Monday, April 26, 2010

P-Card Conference Wrap-Up

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Steven Putney, a partner with PayTech International, provides his thoughts on the 11th Annual National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals’ (NAPCP) conference held in Orlando:

Over 600 purchasing card payment industry professionals gathered April 18-21, 2010 at the 11th Annual NAPCP Conference in Orlando. Representing a broad span of private and public-sector organizations, they convened to discuss topics that ranged from best practices and technology developments to legislative changes affecting the purchasing card industry.

For purchasing card professionals, staying current on industry changes is critical to playing an effective role in the management of their organizations. The conference provided excellent opportunities for attendees to gain insights on a wide variety of topics and network with peers, industry providers and purchasing program experts.

This year, the program offered five different tracks that focused on important aspects of purchasing card programs:

• Building the foundations of a successful program: What factors and considerations are paramount to ensuring that purchasing card programs achieve their objectives?
• Effective program management: How do you monitor your program, manage strategies and insure compliance?
• Optimization strategies: How can you increase program effectiveness and use new technologies to simplify transaction management?
• Industry overviews: What are the important trends in the technology, economics and legal arenas that are shaping purchasing card programs?
• Professional development: How can you increase your knowledge and effectiveness?

The rapid convergence of purchasing cards with the overall AP strategy at large corporations and public- sector organizations was a theme heard across many sessions. Case studies were shared in breakout sessions on how to increase control over purchases, identify opportunities for savings and ensure corporate compliance--all essential to a successful purchasing and AP strategy.

New enhanced technology platforms (originally developed to support only purchasing card transactions) were demonstrated that have added functionality to integrate deeper into the organization’s workflow processes and accounting systems and support a full range of electronic payment types. These platforms can facilitate a convergence across AP, and potentially help organizations consolidate multiple vendors down to one.

Another topic that received a great deal of attention at the conference was how to successfully expand payment programs internationally. Multi-national corporations and public-sector organizations must identify and address significant variation in key areas across different regions of the world. Areas of consideration for multi-national programs include cultural differences, commercial credit availability, legal & regulatory issues, availability of data and tax compliance challenges.

The conference provided a unique opportunity to mingle with peers and industry experts and gain a perspective on opportunities to improve existing programs and plan for the future.

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