Article
Payments

Updating payment reconciliation: when is the timing just right?

These days, most online merchants know the benefits of payment gateways. They improve customer service, protect your customers’ data, and manage issues like chargebacks and insufficient funds. In fact, it’s becoming almost impossible to process online payments effectively without the right payment gateway. 

Neeraja Viswanathan
4 min read
November 15, 2022

Timing is everything. Especially when it comes to change. 

These days, most online merchants know the benefits of payment gateways. They improve customer service, protect your customers’ data, and manage issues like chargebacks and insufficient funds. In fact, it’s becoming almost impossible to process online payments effectively without the right payment gateway. 

However, with that said, you need to be prepared to have a solution for the problems that payment gateway software causes in your payment reconciliation process. For example, maybe your web store transactions live in a different system than your ERP. So even if you’re able to sync the systems, you run into other questions, such as:

  • Are all the orders properly transferring from my web server to my ERP?
  • Are all those orders being accurately paid out by my payment service provider?
  • And what kind of fees does that service incur?
  • How can I track an individual transaction that has already been paid out and reconciled?

In an ideal world, you probably want to find solutions for these questions the minute they arise–or, preferably, even before any of these complications occur. 

But that isn’t always possible. Why?

Because a payment service provider is one of the first elements online businesses install. And that means you’re probably going to run into payment processing problems almost immediately. So even though your payment reconciliation system is showing signs of strain, you have to time your changes and upgrades carefully, before the tipping point.

Because if you make those changes too early, you could find yourself bogged down with training and implementation on features that your team has no need for yet–if at all.

But wait too long and you might already be struggling with pretty expensive mistakes that require all your resources and a lot of panicked scrambling to fix.

So how do you know where that tipping point is? What factors indicate that it’s the best time to change your payment reconciliation process?

Well, there are a couple of things to consider.

One is when your focus is clearly shifting from go-to-market to a more forward-thinking strategy. You’re now at that stage where you need access to order-level details, sales per day or week, or details of which products were sold. 

In other words, it’s not enough just to monitor the end-of-the day lump sum from payment gateway reports. What you need now is organized, real-time transactional data to make those decisions.

And if the data you want isn’t available or is full of discrepancies, or too difficult to access to find because it’s all located in different systems, that’s a sure sign that your payment reconciliation process isn’t cutting it anymore and that immediate changes are necessary.

The second factor to look out for is that despite company growth, too many accounting tasks are still being done manually. Sure, the payments are being reconciled, but it’s a tedious process that takes hours because it’s still being done on Excel spreadsheets.Your payment processing methods are just not scaling with your business, and the only thing that’s growing is the backlog of other projects that your accounting team never seems to be able to get to. 

Adding a new link to your workflow chain is almost definitely going to come with its challenges. But red flags could indicate it’s the right time to upgrade your payment reconciliation process. Automating your payment reconciliation process is just the first step. You need long-term solutions that work for future issues as well as the current payment reconciliation problems you’re facing. That might mean anything from creating or implementing a new payment tracking workflow, further consolidating your payment reconciliation methods, analyzing your current and future staffing needs or implementing a new training curriculum.

It’s not always easy to hit that sweet spot between making changes too early (and slowing down growth) or too late (when problems are already causing chaos). But if you’re alert and ready for change, you can minimize any reconciliation issues that your payment gateway might be causing.

And that means more than avoiding future problems. It means you’re setting up a system of operational efficiency and accurate forecasting that can support future improvements for your financial team.  

It’s the difference between coping with trouble and speeding towards more growth. 

And who doesn’t want growth?

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