Automation has become a business priority across several industries, with the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market expected to top£1.5 billion in worth by 2025. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only increased the focus on automation, especially in the financial sector.
As purse-strings tighten due to the pandemic’s impact on the market, the positive benefits of automation will continue to pay dividends for those companies that have invested in it.Research by Deloitte found that 68% of business leaders have implemented tech solutions to help their businesses deal with the economic consequences of COVID-19.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the full range of benefits that automation offers companies and finance professionals and the simple ways businesses can implement RPA.
Streamline workflow approval
Efficiency is always touted as one of the primary benefits of automation and its integration into financial systems. Automating workflow approvals give companies the ability to streamline their processes and reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks.
Manual expense submissions are notoriously labour-intensive and time-consuming for staff to submit and finance departments to process. The average expense claim takes20 minutes to process. This is particularly true if you are dealing with multiple non-interoperable platforms, numerous bank accounts, or still using pen and paper forms.
Expenses are also an area that is both prone to human error and in which those errors can be costly.One in every five expense reports is filed incorrectly or fraudulently, costing UK companies£374.3 million in the first half of 2020.
A more streamlined and connected automated workflow means staff can use mobile apps, desktops, and email accounts to capture, submit, and have expenses approved.
Invoice and purchase order processing are also vital but labour-intensive and data-driven processes that are prone to errors. The average invoice takes around25 days to process for a small-to-mid-sized company. The longer the processing time, the more invoice processing costs start to build up, with most invoices costing between £9 and £22.
Automating these tasks means companies can move skilled staff from repetitive, high-volume processes to higher-value tasks.
RPA also eliminates the risk of manual input error. Since RPA systems can run 24/7, vital business processes are no longer limited by differing time zones, working hours, or staff absence.
Lightyear’s automated line item extraction technology accurately extracts the details from emailed invoices, allowing them to be approved through a custom workflow. The computerised workflow approval then automatically allocates team members to specific approval tasks. Users can then export invoices to AccountsIQ. AccountsIQ’s full-featured Financial Management System (FMS) then handles any other complexities by using artificial intelligence and open APIs.
AccountsIQ’s automated processes can synchronise bank accounts automatically, generate electronic payments, auto-post electronic invoices and integrate front-end systems.
Furthermore, the recentChaser and AccountsIQ integration allows users to enhance credit control through automation for payment collection and reconciliation. The partnership has already been successful in improving cash flow and reducing business administration. Late payments are a growing source of stress for business owners, with a 209% increase in late payments recorded since the global pandemic (CPA, 2020). Chaser’s integration with AccountsIQ helps businesses to reduce these late payments, by making it easier and faster for business owners and finance teams to chase payments in a friendly, non-robotic manner. Not only do business owners improve their chances of getting paid on time, but through automating the invoice chasing process, they also see significant time-saving benefits.
Chaser’s automated system can be set to remind customers of an upcoming invoice, send them the invoice, send them scheduled reminders for payment and invite them to a personalised Payment Portal where they can make their payment. Automation also doesn’t have to mean alack of the human touch.
Chaser’s system is fully customisable to ensure all communications look like they come directly from you. Using Chaser means you enjoy the time and cost-saving benefits of automation while still building on the personal relationships you have with your customers.
The Chaser dashboard also collates all the vital accounting data both you and your customers need into one easy to access solution. Chaser users have access to a full suite of data reporting tools that they can use to generate insights that allow them to optimise and streamline their credit control processes.
When a customer is sent an invoice reminder from the Chaser dashboard, users can choose to include a link to their customer’s unique Payment Portal. The portal is viewable by both parties and includes all the required details and documentation to facilitate prompt payment.
In order to give our customers the most comprehensive number of payment options, the Payment Portal supports Stripe alongside traditional credit and debit card options.
Simply put, using Chaser’s automated credit control system allows users to reduce the time they spend chasing invoices, get paid faster and make the whole process more convenient for their customers.
Should payment not be forthcoming, Chaser’s innovative debt collections service allows customers to bypass the usual lengthy handover process and escalate cases to collections in just two clicks. Since all the payment data is stored in the Chaser software, it is automatically sent to the Chaser Collections team, further streamlining an already simple process.
Having the ability to accurately budget and forecast cash flow is particularly important to UK SMEs.Recent data has indicated that around 30 per cent of UK SMEs listed maintaining a consistent cash flow as their most significant business challenges.
Automation can assist companies in gaining greater visibility over their business’ performance. The main impediment in business data reporting is the sheer volume of data that needs to be processed.
Having skilled financial staff trawl through high-volume data is both time-consuming and expensive. RPA systems are uniquely well suited to processing vast amounts of data in a short time and quickly producing accurate reports.
As with many charities, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WCD) has a complicated tax reporting process. Their financial reports need to clearly differentiate between charitable activities and trading activities while supporting partial VAT.
The charity’s account also has to accord with the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). WCD also needed the ability to quickly effect a multi-dimensional analysis of their accounts using three separate Business Identifier (BI) codes related to a specific department, activity, and project
To make matters even more complicated, WCD was training a new finance manager with no charity experience and was doing all this during the pandemic. AccountsIQ’s FMS was able to overcome all these challenges. With the ability to create default settings unique to a business, WCD quickly brought its new finance manager up to speed and made data entry almost foolproof.
When it came to their trading activities, AccountsIQ allows sales invoices to be drawn up and sent in within a matter of minutes. As an international charity, WCD also used AccountsIQ’s ability to update exchange rates at the click of a button.
When it came to producing critical real-time financial reports, the use of electronic documents held in the AccountsIQ FMS negated the need for pen and paper copies. This hugely streamlined the process of finding vital records and audit preparation.
AccountsIQ General Ledger (GL) Explorer allows companies to generate Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets, Trial Balance, and Extended Business Analysis (BI Code) Reports.
For a charity such as WCD, this allows them to support donor relations by providing information on what funds are being spent on what projects at the touch of a button. When it comes to filing their compliance reports and VAT returns, the GL Explorer provided WCD with their partial recovery rate for both their business and non-business income. Using an automated system gave WCD the ability to quickly produce complex real-time financial reports in seconds while also eliminating the risk of human error.
Save time and money with automation
Implementing automated finance functions offers companies of all sizes the opportunity to generate significant savings by eliminating errors, streamlining processes, and reducing staffing and credit control costs.
Automated Fintech solutions such as Chaser, AccountsIQ and Lightyear represent easy-to-implement scalable solutions that can be used to dramatically improve efficiency and productivity, giving their users a competitive advantage in these challenging times.
To learn more about Chaser and AccountsIQ, please visit: https://www.chaserhq.com/integrations/accountsiq