Information Services

Problematic Payments: Improved Checking of Payments

The second part of automating University finances has been to improve the checking of invalid payments with an exciting new application.

In collaboration with the finance department, Information Services have implemented two main processes to reduce workload on relevant staff and by extension improve customer service. The checking of the validity of payments described in this article is the second automation finance process, the first of which, about automating incoming invoice emails, can be found here: Finance Flows: University Invoice Email Automation.

University payments, and recurrent payment plans such as direct debit mandates, are handled by an external company, who then electronically pass those details to the University. In the past, when there was an issue with a payment, the Accounts Receivable teams had to manually track down the problem and look in multiple system logs, stopping the payment from being submitted. Because this process was automated, issues were sometimes missed until the customer raised them.

Problematic payments

In order to improve both customer service and reduce unnecessary tracking time for staff, Information Services have implemented a Python-based application to track and log all such payments, and to notify the Accounts Receivable team when a problematic payment has been submitted. The situation is now real-time, freeing up resources and time to improve productivity for Finance and their communications with other departments will become more efficient, impacting many areas across the University. The Finance teams are very pleased with the increased efficiency and are suggesting ways that the system could be enhanced to improve support even further.

In the past, issues related to payments and mandates were only identified when customers would contact us or at the point when we would start our payment run process. Being able to identify any issues up front allows us to address them in a timely manner and provide a greater customer service standard…Finance now have a daily task to review ATM [Automated Transaction Management] outputs, this process only takes a couple of minutes each day. If any errors are identified, they are easily resolved here and there and the majority do not need to be escalated to Finance Systems, which saves going back and forth with another team. The resolution is almost instant, whereas before it would have taken hours, if not days.

Souvina GrozierFinance

Find out more about Finance at the University.