MainStreet Bank Streamlines AP in Disruptive Times With ASCEND and AvidPay

Automating AP with BankTEL helped the $1.2B bank save time, eliminate inefficiencies and avoid late payments, even when COVID-19 hit close to home.

With: Diana Marroquin, an Accounting Assistant at MainStreet Bank

MainStreet Bank is a community bank headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, serving seven branches in the northern part of the state, with a new location opening soon in Washington, D.C.

While the $1.2B bank offers its customers the latest technology for secure online and mobile banking, MainStreet Bank is committed to remaining a community bank, providing friendly service along with easy, local access to bank representatives and decision makers.

The Challenge

As a growing community bank actively expanding locations in northern Virginia and the surrounding areas, MainStreet Bank recognized a need to simplify and streamline their AP processes; maximize departmental productivity; and manage vendors, payments and approvals more efficiently.

Diana Marroquin is an accounting assistant in MainStreet Bank’s six-person AP department. She pointed to paper-heavy, manual AP workflow as a primary pain point that continually cost her team precious time, and hampered their ability to utilize their time and energy toward more strategic ends.

MainStreet Bank’s objective was to automate AP processes and update payment methods to:

  • Eliminate time-consuming, manual processes and maximize productivity
  • Simplify end-of-month reconciliation, compliance and tax/expense reporting
  • Streamline invoice management, approval workflow and payments processes
  • Allow AP professionals to focus on customer service and business growth

The Solution

MainStreet Bank first adopted BankTEL solutions in 2015 and made the transition to the fully integrated web platform in early 2020. The conversion to a fully automated AP workflow and bill payment software solution has eliminated many of the redundant tasks that prevented this small AP department from achieving optimal efficiency and productivity.

Now, with AvidInvoice and AvidPay in place, MainStreet Bank is able to streamline and simplify the entire AP process, from receiving invoices and making fast and secure payments to easily creating custom workflows with 24/7 visibility into payment status, approvals and the GL.

The transition not only made an immediate impact on the AP team’s productivity and peace of mind, but also provided a critical safeguard for the bank when unprecedented disruption took hold in March of 2020.

Streamlining AP & Eliminating Back-Office Inefficiencies

Prior to transitioning to BankTEL’s payment processing solutions, the AP team at MainStreet Bank was using Excel spreadsheets to manage invoices and purchase orders, and to track approvals and payment status.

“In terms of payments, there were a lot of manual processes,” Marroquin explains. “Having to track down the history for each vendor, and the information for tax reporting purposes and expense reports was a nightmare. Needing to have someone fill out a report of all the details for payment and approval, it was tough. Tracking fixed assets on spreadsheets was also a lot of extra work. BankTEL has made the entire process easier.”

Marroquin has been with MainStreet Bank for five years and witnessed firsthand how her department has been able to increase efficiency and maximize productivity since the move to fully automated AP in early 2020.

Automation has also eliminated inefficiencies tied to internal expense reporting for the bank. “Expense reports used to be a big challenge — getting people to enter each charge individually, upload statements and receipts, and turn them in by the deadline was very difficult,” Marroquin says.

“Now, with BankTEL, I can download the company statement, assign to each individual user, and they just have to go in and add a description along with anything they may need to attach. That has made the expense report process much smoother, and helps me make sure that everyone submits accurately and on time.”

Simplified Invoicing, Payments & Approval Workflow  

Beyond helping vendors get paid quickly and easily, MainStreet Bank saw the value of streamlining the entire AP workflow. Marroquin describes how redundant, manual processes were taking too much time and causing strain for an already busy AP team.

“Before working with BankTEL and using AvidPay, end-of-month reconciliation, financial reporting, and getting payments moved through the process for approval took a lot of time and effort,” says Marroquin.

Paper-heavy AP workflow was stifling her team’s ability to keep up with daily demands, and also meant that MainStreet Bank was unnecessarily expending both financial and human resources on time-consuming, manual processes.

“It took a good part of my day, just getting checks written, signed and mailed. Then, dealing with checks or invoices that are not received — that takes so much time, and is so stressful,” she says.

“With AvidPay, I can just put in my approval processes, set the workflow up for easy approvals, and I have a record that keeps auditors happy. I can just process, upload to AvidPay, and get back to my reconciliation. Also, everyone gets to see whatever they need to see in real time. I don’t have to worry about the payment being made because it has already been coded, routed and approved. And then, when the auditor comes in, I have an approval record.”

Fully Integrated Vendor Portal

One of MainStreet Bank’s primary objectives in converting to automated AP was to bring greater organization to the process of managing vendor data. According to Marroquin, the easy-to-use vendor portal saves her team valuable time.

“Making a change within the vendor portal is so simple. You just set up the vendor and assign a workflow, including their individual payment preferences, which they can update in real-time. I love that because, at the end of the year, it’s typically such a rush to get all of your vendors up-to-date and to make sure all of their information is correct. We don’t have that extra workload or stress now.”

The vendor portal also made it easier for MainStreet Bank to provide timely relief to smaller vendors requesting early payment due to the financial strain brought on by COVID-19.

“Right now, during these unprecedented times, I get emails from vendors saying, ‘I just finished this job, and I’m so sorry to ask, but I really need the money. Can you expedite our payment?’ I’m able to easily say, yes, let’s just get this approved and get you paid,” Marroquin explains.

“Within the vendor portal, the vendor has entered the invoice number, amount, and description. All I’m doing is creating an invoice and assigning it to the approving officer. They approve it within minutes, or an hour at most, and it gets processed. I can go through so many more invoices, which frees up more time for more people, and helps smaller vendors who really need the funds to get paid even more quickly,” she says.

A Safeguard Against Unforeseen Disruption

BankTEL’s automated payments solutions were key to weathering the pandemic for MainStreet Bank, and were essential when an approving officer contracted the virus and was out of the office for weeks. With BankTEL’s automated AP solutions, MainStreet Bank did not miss a single vendor payment or have any issues getting vendors paid on time.

“We now realize how being able to do things remotely and having a backup plan is so important,” Marroquin says. “The automation of the workflow and approval processes was so helpful.”

“With BankTEL products like AvidPay, not having to be in the office and relying on the mail to get payments processed, not having to follow up with stop payments — this was all critical because payment volume and workload had increased. BankTEL has made it a world easier to get those little, but important, things that take up so much of our time off of our plates.”

Ready to see how automating AP can help your FI streamline workflow, save time, and eliminate inefficiency? Request a demo to find out how BankTEL can help.