In the past year, the business world has been shaken in unpredictable ways.
Many businesses suffered lost sales from mandates to shut down for periods of time or customers staying home voluntarily. Other businesses experienced a sudden boost in demand for their products and services, which required quickly shifting resources to meet the demand.Wherever your business falls on this spectrum,the changes have been jarring.As you look to the future in your own business—both near and far—how can you prepare for what’s next when there’s no way to know what’s around the corner?
The Positive Side of Accelerated Change
As businesses rushed to adapt to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation was accelerated, office employees were rushed into remote work, and businesses scrambled to provide frontline workers with protective equipment and upgraded cleaning. Some industries adjusted their delivery models. Others shifted their manufacturing lines to create safety items like masks and hand sanitizer or found their previously under-the-radar products in high demand from consumers stuck at home.
While the initial whirlwind of change has calmed, it’s unknown how long these new modes of business will remain or what the resulting economic times will bring.What is certain is that not all of these changes are negative and not all businesses should“lose” in an economic downturn.
Consider these benefits:
• Businesses that used to have buzzing offices are finding that remote work is increasing job satisfaction and employee availability, while decreasing overhead costs.
• The hyper acceleration of digital transformation needed to support remote work and business agility helped kick start changes that were already on the horizon.
• Business processes are under greater scrutiny. It’s easy to ignore inefficient tasks when they’ve become habits. But when those habits are upset by disruption like the sudden, complete shift to remote work, time-worn processes – like tracking items on spreadsheets and entering data manually – become more onerous and even impossible to complete from home.
While a pandemic such as COVID-19 may only occur once a century, every year can bring unexpected change, from weather events that disrupt supply chains to recessions to more mundane but no less important issues like new regulatory requirements. Creating processes that can withstand the chaos of 2020 can strengthen your business for 2021 and beyond.
Now Is the Time to Focus on Finance
In the past year, it’s likely that your business has already started to minimise paper-based processes and increase cloud-accessible technology to help employees get their jobs done from home. The need to update processes became apparent when employees tried to process invoices that were left at the office, weren’t sure how to submit expenses for home-office equipment, or had to submit expenses after losing receipts in the move.
These inefficiencies stack up. If processes are delayed and you don’t know what expenses are coming and how to manage them, you may reactively pay whatever invoices and expenses cross your desk. That makes it tough to reduce costs when budgets are tight, or invest effectively when it’s time to grow. Moving from reactive to proactive cash management lets you funnel resources wherever they are needed, whenever you need to. It gives your business the agility it needs to withstand constant change.
Now is the time to increase the value of digital transformation by focusing on how you manage expense reports and supplier invoices. By putting solutions in place to take charge of spending, you can tackle uncertainty, bounce back stronger, and be more prepared for whatever comes your way.
Digitally transforming expense and supplier invoice management can help bring:
• Efficient, automated processes and access for employees and managers, wherever they are working. With more employees working from home, inefficient processes for managing your spend – like entering expense and invoice data by hand, searching for and reconciling paper receipts and invoices, and chasing down approvals with reminder emails and phone calls –aren’t just low-value work; these processes slow down your business. Intelligent technology that minimises manual processes, digitises and consolidates spend data, and automates tasks like invoice reconciliation and approval reminders allows more work to get done in less time. It increases employee happiness by reducing timeconsuming tasks, providing mobile and cloud access to the expense and budget information they need, and providing employees with more time to focus on more interesting work. And, perhaps most importantly, it helps your business adjust or scale without adding overhead.
• Better cost and budget control. With intelligent technology and simplified processes, expense report and invoice data can be up to date, more accurate, and connected. With connected data, you can take how you manage company spend to the next level. Apply automatic controls and audit rules to help managers avoid going over budget, rein in costs, and increase policy and regulatory compliance. By automating invoice capture, approval, and payments, you can streamline processes and shorten the invoice cycle, which helps minimise late charges and end-of-the-month invoice surprises.
• The visibility you need for quicker, smarter decisions. Once your expense and invoice data resides in a single technology solution, you will gain the insights you need to truly understand where money is being spent. With the ability to organise data by category, supplier, cost centre, team, employee, and more, you can shift budgets as needed, find savings opportunities, and guide individual spending choices. Near real-time spend analytics give you the power to make the best decisions for the business, whether you’re tightening budgets or investing in growth.
Are you confident you’re currently tracking these expenses?
• Mileage expenses
• Remote work expenses
• Cash vs. card spend
• COVID-19-related expenses
• Invoices that come in via post, email, and supplier networks
• Purchase orders
Finding the Right Partner for Your Digital Finance Transformation
Deciding to digitise your finance functions is just the first step.You need a trusted technology partner that can help meet your goals for digitisation and bring the most value to your company – today and tomorrow, no matter what changes the future brings. Look for a partner that…