Austin Bank Streamlines Operations & Positions for Continued Growth with Automated AP

With: Sandy Rayburn, Chief Financial Officer at Austin Bank, Texas National Association

Austin Bank is a community bank headquartered in Jacksonville, Texas, with offices located in 34 East Texas locations within 24 cities and 12 counties. With an asset size of over $2.5 billion and expansion plans that include opening at least one new branch every two years, Austin Bank is positioning for continued growth.

Founded in 1900, Austin Bank has been focused on serving its communities and customers for over 120 years. While this financial institution has expanded to include more locations and continually adopted new technology to better serve their customers, they remain dedicated to a philosophy of personalized care and service.

The Challenge

In 2015, Austin Bank recognized a need to reduce time-consuming, manual AP workflow, streamline operations, and increase back-office efficiencies. They seized the opportunity to leverage automation, making it possible for everyone from the CFO to their AP managers to become integral drivers of strategic growth.

Sandy Rayburn joined Austin Bank as Controller in 2015. She quickly realized that manual processes were slowing down accounts payable and immediately saw an opportunity to implement more efficient processes in the AP department. The process began by going paperless with invoices and all daily and monthly reconciliations.

Austin Bank’s objective was to reduce manual processes and automate accounts payable:

  • To streamline invoice processing, reconciliations, approvals, and vendor payments.
  • To operationalize the back office as a center for scalability and strategy.
  • To position the bank for continued expansion over the next five to 10 years.

The Solution

As Austin Bank’s new Controller, Sandy Rayburn was greeted with a closet stacked with boxes of paper invoices as she toured the department on her first day. Rayburn previously used BankTEL’s AP automation software during her time in her role with a previous employer as far back as 2010.

Austin Bank made the transition to fully automated AP solutions in 2016, not only to streamline AP workflow, but also to enable the full force of their back office to focus on strategic growth objectives, rather than attempting to keep pace with redundant, time-consuming tasks.

The transition began with a simple and seamless integration between BankTEL and Fiserv Premier.

Streamlines Invoice Processing, Approvals & Vendor Payments

Before converting to BankTEL’s automated accounts payable platform, Austin Bank still relied on paper-heavy AP workflow. With over 30 locations and a plan for continued expansion, the bank recognized it was time for a change if they were to keep up with their own momentum and growth.

Sandy Rayburn remembers taking on the new role of Controller and committing to the transition to automation and a more predictable and productive back office.

“In 2015, I joined Austin Bank as Controller. On my first day, as my predecessor was showing me around the department, he opened this closet door that was stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of paper invoices,” Rayburn says. “I almost had a panic attack having to go through stacks of paper invoices to approve them. I knew we needed a better way to handle accounts payable in our department.”

“Everyone recognized the advantage once they saw how quickly they could process an invoice. It used to take three days for the full process from input to payment. Once we moved to BankTEL and people also realized they could submit an expense report and have it approved and paid the same day, they loved it. And I knew I wanted to go with BankTEL because I was familiar with the product and knew how well it works,” she explains.

To Operationalize the Back Office as a Center for Scalability & Strategic Growth

The professionals in the accounting department at Austin Bank are busy, even as previously manual AP tasks are now automated. The difference between their day-to-day, now, and their workload before automation, is that employees are able to spend more of their time contributing to strategic growth objectives.

Transitioning to automation had an immediate impact on daily operations at Austin Bank, enabling everyone in the accounting department to contribute to value-adding initiatives. CFO Sandy Rayburn points to how efficiently her department runs and how few people are required within the AP department, even as Austin Bank regularly processes over 1,600 invoices a month.

“The whole time I’ve been here at Austin Bank, we’ve had the same number of people in our accounting department. I finally received permission to add staff, not because we were behind, but rather because we kind of struggled with the workload if we ever have more than one person out in our department,” Rayburn says.

AP automation also proved to be valuable when hiring and training new branch managers.

“There was some work in the beginning getting people set up, but since that initial set up in 2016, any time we have a new branch manager, they are so quick to pick it up, and whoever is training them will have been using it for a long time, and they just show them how simple it is. It has really made it a lot easier on us because the people out there using it are training them, so we don’t even have to do much, if any training on it.”

To Position the Bank for its Five to 10-Year Expansion Plans 

Austin Bank is in full-on growth mode and paying close attention to continuing to provide the exceptional customer service that has become the hallmark of their community-based approach to personal and business banking.

The bank has identified the key role of automation in streamlining AP workflow, freeing employees to focus on customer service and strategic growth opportunities for the bank.

CFO Sandy Rayburn points to how BankTEL and accounts payable automation has helped Austin Bank to scale with increased confidence and foresight.

“Since we’ve been with BankTEL, we’ve had the same number of staff processing our accounts payable, even though we’ve added three new branches,” Rayburn explains.

“Because of automation, we’re able to increase our capacity, without needing to add new staff. It has saved us so much time, and we look forward to being able to continue to grow the bank and to continue to use BankTEL to meet our needs for accounts payable and other areas.”

For a busy CFO overseeing the growth of a financial institution of the size and scope of Austin Bank, the ability to access all accounts payable data quickly and easily is imperative. For Sandy Rayburn, it is integral to the growth of the bank, allowing her to stay focused on the most strategic priorities, and giving her the peace of mind that any information she might need is available from anywhere, 24-7.

“One of the best features of BankTEL that makes my life easier is the fact that anything I need to know about accounts payable is there at my fingertips,” Rayburn says.

“So, if I need to look up the last time a vendor was paid, I can find that. If I’m working on an audit request list for the auditor, I have all of the documentation there in one place and I don’t have to go pulling it out of paper files or looking for it on a network drive.”

“Whenever I’m asked about BankTEL, I always say your team has always worked hard to improve the product. You always listen whenever we have feature requests. So, for a busy CFO with a lot of ideas, I think that’s just great,” she adds.

Contact us today to learn more about how some of the nation’s fastest-growing financial institutions are turning to BankTEL for accounts payable automation.