Preparing for better times
There is a glimmer of light on the horizon, welcoming the inevitability of the new post-vaccination dawn and the new world order that awaits us.
Today, whilst we can, there is no better time to prepare our businesses so that we can maximise all of the commercial opportunities that follow every downturn.
A different world
We have all learned both the advantages and disadvantages of remote working.
Almost all of us want the ability to do both, splitting our week in line with our preferences and commercial practicalities.
So much so that we would seriously consider changing our job for the flexibility, the monetary savings on commuting costs, but most of all, the additional free time it offers to do what matters most to each of us.
Whilst there is still financial uncertainty, what can senior finance managers do today to prepare their businesses for the good times that we know are coming?
The first step is to start thinking about how you can make a real difference to everyone outside of the finance department!
How can you reduce the bureaucracy, make the complex and tedious simple, provide real time information that makes a real difference, save their time, and reduce their costs?
Best of all, can you achieve all that whilst simultaneously gaining much greater fiscal control and delivering financial transparency for everyone in the business that needs to know?
The answer is accounts payable and purchasing automation – designed for the whole business
You could start by removing all of the paper invoices and make invoice approvals simple and easy from any device, anytime, anywhere.
It will save between 65% - 90% of the time this currently consumes in manual bureaucracy.
Real time spend information to everyone that needs to know
Accounts Payable automation gives instant access to the spend information for every supplier, every invoice, and every line item to everyone that needs to know, not just for the invoices being processed, but for every historical invoice, including their payment status.
Not only would this stop all the continual interruptions from internal queries (wasting everyone’s time), it also enables people to use historic spend information to check pricing on what they need today, whether from existing suppliers or their competitors to reduce costs.
Buy more online
Better still, every business should buy much more online – and everyone outside of finance will be delighted by the decision.
It is faster, more convenient, offers a wider choice and is almost always cheaper, delivered when you want it and where you need it.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it is how to get the best value buying online for ourselves.
Integrated online buying within an accounts payable automation project makes this both possible and practical – with one additional huge advantage.
It enables finance to control spend on every order before it has been placed and then automates almost all of the accounting processes of invoice capture, match, GL coding and approvals.
If you use budgets, the benefits to the budget holders are even greater.
Every budget holder can see exactly where they are in real time, not based on cash accounting within their spreadsheets (that never reconcile with the management accounts), but pulled in real time from the accounting software, then adds the committed and accrued spend from transactions in process.
Budget holders can also create “soft commitment” place holders for future spend, instantly seeing the impact on available budget and optimise both HOW and WHEN that spend takes place to deliver the maximum value whilst staying within budget.
Bottom line, it enables budget holders to save a huge amount of time running their spreadsheets, enabling them to plan better and become stronger financial managers to the benefit of themselves and the business.
Finance is not an island
Every business proposition invariably leads with saving time and saving money and this is no different at that basic level.
What is fundamentally different is finance’s old-school bureaucratic and manual processes are inhibiting and hindering the rest of the business, both in the time wasted that should be spent on more important work and the total lack of the real time information that would enable those of us outside finance to do a better job.
Wherever we may be, whenever we need it.
Next generation senior financial managers
The days of “information is power providing I have it and you don’t” are being consigned to history as digitally enabled financial managers ring the changes.
The old excuses of people outside finance being incapable of making good financial decisions is a direct reflection of being forced to work in the dark.
Deliver them real time information about their spend and their budgets and they will become much stronger financial managers, achieving more, often with less.
If finance wants better visibility and better controls over spend, then start the process based on how you can help the rest of the business, because when you do, everyone uses the software all of the time and finance gets everything they want from automation by default and the business achieves a great deal more.