Manual and spreadsheet-driven processes are costly and inefficient at any scale, not just for big businesses. In fact, given the resource constraints of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it’s likely that the inherent inefficiencies of manual processes have an even bigger impact on the efficiency and growth goals of smaller firms. Your SMB can’t just “throw more bodies” at a cumbersome task the way larger enterprises can because there may not be anyone else available to absorb more work – at least not without a serious impact on another business area.
Take finance tasks that every growing business needs to deal with: travel, expense, and invoice management. Studies show that 26% use spreadsheets to manage their expenses. And 49% of small businesses continue to use handwritten records to track, manage, and analyse spend. It should come as no surprise, then, that:
- On average, accounting and finance staff spend 14% of their time each week processing invoices – more than five hours per accounting or finance employee per week
- 50% of SMBs say that manual processes hinder visibility into cash flow, increasing the risk fraudulent or unqualified spending
- 42% of SMBs report errors in reconciling invoices
- 75% of finance leaders say their business often exceeds expense, travel, and invoice budgets
In the era of cloud computing, where even the smallest business can affordably access targeted, world-class software geared for small and medium-sized businesses, why not automate travel, expense, and invoice management to improve process efficiency – and unlock greater spend visibility, focus, and control?
What’s your answer?
We often hear why SMBs haven’t automated, and the reasons typically fall into one of the following four categories:
Category 1: “It’s just not a priority. We’re good with the status quo.”
These customers tend to put off investment in automation by saying things like, “Our people wear too many hats to focus on making a change.” “There’s already a backlog of IT projects.” “Our culture and leadership resist change.” Or, “We don't want to do too much too soon – before the business is ready.” But they probably don’t realise just how much the status quo is actually costing them, as noted above.
Category 2: “I don’t believe we’ll actually realise monetary return on the investment.”
These customers tend to tell us, “Our manual processes are ‘free’ because we don’t pay for software.” And, “Our AP workload and travel volume aren’t big enough to deliver enough ROI to make it worth the investment.” But most likely, they haven’t looked at the data on ROI. For example, according to AMI-Partners, SMBs are achieving significant cost reductions with automated spending solutions:
- £31,000 – Average annual savings with automated travel and expense management solutions
- £18 – Average saved per expense report
- £33,000 – Average annual savings with automated invoicing solutions
- £10 – Average savings per invoice after implementing an invoicing solution
Category 3: “We’re already automated.”
These customers tell us that, “We’ve already implemented partial automation. It’s not ‘smart,’ but it’s enough for us.” Or they worry that, “Our people will struggle to fully adopt the features of a bigger, more powerful solution.” So, they get by with the status quo, when they could use automation to empower their people to do more with less. For example, accounting and finance teams see an average time savings of 15% after adopting travel and expense automation solutions, as well as time savings of 16%. These savings alone can potentially save hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
Category 4: “The change management required is just too much.”
These customers tell us that, “We’ll have to change too many internal processes at once.” Or, “It makes sense, but it will be too hard to communicate the process changes to our internal partners, even if they know it is the best option for the company.” In other cases, they are concerned that their people won’t like it, so they won’t adopt it. Or they fear that the new software won’t integrate with their ERP. But by choosing the right cloud solution, all of these concerns are mitigated. Look for solutions that can be deployed incrementally over time, are natively integrated with most ERP solutions (and with each other), and are easy to roll out and use. They should be complete with mobile apps that employees will love and intuitively be able to use, just like any other consumer software.
Do any of these statements ring true for your organisation? It’s time to let go of the status quo and embrace the power of intelligent automation. For example, SAP Concur solutions automate and integrate travel and expense and vendor invoice processing from beginning to end, eliminating inefficient methods that take too much time, cost too much money, and keep you in the office – so you can keep things moving. With SAP Concur solutions, you’ll give everyone more time in their day, while preventing costly mistakes, fraud, and surprise expenses. You’ll get a clear, near-real-time view into what you’re spending, so you can proactively control it and improve planning, accruals, and cash flow.