Go with the flow

Four top tips to improve your cashflow.

Cashflow is the lifeblood of many business’s operations. However, SMEs can struggle to achieve enough visibility into spending to maximise it. Too many SMEs are losing money due to preventable, mismanaged manual finance processes. Businesses can enhance cashflow by improving visibility into expenditure and invoices, and using automated technologies.

Manual paper processes cost SMEs money because staff take longer to perform paper-based tasks, and company funds are far too often used to chase up missing documents, replace damaged files or pay late-payment fees. Finance automation significantly speeds up payment and billing processes, letting staff focus on more meaningful work, and saving money. It lets information flow more freely and accurately, saving organisations time while delivering the insights they need to better manage spend.

“Businesses can enhance cashflow by improving visibility into expenditure and invoices, and using automated technologies.”

There are four ways finance automation can help improve cashflow.

1. Real-time visibility

Gaining real-time visibility into where finances are can help smooth out peaks and troughs in cashflow. Automated expense processes can also help by making it easier for employees to submit expense claims and for the business to reimburse them. This prevents end-of-month expense spikes and gives businesses a more realistic view of how much is being spent, by whom, where and on what.

2. Standard reports

Organisations require regular reports to make smart decisions. Automating the process of generating these reports lets finance managers spend more time analysing data and less time searching for it. This means managers will also be more likely to find opportunities for cost savings and growth.

3. Transparency

For many organisations, a glimpse into the cashflow situation requires effort and takes time. With finance automation, managers can instantly see the information they need. They can also share that information and gain important insights, which makes it easier to see exactly what’s happening across the business. For example, this transparency might reveal just how much the organisation is spending with a key supplier, providing valuable negotiating power when it comes to future discounts. Meanwhile, not having to manually run reports gives managers more time for face-to-face meetings, which can help uncover new areas for improvement.

4. Empowerment

Finance automation frees up staff members to focus on more interesting aspects of their work, which helps them feel more empowered and engaged. Employees can then dedicate more effort to their organisations’ innovation and growth.

A strong cashflow is a sign that a business is well run and in good shape, and it’s important organisations proactively manage this. However, it’s impossible to measure something that’s not clearly visible, so organisations need to start by getting reliable, real-time access to all the information they require so they can start making better cashflow decisions. The result will be easy to measure, as it will likely positively impact the bottom line.

Fabian Calle, general manager – SMB, SAP Concur ANZ

This story first appeared in issue 25 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine.

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