In a recent Proformative webinar, sponsored by Concur, SMB Group’s Laurie McCabe spoke of trends affecting SMBs and why now is the time to rethink company strategy to thrive in changing times. Financial automation technology can be an important part of such a strategic plan. New research from Forrester shows small and medium-size businesses see expense management automation as key in their strategy.
Expenses and cash flow
A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Concur “SMB’s Drive growth and Innovation when they embrace the Full Power of T&E Solutions” indicates that nearly two thirds of the SMB financial leaders surveyed picked “managing expenses/cash flow” as their top financial challenge. The study says “With limited bandwidth, SMB financial leaders recognize the need to improve their overall T&E processes in order to enable employees to track expenses more efficiently.”
Errors and time
In a bit more detail, Forrester found that SMB’s “Key T&E challenges focus on user-induced errors and long time requirements.” Smaller businesses (from 1-499 employees) called out the time requirements for paperwork and approvals as their top challenge. That was important for larger businesses in the sample (500-999 employees) but they gave a small edge to the high number of inaccuracies caused by the human element.
In what the SMBs surveyed consider to be the most important benefits of T&E solutions their priority – improved process efficiency – is markedly different from Enterprise organizations, which are more likely to emphasize “more accurate reporting…for real time expense tracking.” The study notes that ‘SMB organizations have far fewer employees to manage or business departments to reconcile” so that difference makes sense. Since many of them are still using paper to track expenses about two-thirds of the SMBs surveyed are either updating their T&E system now, or plan to do so in the next half-year.
The Forrester study notes that new investments in T&E systems only pay off if those systems are easy for employees to use. If so, the workers are more likely to buy in. That implies certain capabilities, including: A mobile app so users can submit and approve from anytime, anywhere; a way to automate T&E and vendor invoicing from a single solution and faster reimbursement times to head off employee frustration. The SMBs saw all three of these attributes as improving compliance with rules and policies.
But user friendliness is only half the picture. Forrester found seamless integration with the HR and finance systems that SMBs already have is critical, and the technology SMBs are thinking about here is the Cloud. More than three-quarters of the SMB companies surveyed are either using now or plan to use soon cloud apps. That’s because they can roll out important systems faster, like finance, T&E and Accounts Payable. Among the things they’re looking for systems to be able to do are “Accurate reporting through data consolidation and analytics” and “Improved visibility into and access to data.” In these areas, paper simply can’t compete with, or compare to digital and cloud systems.
Adding it all up
These improvements in the tools for handling T&E add up to: less time spent on expense reporting; lower spending and fewer complications and errors. And what business, large or small, couldn’t use all that?
To get more details, and Forrester’s key recommendations Download the full Forrester study: “SMBs Drive Growth and Innovation When They Embrace the Full Power of T&E Solutions”. And to see more about how automating T&E and vendor invoices can transform your business, visit http://www.concur.com/en-us/small-business