If skilled employees have more time, they can focus on more value-added work.
That’s one of the reasons why around 80% of maritime businesses are currently looking for solutions that allow them to streamline and scale complex and time-consuming operations. And there are few as time-consuming as disbursement accounting (DA).
We’ve compiled this quick guide to help you choose the right DA platform for your business.
1. Has your potential partner proven that their DA platform can positively impact your business?
According to PWC, around 31% of global businesses still rely heavily on paper-based processes and could benefit from automation, but digitalising and getting rid of paper from your DA process is only one of the benefits.
The best DA platforms will use a mix of AI, other tech, and human specialists to conduct a series of checks on every DA to identify savings in your PDAs and FDAs.
They will also reduce your company’s risks by conducting compliance checks before making payments to your agents (see section 4 below).
2. Does your potential partner have the “human touch”?
A few things here:
- A good disbursement accounting system will never be 100% automated. DA management is an involved process, so the best will always also have an experienced team on hand to deal with exceptions.
- Your team will use the new platform daily… so is it easy to use?
- Has your intended partner gone the extra mile to map and understand your existing DA process and demonstrate the financial and operational upsides of the change?
- Strategic? Ensuring that a disbursement accounting partner can support your broader, strategic goals is vital. A good partner will understand your departmental objectives to ensure you are getting the most value from your solution and are moving consistently toward your broader business goals.
- Has your potential partner demonstrated success with similar customers?
- Do they have a proven track record and consistent presence in the market?
- How can they support you to mitigate risks and what insurance do they have in place?
Finally, ultimate company ownership of your chosen partner will be a consideration when you get to the due diligence and procurement stage. An independent provider may be a better option as it will help to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
3. Security considerations
Data protection essentials
A good solution should safeguard your data and payment systems.
Query your partner on data management, protection against unauthorised access, procedures, data retention, and destruction policies.
Ensuring transactional security
Payment processes are susceptible to risks. Guarantee that your solution provides bank-grade security and conducts checks to shield you from fraud, legal exposure, and unnecessary FX exposure. Don’t ignore the benefits that a multi-banking payment infrastructure can contribute to your business.
4. Enhance compliance
With so many financial regulations to navigate, a competent service provider can help you ensure full compliance.
Given the shifting regulatory landscape, a solution that performs diligent and comprehensive checks and provides real-time updates is essential.
“Being publicly linked with a sanction-breaking activity by the press or some other public communication can be extremely damaging.
“The Group has seen examples of vessels declined access to ports, refusal of banking services, and removal from Flag Registries in response to unsubstantiated allegations of sanctions breaking.” – The International Group of P&I Clubs
Non-compliance with sanctions and Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) regulations carries heavy penalties and is ever-changing: according to Deloitte, around 1,000 names are added to the US Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List annually.
Read our checklist: The best questions to ask when choosing a disbursement accounting solution
5. The onboarding process
Once you have a solution in mind, it’s time to ensure that integrating it into your ongoing business will be a smooth process.
Onboarding a DA solution requires seamless technical integration and ample support & training to ensure smooth workflow.
Future-proofing is vital, especially for unexpected events.
Integration with popular VMSs like Veson, Danaos, ShipNet, or Glomaris should be straightforward. A detailed evaluation is necessary to ensure data security and compatibility if you employ a custom or in-house system.
Your partner must offer a structured setup process, including a test environment for mapping data fields. Following this, a production environment test will ensure ongoing stability. The partner should also offer comprehensive training and continuous support.
Make sure you understand how they will lead the process of mapping and setup and that they can provide a clear timeline for completion.
Training and onboarding
Every successful digital integration depends on robust training and enablement. Poor onboarding is the most common reason for failure in digital transformation projects.
Your partner of choice should be able to take you through how training is delivered, particularly if you have international or multilingual teams.
Customer support should be ongoing, and there should be follow-up sessions so that post-implementation feedback from your teams can be addressed.
6. Reporting suite
In terms of reporting, real-time access is vital with a dashboard and deep dive reports available; you’ll require fast access to data on payments, port expenditures, and account statements.
Your partner should be able to demonstrate how their solution is saving you money.
When choosing a DA solution, put emphasis on a few key points.
Your chosen system should check and validate DAs accurately, enhance compliance, remove paperwork, and save time and money.
The ideal partner should not merely provide software but also be a valuable supporter of your growth and success, with solid customer support to ensure you are supported before, during, and after implementation.
Read our checklist: The best questions to ask when choosing a disbursement accounting solution.