Payments through Outlook could revolutionize procurement
- Microsoft announced a partnership with payment processors Braintree and Stripe Monday to allow individuals to make payments through Outlook, PYMNTS.com reported.
- In the new system, "businesses that send bills or invoice notifications to customers over email can now embed a payment action within Outlook," according to the Microsoft blog post.
- This new system can help companies stay on top of payments to suppliers and vice versa, accelerating the procurement process.
I am from the generation where the company receptionist kept a "petty cash" box in her desk. It held $50 or $100 for miscellaneous trips to the hardware store, post office, or for gas for the owner’s car.
Well, the petty cash box is now a museum piece. And come to think about it, I don’t see too many receptionists these days, replaced by a lonely telephone with an out of date phone list or a security guard quickly sizing up the threat potential of visitors.
I am not a yearning for the old days, but embracing leading edge financial services that will help to streamline accounts payable and allow supply chain managers to focus on real problems, not chasing receipts or admonishing requisitioners who exceed their purchasing authority.
That genie left the bottle a long time ago.
Procurement cards were the start of the decoupling of strong control of procurement and finance in companies. Sure there were some issues around account reconciliation — and I did have one engineer who bought personal stereo equipment with it when his own cards were tapped out — but these cards eliminated the need for purchase orders for lower cost purchases, or my involvement in them.
But while I liked not having to establish accounts with new suppliers, or place the order myself with an existing supplier, the procurement function did lose control over some sourcing decisions. Yet that sting of loss of control went away as I was called to manage higher-level issues. I call that a good trade-off and I haven’t looked back.
In our private lives we pay our bills online or through automatic debits. We buy our groceries with debit or credit cards and carry very little cash. I do write the occasional check for solitary bills but that is because I am too lazy to pull out my credit card. Then and then, I feel guilty for not getting reward points.
So if payments from Outlook will free me from managing virtual petty cash, so much the better. We can use all of the help we can get. Liberating, isn’t it?