How to Streamline Your High Cost Finance & Accounting Department

Almost every company has an internal finance or accounting department that shares a common business problem – they are faced with repetitive and paper-heavy manual processes, especially for accounts receivable and accounts payable. According to the Aberdeen Group, the average cost for a company to process an invoice is $15.61 and it takes 9.7 days. Manual intervention is the primary factor driving up costs, and as a result, every business is looking to streamline paper processes in favor of faster and more automated digital processes.

What is the ROI of Process Automation?

In an AIIM survey, respondents reported a 29% average reduction in operational costs after implementing Business Process Automation (BPA) to their AP processes. By combining the Aberdeen Group and AIIM averages, here is an example of the cost savings a company can receive by automating accounts payable processes:

The best part is that the figures above do not even include all potential savings. There are additional savings for early payment discounts, reduced auditing time, etc. For those companies that have not automated manual paper-based processes, the time to change is now – before you continue wasting money on simple, repetitive tasks.

The Challenges of Pre-packaged Process Automation Software

A number of companies already engage in business process automation by using pre-packaged solutions. Because they use separate applications for different functions, such as billing, travel and expense management, they end up having to integrate multiple software applications. Unfortunately, these separate systems frequently do not integrate well with one another and are prone to errors that increase the need for manual intervention, causing bottlenecks and delays. As a result, many companies find that pre-packaged solutions don’t always meet their unique business requirements.

The second problem companies find is that the software is not easy or intuitive to use, and this increases the amount of time spent on manual intervention.  With labor costs accounting for 62% of total AP costs, this can get expensive. Additionally, inefficient automation makes it so that manual intervention is required to keep the process moving between systems, which increases the likelihood of human error.  Taken together, these factors significantly decrease the cost savings derived from pre-packaged process automation solutions.

Finally, many companies find that pre-packaged solutions are not very flexible, and often come with a limited set of functions. This makes it incredibly difficult to adapt a business to the processes required by the software, especially since accounting departments deal with numerous processes, including travel and expense management, journal entries, billing and month-end book closing (just to name a few examples). In the end, many companies find that these pre-packaged applications don’t always meet their unique business requirements.

This infographic from shows some of the ways that RPA and BPA can be used to make business operations quicker and easier.

The Benefits of Custom Process Automation

Custom business process automation software can automate everything from PO review and approval to automated digital invoicing.  By selecting a custom business process automation solution, companies can ensure that all of their processes, current bottlenecks, software integrations and specific process needs will be taken into account. Here are some of the benefits of custom process automation:

  • Save money – Many companies experience an ROI of only a few months!

  • Faster processing – A custom integration eliminates bottlenecks and time-consuming manual intervention.

  • Reduce human error – Automated processing reduces input and comparison errors to ensure a faster, more accurate process that virtually eliminates the risk of manual errors.

  • Seamless integration – By connecting accounts receivable and accounts payable tasks with tools that seamlessly integrate with the existing ERP systems and accounting programs, companies reduce the amount of manual intervention thereby saving time, reducing costs and virtually eliminating the risk of manual errors.

  • Customized reports – Many organizations struggle with the canned reports that come with most software applications. These reports only cover the most common functions and customizing the reports is usually difficult and time-consuming. With custom reporting, businesses can be assured that they will have simple, custom reports that meet their needs.

In fact, many companies that buy packaged solutions seek out BPA specialists like Deep Core Data. After struggling for a while, they often discover the need for an experienced BPA integrator to customize the processes and reports for the packaged solutions. While this can help improve the process, it does not come close to the ease and depth of integration that can be achieved with a custom solution.

Questions to ask when considering process automation

Automation can provide many benefits, from reducing errors to cost savings. There are a number of critical questions when considering process automation:

  1. What is the right breadth of automation for your organization? Do you want to automate billing, expenses, or digitize invoices with OCR that can read, compare POs and automatically schedule the invoice for payment? The most important part is to discover where the bottlenecks are in your business and invest in processes that will add the most value.
  2. What are the ROI and potential cost savings for your organization? You should get a quote for process automation and compare it to your manual process costs, including labor.
  3. How many manual errors and lost or delayed paper approval errors are you experiencing? How are these delays impacting the efficiency of your staff and your department?

Deep Core Data designs custom business process automation solutions that take into account the unique needs of your business. We customize solutions that fit your business and process rather than forcing you to adapt your business to a one-size-fits-all solution. This results in a business automation process that is designed to maximize the value of your people, process and data.

For a limited time, we are offering a free process review consultation – we will examine your processes to identify bottlenecks and recommend a solution that fits your unique needs. There is no obligation and you will have a better idea of the needs, benefits and cost of a process automation solution for your business. Please contact us if you have any questions.

2017-09-29T10:35:15-04:00September 21st, 2017|Automation, Business Practices|

About the Author:

Andrew is a technical writer for Deep Core Data. He has been writing creatively for 10 years, and has a strong background in graphic design. He enjoys reading blogs about the quirks and foibles of technology, gadgetry, and writing tips.

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