One of the easiest ways that small businesses can improve efficiency is by deploying automation throughout the business. By harnessing the power of automation tools, small business owners can streamline the process of daily tasks and gain greater visibility into their finances.
Even though the power of automation is well known (my colleague, Kevin Craig, wrote about the promise of automation and AI in a recent blog post), we’re still a long way from seeing universal adoption. In fact, a recent study by Concur on the state of Accounts Payable (AP) automation in Canada, found that only 12 per cent of Canadian businesses are entirely automated. On a more promising note, 46 per cent are currently in the process of automating their AP processes, and another one-third are planning to automate AP within the next two years.
The survey also found that most finance decision-makers are aware of AP automation (86%), yet there are still 14 per cent who were unfamiliar with the concept. These results indicate that financial decision makers are taking the right steps towards automation, but more work needs to be done. Small business owners especially should be taking automation seriously, and become more acquainted with the opportunities automation can bring to their business. The study found that the most pronounced benefits of AP automation include improved accuracy, reduced operating costs and reduced time spent on administrative tasks—all of which can have a real impact on how small businesses are able to function, and can make drastic improvements to their efficiency.
Finance decision makers estimate they could save on average 47 per cent of the time spent going through the payment cycle and 60 per cent of the time processing invoices per week if their invoice process was automated. On average, an finance team spends about 17.9 hours per week on processing an invoice manually. This time saved could be a huge asset as extra time can be allocated towards other areas of the business that truly need it.
Small businesses are often cash-strapped and need to have tighter control over cash-flow, so being able to have the visibility and predictive power that AP automation can provide will lead to significant transformations. For small business owners that can see benefits from even the smallest cost and time savings, these benefits result in big wins.
Brian Veloso is the Director of Small Business at Concur Canada.
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