How automation will future-proof SMEs

automating, automated processes, accounts payable, automate
Automation Software Technology Process System Business concept.

The global business landscape is changing more than ever before. Some businesses are just beginning to re-open their doors, while others have had to adapt to a vastly different environment in order to continue operations.

To thrive in this new business environment, SMEs need to become more resilient, scalable and agile. Automated technology, such as expense and invoice management, can ease the pressure for business owners and their staff, allowing them to increase efficiency and focus on core income-generating activities.

Automation is no longer exclusive to enterprise businesses. SMEs can now take advantage of automated cloud technologies that provide access to world-class, affordable tools that support business continuity.

There are six ways that expense automation can help future-proof SMEs:

1. Increases efficiency

Inefficiency is likely costing businesses much more than they realise. On top of reduced productivity, inefficiencies waste time and frustrate employees.

Adopting an automated expense management system means that businesses make processes more efficient by letting employees submit expense claims online, instantly. The system can prepopulate data from synchronised credit cards and extract information from booking confirmation emails, as well as process GST data. The system can also manage expenses, receipts and reporting for the business, giving business owners and employees time to focus on more value-adding tasks.

2. Enhances the employee experience

A cloud-based automated expense process can make employees’ lives much easier by saving them time and reducing their stress. Employees don’t have to worry about losing receipts, submitting receipts when working remotely, or the complexities of booking tickets. Additionally, cloud-based systems provide visibility to everyone involved, meaning employees can see what stage the payment process is at, and follow up with a suitable person if required.

3. Improves accuracy

An automated system instantly processes invoice and expense data, giving businesses access to real-time, accurate information. This reduces the risk of human input error, and reduces the time usually required for regular reporting or auditing. Additionally, an automated expense and invoice system improves the business’s ability to forecast and build effective strategies, while also ensuring that there are no surprises at tax time.

4. Provides control

Most employees try to do the right thing but even a small mistake can end up costing your business thousands of dollars. An automated system will flag instances where expenditure is outside of policy, and managers can authorise the expenses instantly and consistently, or return them for more information. This lets businesses control costs more effectively, allowing them to re-invest the savings in future stability and growth.

5. Supports businesses through change

Businesses and the landscape they operate in are constantly evolving. Manual processes that were effective five or 10 years ago are now seen as inefficient and are prone to bottlenecks. With expense automation software, employees can upload receipts and invoices, submit claims, and even approve claims on the go.

6. Ensures sustainability

Implementing the right processes now will help small businesses achieve future success. As businesses aim to create efficiencies in their operations or look forward to growth strategies, they need access to accurate, real-time data. An automated, cloud-based system lets businesses instantly access up-to-date information to provide visibility into what, where and how employees are spending. Business owners or finance teams can then use this data to forecast budget, spend and revenue, and find ways of reducing spend.

By building the right foundations, SMEs can optimise their business functions and set the basis for future success. By moving beyond the quick fixes, SMEs can use cloud-based automated tools to support them through periods of change.

Fabian Calle, General Manager – SMB, SAP Concur ANZ