Automating Finance Processes to Get Ahead as an SME

automated finance

Ryan Demaray, SMB EMEA at SAP Concur

The last year has proven to be an unpredictable and challenging time for small businesses. They have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, with a recent survey estimating that Covid-19 will cost small business owners an average of £11,799 each. In an effort to aid their survival, many have had to temporarily close, reduce the size of their workforce or put the majority of their staff on furlough.

With many small businesses facing a reduced workforce, they need solutions that streamline operations to continue operating efficiently. Technologies such as automation really help with this, as they can take away time previously spent on manual tasks. Examples of this include expense and invoice automation, which can both provide many benefits to small businesses by taking away traditionally manual processes and giving finance teams time to focus on value-adding activities.

This article will explore the three main benefits of invoice and expense automation for smaller businesses.


Invoice Automation for Cashflow Visibility

During an economic downturn, it is more important than ever for small businesses to know what money is coming in and out of their company accounts. This visibility enables them to budget for the short and long term, as well as make better projections about profitability. Recent research from SAP Concur found that 18% of SMEs are finding cashflow visibility more difficult under lockdown. This can present real difficulties for small businesses that are already facing many challenges.

One common obstacle of cashflow visibility is inaccurate data. A manual invoice system involves filling out spreadsheets, which means that inaccuracies are inevitable. These inaccuracies lead to errors, rework, late fees, and missed savings that eat up a finance team’s day while negatively impacting a businesses’ bottom line.

Through invoice automation, you are able to streamline your finance and accounting processing by making sure the data inputted is correct and that payments are processed in time, resulting in avoidance of payment delays, calls from suppliers querying about invoice payment timescales and vital staff time responding to these.


Simplified Expense Management

When organisations manage expenses manually, it can take a toll on everything from productivity to employee satisfaction. By upgrading to software that automates expense management, businesses of all types and sizes can streamline operations, cut costs, and reduce tasks that waste time and cause frustration. 

Businesses using manual processes to manage expenses miss out on valuable data about how much is being spent and by who. Automation enables finance teams to see where every penny goes, which means bills and reimbursements are paid on time, errors and fraud are eliminated, and business decisions are based on accurate spend data. This is particularly beneficial during an economic downturn, where every investment matters to an SME.


Supporting employee engagement

The experience of employees impacts their work outcomes. If an employee is engaged and happy, they will be more productive and less likely to leave an organisation. For these reasons, it is vital that businesses provide the best employee experience possible. This can be a challenge for SMEs, but automation is a great way for them to crack it. By removing the more mundane tasks, automation allows employees to spend more time doing the more high-value work that they enjoy.

When it comes to invoice and expenses, automation saves countless hours of employee time that would previously be spent navigating manual processes. Automating both expenses and invoices leads to less errors, more timely employee reimbursements, and less paperwork for employees. All these lead to a better employee experience and a more highly-engaged workforce.


Preparing for the future

The digital era is upon us and it is time for SMEs to implement an invoice and expense system fit for the modern age. Not only will it help benefit your bottom line, it will create positive staff experiences and efficiencies, that help truly optimise your business – now and in the future.