Start Your Digital Transformation Journey with Finance Automation
Digital transformation does not happen overnight. It’s a journey that businesses take one step at a time. The key is determining which steps to take in order to make the most of every moment.
Your organization may already have implemented some digital tools that are helping you run better. But to make the most of those investments, you need a long-term digital strategy that will allow you to maintain momentum and flexibility well into the future.
A good launching point is finance automation.
To help you take this critical step with confidence, senior analyst at Analysys Mason Joseph Bertran and SAP Concur solutions consultant Matt Clark teamed up on a recent webcast. The first thing they want you to remember is that digital transformation is a continual process. As your business evolves, so must the technologies you use to support it. For example, despite having a core ERP or finance system in place, you may still be using manual paper- and e-mail-based processes for travel, expense, and vendor invoice management. Automating these processes will make them simpler, faster, and more accurate and will give you the data you need to better control cash flow and discover opportunities to save or grow.
In fact, a recent study by Analysys Mason and commissioned by SAP Concur, a business unit of SAP offers insight into why and how businesses like yours are thinking about finance automation. Surveys were conducted with finance and IT leaders in seven countries across four continents to discover how the shifting business landscape is impacting decision-making around travel, expense, and vendor invoice management.
In the United States and Canada, more than 60% of respondents saw their revenue increase in 2021 as compared to 2020. Nearly 90% are also expecting to hire more employees. More than 50% of U.S. companies and more than 40% of Canadian ones want to add new domestic locations – and more than 50% from both countries believe that the expectation of flexible work will be the new normal.
As for the challenges ahead, U.S. respondents put technology investment and protecting against cyber threats at the top of the list. For Canadians, it was growing the business while controlling spending and improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. To address such issues, finance and IT leaders in both countries are looking for solutions that will help them to automate and integrate processes and operations across lines of business to contain costs, boost efficiency, improve employee satisfaction, and make it possible to manage IT systems remotely from the cloud.
Some of the factors driving this move included incomplete documentation, mundane tasks that detract from strategic work, and delayed expense reporting. Time wasted on dealing with audits due to noncompliance was another top issue for U.S. firms, with Canadian firms also citing overall fraud and risk management. Canadian firms complained of submission and approval of nonqualified expenses, and U.S. respondents reported dealing with invoices from nonqualified vendors. Difficulty tracking spending trends, a lack of timely financial reporting, and a lack of visibility into cash flow were additional problems.
From an employee experience perspective, time-consuming manual workflows for expense and invoice management were a major source of frustration, as was manual expense report submission. Basically, any processing that slows work down and creates room for fraud and error proved detrimental to employee morale.
Since automating their spend management, survey respondents have seen significant improvements. In the United States and Canada:
- 68%–77% say an automated travel and expense solution improves responses to business challenges, thanks to improved visibility of company spend data
- 73%–78% say an automated travel and expense solution helps reduce time spent on administrative tasks, allowing employees to focus on growth and strategic planning
- 70%–76% are seeing greater cost savings due to better ROI from travel, expense, and vendor invoice management solutions
So, how can you get started on achieving the same results for your business?
First, evaluate your current level of automation to identify where you are still using paper, e-mail, scanners, and spreadsheets. Then examine your reporting and analytics and determine whether you have the visibility you need right when you need it. Also, consider whether all your systems are integrated. Furthermore, ask whether your people can work from anywhere – at home or from a mobile device on the go.
You can then conduct an audit to determine which finance automation improvement is the top priority and should be tackled first. Depending on your business, it may be travel and expense reporting, invoice capture, categorization, processing, or reimbursements to employees and suppliers. Whatever the case, this will give you the information you need to make a finance automation plan and get all your internal stakeholders on board.
Last, but certainly not least, you will need to choose a trusted finance automation technology vendor to help implement your plan. This is where we come in. Worldwide, businesses using a travel and/or expense solution are seeing an average, estimated savings of US$52,000 annually and businesses using a vendor invoice management solution are seeing an average, estimated savings of US$44,000 annually.