A cooperation arrangement with terrific prospects – Thoralf Beyer on digital invoice processing and the Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform
The trend towards digital workflows is increasing – in all areas. That is hardly surprising, as digitising workflows results in increased security and efficiency, as well as cost and labour savings. In particular, areas that rely on high security standards, such as finance departments, often have to spend a disproportionate amount of time on quite simple workflows in order to comply with these standards. Here, digitisation offers many opportunities to map workflows more quickly while maintaining security or even increasing it thanks to automated workflows and pre-configured security settings. For this reason, PROMOS is expanding its solution portfolio so that real estate companies can also benefit from digitised payment transactions. Large companies such as TAG Immobilien AG or GEBAG Duisburg have long relied on digital invoice processing. In future, the Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform (AEPP) will also be mapped in the app. Chief Sales Officer of PROMOS Thoralf Beyer explains in an interview exactly what this will look like and what advantages it will bring for both companies and tenants.
IT&I: PROMOS has been working with Aareal Bank for some time and now wants to strengthen this cooperation. What is the primary goal of the cooperation between PROMOS and Aareal Bank?
Thoralf Beyer: PROMOS is a 360-degree provider. We want to enable our customers to handle all business workflows in one system. This also includes financial workflows, such as collecting rent or paying utility bills. As an established, successful bank with a focus on the real estate and housing industry, Aareal Bank is an ideal partner for us, and one with whom we have worked in the past. For example, we have worked together with customers to implement BK01, Aareal Bank’s solution for virtual accounts. Now we would like to intensify this cooperation, as many interesting enhancements have been added to BK01. We also want to digitise further business workflows in order to make the resulting workflow advantages available to our customers.
IT&I: What projects has PROMOS carried out in cooperation with Aareal Bank so far?
Beyer: First and foremost, the customer BK01 process plays a major role. Virtual account numbers are assigned to the leases, which makes rent collection much easier due to workflow optimisations. Many of our customers use this process very successfully together with Aareal Bank’s SAP® plug-in. There are also some new solutions that optimise invoice processing, for example. We have also already established the vendor BK01 process for the payment of utility bills for some of our customers.
IT&I: That sounds very exciting and presumably has many other advantages for customers.
Beyer: Yes, housing and real estate management is, after all, very complex and, in addition, there is often a large number of properties to manage. Therefore, suitable tools can significantly increase efficiency. Whether it’s regular rent collection or utility bills, with digital solutions, real estate companies benefit from workflow advantages and automated features that save them a great deal of time.
IT&I: PROMOS will now offer its customers digital invoice processing in cooperation with Aareal Bank. What workflow does it map?
Beyer: Invoices must always find the right account assignment object. In the area of utility statements in particular, this is often a time-consuming workflow, as the correct allocation has to take place manually. Digital invoice processing speeds up and simplifies this workflow. The digitisation of the workflow is the great advantage here, and this does not simply mean that the invoices are available in digital form. Of course, it is pleasant when invoices no longer pile up on the desk in paper form. However, the main purpose of digitisation is to find the right invoice account assignment. This saves an enormous amount of time and avoids errors.
IT&I: To what extent is the solution linked to the SAP® system?
Beyer: There are plug-ins for the SAP® system from Aareal Bank and First Financials, which were developed together with SAP. This means that the solutions are of a very high quality. They are installed as add-ons in the SAP® system. Customers benefit from the high-quality programme code and the professional SAP® support. After all, every company is quite different in terms of charts of accounts or property and settlement structures within utility statements. Here, the solution is adapted so that it works optimally for each company.
IT&I: Another interesting solution that PROMOS will be introducing is the Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform (AEPP). What functions does it offer?
Beyer: The platform can map payment transactions in a wide variety of ways. These include, on the one hand, the classic bank transfer or direct debit. These payment methods are mapped with the BK01 function. On the other hand, there are now other forms of payment, ranging from cash deposits to payments via credit card or the use of payment service providers such as PayPal. Real estate companies want to offer their customers a wide range of payment options, and the platform can make this possible for them. At the same time, the allocation of the customer account must of course be fast and accurate. AEPP covers all these areas, whether it’s rental payments, the booking of common areas or guest apartments. The payment of additional apartment services, such as a laundry service, can also be handled via the platform. The great added value here is the deep integration of the platform into the SAP® system. The account or the items are found automatically. This results in fewer overdue payments, higher customer satisfaction and significant efficiency gains.
IT&I: So both tenants and companies benefit from a digital payment process?
Beyer: Yes, absolutely. On the one hand, there is the BK01 process, where the tenant has a classic account number that is clearly allocated to a contract. The text in the transfer form does not have to be filled in and the transfer is automatically allocated, which is in itself easier and more convenient for the person making the payment. With the new payment procedures via the AEPP, it is possible to pay quickly via credit card or PayPal, even while on the move. The tenants therefore benefit from a reduction in effort and greater flexibility. Particularly if they do not have a German account, because they do not yet live in Germany, for example, this is a great advantage for them, as this payment option works well across national borders. Of course, the highest security precautions are taken for these payment transactions.
If tenants have the option to pay quickly and easily, this in turn makes it more likely for companies to receive payments reliably and on time. When a payment process is as convenient as possible, it helps ensure that payments are made quickly and securely. Correct allocation and processing efficiency also contribute to greater transparency. It is possible to track at any time when and to whom transfers have been made.
IT&I: So there are many advantages for both sides. How do these new functions facilitate the everyday work of employees in real estate companies?
Beyer: From an organisational point of view, many tasks are eliminated because manual allocation is no longer necessary. In addition, transfer and allocation errors are avoided. In this way, manual post-processing is almost completely eliminated.
IT&I: That sounds like the payment method of the future. What will PROMOS focus on in the future with regard to digital payment workflows?
Beyer: We attach a lot of importance to the term “workflow”. We want to produce a workflow that is as streamlined and efficient as possible, which takes the pressure off our customers as well as our customers’ employees. A simple, error-free payment workflow can only be beneficial for all sides. This is just one topic in the big world of digitisation, but it is an important building block that represents a mass process for our customers and, if mapped correctly, generates a high level of satisfaction. And that is the beauty of it, because satisfied customers are ultimately our goal.
IT&I: That’s great! Thank you for the interview.
Beyer: A pleasure.