Your investment in your business does not stop with initial or even additional funding. It goes on until the time you spend cultivating and nurturing it, as well as the effort you put into making it run smoothly and seamlessly. But all of these things pale in comparison to your healthiest and most viable investment to date, and that’s technology.
One of the best things about technology is that it can help eliminate inefficient processes. Remember when your business first launched a CRM system to manage revenue and the sales channel? The big question is: do you still use manual, paper-based processes to manage expenses?
There are many good reasons to automate a expense report and use software as a service (SaaS) solution. The first and most important reason is to gain control. The online expense reporting system provides easy expense reporting, automated routing and escalation of approvals, robust credit card management, travel expense analysis and reporting, and general expense insight.
Gone are the days of using Excel and storing stacks of paperwork for your company’s travel expense reports – or so it should be. Without an automated system to control the running costs of your organization, you really do not have much control over actively managing spending. The fact is that automation is the key to controlling and reducing operating expenses.
Do you know all the places where your business spends money? When was the last time you could thoroughly review all travel and entertainment expenses, not to mention purchases and payroll?
Let the data back it up.
Until recently, efficiencies and controls were simply too expensive for most small to mid-sized companies, while most Fortune 1000 businesses have been using automated expense control systems for years. But today, web-based technologies can enable these smaller businesses to join the ranks of automated businesses, and many business owners are now adopting automated expense reporting automatically. Small and medium-sized businesses are finally reaping the benefits of automated expense control. In fact, one technology research firm reported that 61 percent of the small and medium-sized businesses it surveyed plan to consider on demand, SaaS financial applications in the next 18 months.
The Association of Work Process Improvement reports that when data is entered by a human, errors occur, which can result in an error rate of about two to four percent. The most common errors actually occur when creating a document. Just as one example – spending data is often inconsistently captured due to duplications, spelling errors or the overuse of ‘other’ as a data classification. In addition, errors in the manual reconciliation of orders with invoices can occur. These types of data entry fixes are expensive for a business. Manual processes are indeed error prone, time consuming and expensive. Most small to medium-sized businesses spend too much time manually creating, collecting, approving, and checking expense documents, leaving little time to study real dollars, let alone finding out how to save money. With automation, however, businesses can reduce these types of mistakes and often eliminate them, which can lead to savings throughout the organization.
Do not overlook travel expenses.
Another fact is that travel and entertainment (T&E) is often the second largest expense category for a business; therefore, it is one of the first places where businesses want to control costs. It is not surprising that traditional paper-based expense reporting systems find it difficult to control travel and entertainment costs. On the other hand, accurate categorization of expenses often leads to benefits, including:
• Increased tax deductions.
• Integration of an automated T&E solution with credit card statements
• Pre-population of state data in expense reports, further reducing the need for manual imports
• Electronic orders and purchasing catalogs offer a great advantage to negotiate better prices from sellers and to ensure consistent naming practices
• By automating manual processes, data files can be accurate and complete
In a nutshell, automation can help your business control and reduce travel and business expenses, as well as simplify expense reporting across the entire organization. In terms of investments, automation is really a good one that you should have in your business arsenal.