Bank Independent Improves Productivity, Decreases Costs, and Easily Transitions to Telecommuting with AvidPay

With: Krystal Craig, Accountant and Pam Rutland, Senior Accounting Clerk

Bank Independent is headquartered in Sheffield, Alabama, serving over 30 locations throughout seven counties in the northwest region of the state. With an asset size of over $1.7B and the technology infrastructure to compete with the “big banks,” it remains deeply rooted in the communities it has served for the past seven decades, and sharply focused on fulfilling its mission to remain a strong and independent community bank in Northern Alabama.

THE CHALLENGE 

In 2019, Krystal Craig, Accountant, and Pam Rutland, Senior Accounting Clerk, realized the need to update time-consuming payment processes to maximize efficiencies and provide a more seamless payment process for their vendors. Outdated AP processes were consuming too much time, costing too much money, and diverting valuable AP professionals from other value-adding, strategic objectives.

 Their goal was to optimize AP processes and update payment methods:

  • To pay vendors quickly and easily
  • To maximize operational efficiencies and reduces costs
  • To facilitate better vendor relationship management
  • To implement strategic disaster recovery plans

THE SOLUTION

Bank Independent became a client of BankTEL in 2012 and migrated from the client to the web platform in 2018. Having already experienced how seamlessly the support team made the transition in 2018, they looked no further than BankTEL to help them automate their AP and payment processes. Bank Independent made the transition to AvidPay in early 2020.

Pam Rutland, who has been with Bank Independent for 20 years, recognized the impact of the move to automated AP immediately.

“Our process went from very time consuming, requiring several people and paying bills once a week to a new process with AvidPay that allows us to pay two and three times a week,” she says. “We only have two people that are involved in the process now and it only takes a few minutes to complete all tasks.” 

AVIDPAY EASES THE TRANSITION TO TELECOMMUTING

The transition to a fully automated payments solution has allowed Bank Independent to navigate the current realities of social distancing, including modified schedules and access in the branches, without missing a single payment to a vendor.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the bank initiated a business continuity plan and instituted protocols to protect their greatest assets: their team members.

According to Craig, “If we didn’t have AvidPay during this time, there would have to be two of us in the office or we would have to coordinate times for us to be there to handle all of the check processing. We would run a greater risk of cross-contaminating someone. We just wouldn’t be able to process checks the old way right now.”

IMPROVED EFFICIENCY & PRODUCTIVITY 

Bank Independent is committed to their mission of remaining a closely-held, strong and independent community bank, while also focusing on growth and innovation for their valued customer base in Alabama. Eliminating inefficient and paper-heavy AP processes has allowed their five-person accounting department to leverage their skill sets in the interest of more strategic objectives.

As a busy accountant in a department spending too much time processing payments, and specifically, cutting checks, Craig pointed to increased efficiencies and the ability to pay key vendors quickly.

“Not having to print checks if we choose not to, and being able to upload them to AvidPay, and AvidPay paying them through virtual card or a check for us, has helped us tremendously and allowed us to focus our attention on more productive tasks,” she says.

“We are now able to pay our prime vendors in a timelier fashion. Most of our vendors accept the virtual card option, which speeds up the payment process … In the case of AT&T, when you receive an invoice, you have five to seven days to get the payment approved, keyed in, and paid, so I would have to personally process those payments manually. Now we’re able to get those payments posted before the next invoice even prints. It went from taking 21 days for a payment to clear for AT&T, to five days.”

REDUCED COSTS

Utilizing AvidPay to make secure and fast payments has not only improved AP department efficiencies at Bank Independent, but also saves the bank money.

“Not only are we saving time cutting all of those checks and stamping, stuffing, and sending them out, but we’re also saving on stamp costs, envelope costs, check costs,” says Craig. “It has been a huge benefit to us. We’re processing multiple times every week, now. There are times when we process multiple times a day. This means we save money on hard costs and also free up our time to drive value for the bank in other ways.”

SUPPORT TEAM FACILITATES EASY MIGRATION & SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT 

It is important to Bank Independent to offer a seamless and efficient customer service experience to both their customers and their vendors. According to Rutland, implementing AvidPay to automate payments proved to be as easy as their transition to BankTEL’s automated workflow and approval processes in 2018.

“We’ve been BankTEL customers for seven years and we actually migrated from BankTEL’s client version to web version in 2018, and they were super helpful with that transition,” says Rutland. “When it came time to make the move to AvidXchange to fully update our payment methods and add the AvidPay option, they could not have made it easier. The whole process took less than three weeks and required less than three hours on our end.”

AvidPay facilitates a more sustainable approach to getting key vendors paid on-time and is mutually beneficial to both banks and vendors. Bank Independent cited the customer support team as a key benefit, not only during migration, but in direct outreach to vendors.

“We did not have a set process in place for reconciliation before AvidPay because there was no streamlined and easy way to do it. We relied on our vendors to say, hey a payment is due,” says Craig. “Now we can go into the BankTEL platform and track any payment we sent through AvidPay. And what is really awesome is that the AvidPay team supports us in every way. If a payment hasn’t cleared within a certain amount of days, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. They take care of that for us and reach out to the vendor to rectify everything on our behalf. The support has been invaluable.”

For Bank Independent, automating AP payments with AvidPay has helped the bank maximize efficiencies, reduce costs and improve vendor relationship management. Equally important, it has positioned the bank to be prepared in terms of risk mitigation and disaster recovery, both now and in the future.  

Hear Krystal Craig and Pam Rutland discuss how AvidPay has eased their workload and optimized AP for Bank Independent during a time of transition in this recorded webinar.

What Other Clients Are Saying

“We just had our first external audit with ASCEND. I scheduled a 30-minute sit-down with the auditor to look at specific items. This process would have taken about six hours before ASCEND. The auditor couldn’t get over how easy and accurate it was. She said at least 10 of her bank clients immediately came to mind, that should start using BankTEL. She took a stack of my cards, to give to the accountants at these banks, in case they wanted to call with questions.”

Nicole HulbertSeaside National Bank & Trust

“I’ve been through the conversion process to new software before, and it’s usually a nightmare. Nothing balances and nothing works. But with ASCEND, things balanced and things worked. It was a very easy move.”

Mendy CollierRegent Bank

“With BankTEL, everything was more streamlined, there was better reconcilement, better functionality and better security on the user-side of things. It was a major step up for us.”

Heath PrescottFarmers & Merchants Bank of South Carolina

“Banks deal with accounting every part of every day. It’s a core part of the business. To be able to maneuver through the system and have the detail of records, the tracking and reporting that are available at BankTEL, was long overdue. Ascend is leagues ahead of where we were previously.”

Tony AtecaSecurity Federal Bank

“One thing I like about BankTEL is that they always want to know what you want and how they can make their product better. They like to listen to customers.”

Lynn McKeeBankWest