk of fraud, including cybersecurity threats. Last year, 88 education sector organizations within the U.S. were impacted by ransomware, including the campuses of 26 colleges and universities4. According to a Baltimore County Public Schools spreadsheet, a 2020 ransomware attack had cost the county more than an estimated $8.1 million as of last year5.

Coupled with the financial burden of the pandemic, damages from a ransomware attack on Lincoln College closed the institution’s doors after 157 years in operation6. The attack took down the college’s systems and servers, making it impossible to access institutional data or admission information. Each year, the internal security teams employed by solutions like Paymerang stop hundreds of fraud attacks against their clients, saving millions of dollars and preventing attacks like this.

Finally, finance automation creates business continuity. While many educational organizations have returned to the office full-time, there must always be a contingency plan in place to work remotely. AP Automation enables business continuity by eliminating tasks and establishing role-based controls, providing AP leaders visibility into their business no matter where they are located.

In the long run, manual AP processing prevents the business departments at higher education institutions from putting their focus where it matters most—on students. Implementing Paymerang’s Payment and Invoice Automation solutions is a straightforward process, leaving your department with plenty of time to work on other projects before students return in the Fall.


1PYMNTS: How the Digital Shift is Coming to Financial Offices

2The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U): 2021 Report Identifies Top Challenges and Strategic Priorities for Colleges and Universities

3EdTech: Survey Finds Universities Waste Time on Manual Expense Reports

4The State of Ransomware in the US: Report and Statistics 2021

5Baltimore County Public Schools

6Bank Info Security: College Shuts Down Due to Cost of Ransomware Attack

Brian Cook

Brian Cook

As Vice President at Paymerang, Brian Cook brings over 19 years of experience working with various educational procurement and consortia programs designed to lower the cost of delivering high quality education, provide efficiency gain, and protect institutions against the proliferation of fraud. He leads the partnerships with several associations and coalition procurement programs for Paymerang and will identify as well as sharing best practices on reducing exposure to common compliance and fraud problems that plague institutions today.