A quick scan of the morning headlines reveals that work and business conditions are changing rapidly and unpredictably for businesses and their employees. Abrupt sales declines, credit concerns, and supply chain disruptions are pervasive. Some businesses are experiencing a shocking spike in growth and demand, while many others – especially small and midsize (SMB) firms – are in a period of unprecedented crisis.
Regardless of where your business falls on this continuum, business resiliency is crucial to navigating our current challenges and building a better future – with cash flow and liquidity at the heart of it. The longer you can extend your liquidity runway, the better you can weather the storm, keep employees paid (or hire more to meet unexpected demand), and take advantage of one-time revenue opportunities.
So how can you maximise cash flow and liquidity? Some of the most important steps you can take include:
- Better controlling and realigning spend – including employee spend, which for most SMBs is the second largest line item after payroll
- Cutting costs – especially unnecessary discretionary spending
- Proactively managing cash flow – for example, by taking advantage of early payment discounts offered by vendors
- Ensuring compliance with your latest company spend policies – which may be evolving rapidly in response to uncertain business conditions
As explored in a new study by AMI-Partners, sponsored by the SAP Concur organisation, achieving all of this requires moving from manual to automated travel, expense, and vendor invoice management. Automation can capture and centralise more complete, accurate spend data in near-real time. Once you have this data, you can use it to make better business decisions and keep your business on track.
Automation can also lower operational costs. AMI-Partners' survey found that companies still relying on manual spend management processes face costs that extend far beyond simply higher “costs per” expense report or invoice paid. For example:
- 67% lack visibility into cash flow
- 59% lack integration with budgets
- 66% experience incomplete documentation (for example, through lost receipts and invoices)
- 65% experience delayed reporting of expenses
- 59% emphasized it was challenging to manage invoices from non-qualified vendors
- 57% encountered duplicate data entries in accuracies
- 55% indicated it was difficult to track spending behaviour (which by default, makes it harder to manage spend)
Adopting an automated spend management solution changes everything because companies:
- Gain visibility into company spending data through consolidated views of cash flow spend and integrations across business processes
- Can stay compliant with internal and external regulations by reducing out-of-policy submissions and improving detection of inaccurate submissions
- Achieve significant time and cost savings by improving employee productivity (for example, free up time for strategic work) and reducing the risk of misplaced reports during audits
- Can finally integrate spend with budgets so that line-of-business executives can proactively – and more closely – manage budgets and finance leaders can take more control of total company spend
- Can put in place clear, effective spend management policies and enforce them effortlessly through intelligent automation and as transactions occur – in real time – before it’s too late to stop transactions and irrevocable payments
The business benefits of managing travel, expense, and vendor invoice spend in a holistic, integrated way are vast. When AMI-Partners asked SMBs about the before-and-after business impacts of deploying an automated spend management solution for discretionary spending, they found that:
- 54% reported improved compliance within industry regulations
- 64% reported time savings due to better efficiency as a top benefit
- The weekly time savings after implementing an automated expense management solution ranges from 104 hours (with a non-SAP Concur solution) to 122 hours (with SAP Concur solutions for travel and expense management).
- The weekly time savings after implementing an automated vendor invoice management solution ranged from 104 hours (with a non-SAP Concur solution) to 148 hours (with the Concur Invoice solution)
- 69% reported they were better able to respond to business challenges due to improved visibility into their company’s spend data
As you face today’s uncertainties and challenges, know that you don’t have to do it in the blind when it comes to the discretionary employee spend impacting your cash flow. With automated, integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solutions, you can gain total control and transparency – and adjust things to optimise how and where money is spent. It’s the easiest, lowest-risk way to extend your liquidity runway.