Bringing Innovation, Efficiency and Accuracy to AP Function in School Districts
Revenue Share Helps Retain Teaching Positions, Operations
BROKEN ARROW PUBLIC SCHOOLS | BROKEN ARROW, OKLAHOMA
In the past 14 years, the finance department for Broken Arrow Public Schools hasn’t experienced a “normal” funding year. The school district serves more than 19,000 students and 2,000 employees and its budget is supported by property taxes, and like many other school districts nationwide, fluctuating state funding.
“The uncertainty of our annual budget is one reason the district is always looking for ways to reduce costs and create efficiencies,” said Natalie Eneff, Chief Financial Officer for Broken Arrow Public Schools.
In 2017, they found one such solution with CommercePayments™ Payment Hub.
Automating AP, Creating Time and Expense Efficiencies
The district’s finance department could process anywhere from 1,200-7,500 invoices each week. In some cases, it was paying vendors directly upon delivery of goods or services, which typically isn’t an accounts payable (AP) best practice. The team has had to hand-key and manually print up to 300 checks due to lost or missed checks during regular payment printing runs.
To address these time-consuming and expensive tasks, finance department leaders turned to CommercePayments™ Payment Hub. This online, secure platform enabled the systematic upload of invoices from vendors and made electronic payments via ACH and AP Card in addition to check or wire transfers. This paperless process paid vendors faster – in their preferred payment method – and significantly reduced the amount of administrative work on the staff. Payment Hub also helped ensure accurate accounting.
“Through this automation, we reduced the reconciliation process by 75%. It also provided us with better internal controls,” said Cathy Mitchem, Executive Director of Finance for Broken Arrow Public Schools.
Generating Revenue, Bridging Budget Shortfalls
A significant advantage of using the AP Card function in Payment Hub is the opportunity to generate revenue. Upon enrolling vendors in its virtual card program, CommercePayments™ processed their payments and generated revenue share that was given back to the school district.
“Since implementing payments through the AP Card in 2017, the Broken Arrow Public Schools has generated nearly $320,000,” said Mitchem. “These funds have helped maintain several teaching positions and operations during the years there were state funding gaps.”
An added advantage of revenue share is that it’s considered a local source of funding so it isn’t counted against the district in the state’s funding formula.
Reducing Fraud, Safekeeping Taxpayer Money
“As trustees of taxpayer’s money and government funding, it’s important for us to maintain vigilant oversight in our AP practices,” said Eneff. “This automation helps ensure accurate and transparent accounting for the district.”
Payment Hub maintains all vendor preferred payment types, manages vendor information, facilitates payments and creates a reconciliation file back to the district’s existing systems. This streamlined approach helps reduce fraud risks associated with lost or stolen checks, and greatly improves the auditing process.
Innovating Processes, Engaging Staff
The finance staff is also realizing benefits of using the innovative AP solution. They are engaged and empowered by learning new technologies that make them more skilled in their jobs. Rather than spending time on repetitive and tedious tasks, they are able to expedite payments and take a more proactive role in oversight.
“Exposing our staff to new technology helps them learn new finance skills so it’s a good professional development opportunity for them,” said Eneff. “We’re retaining staff and the added efficiencies have eliminated the need for additional department employees.”
“The Board of Education and senior leadership team for Broken Arrow Public Schools is extremely happy with the partnership we’ve established with CommercePayments™.”
Chief Financial Officer, Broken Arrow Public Schools
“CommercePayments™ is helping drive innovation within our finance department.”
Executive Director of Finance, Broken Arrow Public Schools.