Universities are large, complex organisations with many varied income streams. An institution's approach to taking payments has historically been seen as a simple and straightforward function. However, there is an increasing drive across the sector for institutions to think more strategically about how their income collection service is meeting both the needs of the institution and the needs of the payer, now and in the future.
Why Is a Payment Strategy Important?
In a recent survey of UK university finance team members, 69% reported that they did not have a precise strategy for adding, maintaining or removing a payment method. If finance teams don’t have an agreed framework within which to make decisions about how they accept payments, operational efficiency and payer experience could be affected, and there is a greatly increased risk that the institution won’t be adequately protecting payment information and processes.
How To Develop a Payment Strategy?
Understand and Benchmark How You Are Currently Accepting and Securing Payments
The need to have a solid grasp of your institution’s current payment acceptance landscape is vital. By having a clear picture of your current income streams and payment methods, you can start to analyse the costs and benefits of the different payment types, enabling you to better meet the needs of your payers, uncover hidden efficiencies and evidence the cost savings that could be achieved by changing the channel and/or method of payment.
Identify and Prioritise Your Strategic Drivers
Developing an understanding of your institution’s (or at the very least your department's) strategic drivers, and how they relate to payments, is essential if you’re going to be able to confidently assess what you’ve got in place and make recommendations for the future. For example, if student experience is a key goal for the institution, understanding the demographic of your payers is crucial in order to understand what payment methods they expect and prefer. Or if a priority is to use resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, having a clear appreciation of how staff time and effort contributes to the overall cost of different payment methods and channels is vital.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Payment Strategy to the Institution?
Within higher education institutions, finance is often seen as a support function, which means that the finance team may find themselves being brought late into a situation requiring an income collection solution. They may therefore find themselves unable to advise on the most appropriate solution to meet the needs of both the institution and the payer, which could result in the institution failing to meet their payers’ expectations, operating inefficiently, grappling with unexpected transaction costs and potentially not protecting personal information (including card data). A Payment Strategy can help finance to better communicate to business users why the institution accepts payments in the way that they do, and the rationale for a particular payment process and/or method. Once established the institution is more likely to involve finance, at the optimal time, to advise and guide in situations that require an income collection solution.
How Can We Help?
Our Consultants can work with you on an annual or ad hoc basis to help you to define and communicate your goals and plans around accepting and securing payments. A benchmarking analysis helps you to evaluate your approach to taking and securing payments against best practice, and then in-depth reviews and workshops are designed to look across your payment processes, including areas such as payment acceptance, payment security, anti-money laundering (AML), and credit control and debt recovery.