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Automation – the key to ensuring your organisation survives tough times

By Paul Sparkes, commercial director at iplicit

Business is going to get tougher.

Your cashflow is under increasing pressure. The very lifeblood of your organisation is under threat. And you’re perpetually in the crosshairs because so much of this is on your shoulders.

Sound familiar? If not, it soon will – because that’s what happens in a ‘downturn’. You know this all too well because you’ve experienced it before, and it isn’t pretty. Tough times are coming.

It’ll be the fast, agile businesses that’ll feel the least pain: the ones with adaptable accounting teams that can move swiftly, identify new efficiencies and seize opportunities. Just like the mammals that superseded the dinosaurs.

In times like these, you don’t have the time to struggle with outdated on-premise/entry-level software that lacks functionality and needs constant workarounds.

Why would you?

Now is the time to act. Now is the time to make sure you have dependable, controllable finance software that:

  • ensures you get paid faster – preserving cashflow
  • speeds up debt chasing – so you’re more likely to recover monies owed
  • streamlines verification and payment of expenses – keeping staff onside in a recruitment crisis
  • keeps customers sweet – when retention has never been more important.

It’s time to take control and embrace automation

‘Automation’ can be a scary word for the uninitiated – especially where payments are involved. The idea of a faceless bot handling money does not always sit comfortably. Not when you’re a cautious soul with responsibility for the financial health of a business.

But big banks thrive on automated systems. Those systems inevitably involve your company and they run smoothly enough. And many of your customers and suppliers are also using accounting software automation – and it too processes payments without issues.

Automation is delegation – not abdication. With the right true cloud accounting software, you are always in control. Always. You can do test runs to ensure everything is correct before approving and activating an automated payment run. (‘Trust but verify’ as the intelligence community used to say.)

This testability is very reassuring. It wins over those worried about clicking the wrong button. Even the staunchest defenders of manual payment systems can become automation evangelists when they can check in advance to ensure everything will work perfectly.

And remember, you’re delegating payment runs to a machine. An automated system will do precisely what you tell it to do. Over and over again (until you tell it to do something different). This removes the risk of mistakes caused by humans forced to perform mundane and repetitive processing tasks.

Get paid faster – chase debts more efficiently and more effectively

Everyone knows that the longer a debt drags on, the less likely you are to get paid. So you need to deal with debts promptly. Before they mount up.

As you might imagine, automated debt chasing is much faster and far less labour-intensive than traditional methods. Phone calls and manually generated emails all take time – vital hours that could be better spent on customer retention and new business acquisition.

Automation is also elegant because you can set it to send out different dunning emails based on customer type – so you won’t annoy your VIP clients.

Your royalty customers get the red carpet dunning email…while the shameless bad payers get a more direct missive. Meanwhile, new customers get another type of email gently reminding them of your payment terms…and so on.

Sadly, not every accounting software platform offers all this straight out of the box. It is unusual at the entry-level end of the market but there are a few providers out there!

Some mid-market systems offer debt chasing automation but generally only as an add-on. That means longer implementation times and greater integration costs. Not ideal for finance leaders that want to move swiftly and cut overheads.

Cut the cost of dealing with expenses

Sometimes it can take months to settle expenses. Manual processing of expenses can be fraught with delays that waste time (and therefore money), annoy customers and alienate staff. The situation is so bad that 38% of employees no longer bother to claim back expenses.

Automated tools are helping to move companies and accounting departments away from the stress of end-of-month expense claiming towards a much more manageable day-to-day operation.

This improves the lives of staff. Not just those wanting swift reimbursement rather than waiting for their next payday – but also for those performing the checking and processing.

There is less admin, a more manageable workload and there are fewer errors due to haste. All that time previously wasted on the expenses verification merry-go-round can now be diverted to more important work that actually results in real business growth.

What are you waiting for?

It’s a well used adage, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Many of us can see the writing on the wall – despite what the leadership candidates promise as part of their plans for the economy.

A cost of living crisis spurred on by rising interest rates and spiralling inflation are obvious signs of a pending recession. If your finance department is not equipped with the right software to help you manage cashflow, chase debts and keep your customers and employees happy during tough times, then you’re in for a rough ride.

In an industry which is renowned for being risk averse, why risk the financial stability of your organisation on outdated finance software?

By Paul Sparkes, commercial director at iplicit

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