How SMEs can use automation to reduce cashflow stress

automating, automated processes, accounts payable, automate

Building business resilience starts with a deep understanding of spend management. When change happens, it can uncover supply chain weaknesses, which puts stress on cashflows. The global pandemic put supply chain disruption and reliance on business leaders’ radars. In the past year, some businesses managed to shift their operations and supply chain needs in response to restrictions and lockdowns, and are emerging out the other side thanks to automation.

The fast shift to remote working revealed that true business resilience needs to have data connected and automated across multiple finance functions. It also highlighted that key spend management capabilities depend on the extent to which businesses empowered employees with mobile apps and tools. These workforces were able to embrace the transition much more smoothly than companies that still relied on manual expense submission processes.

As businesses aim to become more resilient, it’s vital to understand the role of expenses and how they affect cashflow. Automated and integrated travel, expense management and accounts payable processes deliver both clarity and control on business expenditure. Enhancing business spend control with this management solution is an easy and foolproof way of expanding business liquidity and, therefore, building business resilience.

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a perfect time for SMEs to review spend processes, particularly in the following key areas.

  1. Automated spend management
    Manual processes and legacy systems need a lot attention to perform routine transactions. It makes spend management difficult and leads to other challenges, such as decreased spend visibility, weak spend compliance, greater transaction costs and slower cycle times. Automating spend management presents strategic, operational, and financial benefits including better risk management, higher mobility, increased spend compliance, and greater process efficiency.
  2. Connected spend data
    Being data-driven with connected spend data helps businesses make smarter decisions. Data leads the decision-making with facts and figures, rather than unproven assumptions. With spend management analytics, the causes and effects of all past actions and spending can be seen. This can result in stronger strategic choices.
  3. Near real-time spend visibility
    Real-time data promises procurement access to all structured and unstructured information that is up to date and relevant. With access to real-time visibility into company spending, businesses are better placed to catch small problems before they become big difficulties, and make wiser spending decisions that drive spend efficiencies.
  4. Intelligence to control spend
    Modern spend control helps finance teams evaluate company expenses and fit them into forecasts and budgets effectively. Digital technologies such as automation, real-time data management, and analytics let teams streamline purchasing processes, develop more strategic supplier relations, and gain full control over company spend.
  5. Mobile-enabled employees who can work from anywhere
    With many businesses establishing a remote work environment, it’s important to gain visibility and control to proactively handle employee spend, especially when operating on tighter margins. Without access to the office to manage supplier invoices and employee expense reports, some organisations may find it challenging to get a clear picture of where spending is going and where it could be saved.
  6. Versatile solutions backed by expert service and support
    During times of rapid change, it’s important to have expert service and support on new processes. Businesses must determine the balance between addressing immediate issues and maintaining long-term organisational goals. In the current volatile economic environment, SMEs should consider using low-cost, cloud-based solutions to save resource costs, improve process efficiencies, drive innovation, and protect the bottom line.

Building business resilience through spend management optimisation is an important business tool. Now is the time to assess what it takes to ensure finance processes are robust and resilient enough to tackle whatever the future holds.