There’s a Hole in My Data! The Finance Gaps that Automation Can Plug

Spreadsheets and paper processes are the cornerstones of many financial processes. I’m sure you have a few in your business. And for good reason. They give you an audit trail of sorts – documented evidence for every penny of spend.


But it also means there’s a lot of paper-shuffling going on that’s a drain on everyone’s time. Worst of all, it can create blind spots in your data.


Chances are you think of these blind spots as a fact of life. After all, 81% of finance leaders say they don’t have complete visibility over their travel, expense and invoice spend, so it really isn’t just you.


You’ve heard it for a while now – automation can help eliminate these blind spots by giving you greater visibility while making everyone more productive. But how does it work in reality? Let’s take a look.


You get control over the second biggest area of expenditure

Travel and expense is typically the second largest controllable item on a business’s finance books. It means you need to know about this spend as early as possible if you want to manage it efficiently.


Starting with travel, the sooner you can capture future travel arrangements upfront, the more prepared you will be to budget and anticipate associated expenses. Products like Concur TripLink get travel spend into the system at the time trips are booked, which means you know about it sooner rather than later.


At the same time, Concur Expense allows employees to scan receipts and submit claims on the go so you’ll know about them as they happen rather than when the pile of receipts lands on your desk much later.


You get to pay suppliers on time and accrue for the spend more quickly

Almost 80% of companies admit to paying supplier invoices late.


Concur Invoice uses OCR technology to reduce invoice capture times by up to 75%. Businesses that use purchase orders can streamline their invoice matching meaning that up to 45% of their processing can be touchless. System reports mean you can see how long each stage of the process takes, making it easy to identify and resolve bottlenecks. It all speeds up payment times, improves productivity and frees you up to focus on more strategic activities.


Your policies are maintained and your costs are more accurate

We found that 60% of finance leaders aren’t confident that employees comply with company T&E policies. It’s a problem when you want to control your costs and it’s a bigger problem when HMRC comes to audit.


True automation means having your travel and expense policies built in so that out-of-policy spend is flagged up at the time of booking. We recently worked with a customer who reported that the percentage of their approved expenses that were out of policy reduced from 15% to 1%.


Your VAT return is a breeze

Reclaiming VAT manually is a time-consuming chore. There’s also every chance you’ll miss reclaimable expenses because you don’t have complete data. When you automate the process, everything changes. Current VAT rules are automatically applied to expense types so you can be confident you are always reclaiming the right amount.


Banishing those blind spots

In 2017, SAP Concur solutions helped customers process nearly 124.6m expense claims and more than 58.7m travel bookings, pay more than 22.7m suppliers and undertake more than 13m audits. It means we’re able to see just how effective automation is in helping businesses to capture data more effectively, reinforce policies and rules and – ultimately – get better visibility into their numbers.


The information in this blog came from a recent webinar we held – The Top Blind Spots Hiding in Your Finance Data. For more insights, you can listen to it in full here.


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