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Business Process Automation Benefits

4 Benefits of Business Process Automation in the Workplace

Business Process Automation Benefits

Automating inefficient, time-consuming products has become essential in every industry in the United States. Whether you are a project manager working in construction or an Accounts Payable professional for an enterprise-class manufacturer, automation can help you forge a path forward during one of the most challenging economic periods in American history.

 

According to a recent Harris Poll survey, Accelerating Automation: How Businesses are Adapting to a Post-COVID World, “92 percent of business leaders agree that to survive and flourish, companies must enable digital channels and process automation in the workplace.”

As a business leader, your reasons for automating your company will differ drastically from those of others. Some automate to cut costs, while others do so to help control the workload being placed on employees. If eliminating costly transactional errors is your objective, automation can help with that too.

Business process automation benefits can be a significant game-changer for your company. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss four benefits of business process automation. Keep in mind that these benefits are NOT mutually exclusive.

1. Meet and Surpass Your Growth Objectives

At the end of the day, every business has the same goal: growth.

Whether you want to grow to generate revenue, to spread your message, or to give yourself the tools to make a positive impact on the world, the most direct path to your goal is through growing your business – and business process automation gives you an array of tools to do just that.

The initial cost barrier of automation can be a tough pill to swallow; however, just beyond this initial investment lies an endless bounty of opportunity for businesses that decide to take the risk. Ironically, the risk of not investing in automation for the workplace is significantly higher – especially if your competitors are already getting their own automation projects underway.

Once your competitors automate their companies, you must begin calculating the opportunity cost of your decision to not automate, including:

  • Stifled profits
  • Overburdened employees
  • Erroneous processes
  • The rising cost of paper and storage
  • Lost market share
  • A growing gap in the capabilities of you versus your competitors

After you have justified your investment with the help of an expert, you will be able to forecast your ROI and create a plan to help you scale your solution into the future. With your company firing on all cylinders and productivity elevated by as much as 90%, you can rest assured that your company will continue to meet its growth objectives year after year.

2. Reduced Time to Fill Keeps Productivity at Peak Levels

Whenever an employee decides to quit or retire, they will leave a void in your business process that must be filled with another employee who possesses the same or similar skills and knowledge to complete the job at a high level.

If that role is unable to be filled, the responsibilities of that employee will fall squarely on the shoulders of your other workers. An overly long time to fill can cripple productivity and create bottlenecks in your workflow.

Automation can help you eliminate issues caused by an excessive time to fill. Better yet, it can bridge the gap when an employee leaves for good. If there’s no other candidate out there who can capably do the job or a lack of qualified talent, automation can nullify the impact.

3. Cultivate an Employee-Friendly Working Environment and Improve Retention

As a business leader, you are not only at war with your competitors when it comes to dollars and cents, you are also battling over the top talent in your industry. If your employees report being overworked or overburdened, regularly being tasked with taking on multiple duties or a large volume of manual tasks, they could be heading for greener pastures sooner than later.

The competition in the recruitment market is one of the least talked about struggles facing all employers, but that does not diminish its impact. The best way to avoid this obstacle is to retain employees, and the only way to retain employees at a high rate is to ensure that your working environment supports your employees and is willing to make necessary changes to improve retention.

Here’s the thing: Shallow improvements to the workplace, like installing pong tables and vending machines, won’t actually help you retain workers. Bells and whistles are nice, but they won’t help your workers relax if they are constantly working on repetitive or menial tasks.

Business process automation benefits your working environment because it takes on redundant tasks, freeing up your workers to focus on more meaningful responsibilities or those that require some form of creative problem-solving. Workers that arrive each day with a sense of autonomy over their work-life balance feel valued, which means they are more willing to stay with a company in the long run, as opposed to employees who constantly feel anxious or depleted.

4. Unheralded Efficiency Drives Your Business Past the Competition

Companies that focus on maintaining efficiency across all areas of their business generally have a leg up on the competition. They outfit themselves with superior technology that allows them to establish streamlined companies that waste very few resources. Take Tesla for example, which is now considered the most valuable car company on the planet despite being founded in 2003. Not only is their product more efficient, but their entire business model is also structured on the principle of efficiency.

Efficient processes ensure that information flows in and out of your business without any interruptions, resulting in faster transactions and increased operational bandwidth. For the enterprise, this is achieved by forming a seamless integration with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at the core of the business (i.e., Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft Infor LX, JD Edwards World, etc.). Once integrated, business process automation software can help you reclaim the 520 hours per year lost to repetitive tasks per employee.

Your company can cash in these hours on new projects, additional training, and other important organizational benefits. Repetitive tasks that could be automated cost the US economy over $10,000 per employee each year. How many employees does your company keep on its payroll? How many “invisible” dollars are you really losing? And how do these dollars lost compare to the dollars gained after investing in automation?  These are important questions that should be answered with the help of an expert who has experienced implementing automation in the workplace.

Automation in the workplace can help you establish stronger and more resilient business processes to help you become an industry disrupter? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about the benefits of business process automation.

IntelliChief

4 Common Matching Issues for Major ERP Systems

Matching Issues for ERP Systems

Is there anything more frustrating than footing the bill for a fraudulent or inaccurate invoice? For years, business owners have struggled to give their Accounts Payable (AP) departments the tools they need to prevent invoice processing errors related to manual data entry, duplicate invoices, and faulty exception handling — and it’s starting to take a toll on several industries.

According to Infor, “approximately 0.1% to 0.05% of invoices paid are typically duplicate payments.” In other words, a business that grosses $150 million per year could lose as much as $750,000 to duplicate payments over a five-year period. This “lost” money could have been invested in training, bonuses, infrastructure, and virtually anything else businesses need to succeed. For most businesses, utilizing a 3-way matching process is a reliable way to cut down on matching errors, but it can also lead to additional Accounts Payable challenges.

In theory, a true 3-way matching process matches not only the invoice and purchase order but also its corresponding receiving information, thereby eliminating the chance for duplicate payments and counterfeit invoices. Unfortunately, this process can be a hindrance for businesses that aren’t equipped with the tools to process invoices quickly and accurately. For instance, some enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems require the processor to manually check to ensure that all related documents have been received to approve the 3-way match and complete the AP process. Another common ERP-related issue is a system’s inability to read purchase orders (POs) and receipt tables, rendering automatic voucher creation an impossibility.

IntelliChief, an Infor solution partner and Oracle Gold Partner, was built to overcome these limitations with unparalleled workflow automation and invoice matching capabilities. Unlock your team’s true potential by eliminating pitfalls in your existing AP process and watch productivity soar as you reduce manual exception handling by as much as 50% or more.

Issue #1: Workflow-Restrictive Implementation

Too often we find that enterprise-class software wants your business to play by their rules. Whether you’ve been in business for one, ten, or one hundred years, your existing business processes should be respected and considered whenever new technology is incorporated into your workflow. One of the major detractors of point solutions that aim to address a single issue is a lack of flexibility. You can’t apply their technology to other departments or workflows, and you must mold your existing processes to “play nice” with their system.

IntelliChief is unique because it is an enterprise content management (ECM) platform that integrates directly with your ERP system and can be configured to your exact business processes. Whether you utilize a 2-, 3-, or 4-way matching process, IntelliChief can be configured accordingly to help you reduce lag time and AP errors.

Issue #2: Queued Matching

How do you streamline a process that grinds to a halt every time something unfamiliar enters your queue? On top of that, how do you ensure that easily processed documents aren’t trapped behind a wall of exceptions? Realistically, utilizing any sort of queue in your process will lead to slowdowns and additional Accounts Payable challenges. For example, if your team members must enter an invoice to see if the receiving has been completed, it’s only a matter of time before your entire system is bogged down.

As an Infor Solution Partner and Oracle Gold Partner, IntelliChief matches invoices in real-time to help businesses avoid late fees while capitalizing on opportunities for early payment discounts. Exceptions are routed into workflow and automatically processed once the system has enough confidence in a match or recognizes that it’s within your tolerances. Any exceptions that fail the confidence test are then routed to a user for manual approval, leaving only your most pressing (and real) exceptions to be handled by your AP department.

Issue #3: No Unit of Measure Conversion Capabilities

Reducing the number of exceptions in your AP process is a surefire way to increase productivity. Whenever your processors are forced to deal with an exception, they are committing extra time to a particular transaction regardless of its value. Whether a transaction is worth $1 or $1 million, every additional second your team requires to process it is being siphoned directly from your bottom line.

Unit of Measure Conversion

IntelliChief finds the match even when item numbers, quantities, and unit prices don’t!

Therefore, if you can reduce the amount of time spent handling exceptions, you can realize significant cost savings. IntelliChief can automatically perform unit of measure and part number conversions to reduce exceptions. For example:

  • Lithium grease can be purchased in a drum or a 5-gallon bucket. There are 55 gallons in a drum, which means there are 11 buckets in a single drum. If the invoice and purchase order express this amount (i.e. one drum) in different terms (i.e. one drum vs. eleven buckets) it will result in an exception and require manual intervention to process. IntelliChief utilizes a cross-reference matrix to automate these conversions, eliminating the need for manual approval.
  • Steel is often purchased in coils while copper tubing is more commonly purchased by the 20-foot section. Similarly, steel pipe is regularly purchased in 44-foot rail lengths but used by the inch or square inch. When suppliers and purchasers have different expectations about how a material will be utilized, it can lead to unit of measure normalization issues. The final product is ultimately the same, but your AP processors can’t be certain without checking manually. IntelliChief eases the burden of this complicated process by handling the conversions for you and eliminating this step altogether.

Issue #4: Lack of Support for Workflow Automation

By addressing the above concerns with an industry-leading ECM solution like IntelliChief, your business can take advantage of faster processing times and fewer exceptions. It allows businesses to accelerate invoice or customer purchase order processing by eliminating manual intervention and automating your workflow. Even complex matching procedures, such as those involving blanket POs, are no problem for IntelliChief.

As soon as your information enters the system, a 2-, 3-, or 4-way match is performed automatically. With normalization and cross-referencing, the number of transactions that require manual intervention is reduced even further. IntelliChief Capture Enterprise users can even unlock the ability to use straight-through processing, which allows invoices to be processed without any manual entry or intervention from the beginning. As the statistics below prove, the leap in productivity is nothing short of alarming:

Without Normalization/Cross-Reference

  • 260 Total Invoices
  • 141 Processed Straight Through
  • 119 Required Manual Intervention
  • 54% Straight to Voucher

With Normalization and Cross-Reference

  • 260 Total Invoices
  • 254 Processed Straight Through
  • 6 Required Manual Intervention
  • 97% Straight to Voucher

With IntelliChief, you can reduce the burden of exception handling on your AP team, reach unprecedented processing speeds, and decrease the number of errors in your process by a wide margin. Even when your team is out of the office or unavailable, IntelliChief continues to process transactions in real-time from start to finish.

Overcome Your Accounts Payable Challenges With IntelliChief

There are many benefits for businesses that rely on 3-way matching, including stronger supplier relationships, increased profitability, and superior preparedness for financial audits. However, businesses that don’t automate this process are often overwhelmed with the time- and labor-intensive nature of manually performing 3-way matches. In order to scale this process as you grow your business, automation is critical. With IntelliChief, there’s no limit to how many documents you can process — even when the office is closed — thanks to robust automation capabilities that learn (and master) your business-critical processes.

To learn more about how IntelliChief can help your business overcome its Accounts Payable challenges with industry-leading workflow automation and document management solutions, contact us today.

 

How to Reduce DSO: 7 Strategies for Better Accounts Receivable Management

You’ve run the numbers, looked at previous metrics, and realized that your DSO is higher than it should be. You may be seeing the impact on your day-to-day cash flow, or you could simply be trying to get ahead of future problems. Either way, you’re looking to reduce your DSO – and the following strategies can help you get there.

Step 1: Set Realistic DSO Targets

In a perfect world, customers would pay right away. But, the reality is, most companies need several days – if not several weeks – to collect and verify their invoices, get approvals, and schedule payments.

To decide on a target DSO, you’ll want to consider the average for your industry, as well as how long it typically takes your company to convert receivables into cash. (This article takes a deeper look at using your DSO as a KPI.)

If your current days sales outstanding is 90+, you won’t be able to get to 30 days overnight. A more reasonable initial goal is an improvement of 10-15 percent. That means reducing your DSO to 77-81 days if you’re currently at 90 days, or getting to 51-54 days if you’re currently at 60. Once you’ve met this initial target, you can re-evaluate your cash flow and decide if you still need to improve.

Step 2: Review Your Payment Terms

A typical guideline for accounts receivable management: your DSO should be within 15-20 percent of your stated payment terms. Once you’ve figured out how much you need to reduce your days sales outstanding, you can re-evaluate your payment terms to make sure they align.

When looking at your payment terms, you’ll want to look at more than just the period of time that your buyer has to pay the amount that’s due. You can also look at:

  • Early payment incentives (such as a 1 or 2 percent discount for paying within 10 or 15 days)
  • Late payment penalties
  • How you’re asking to be paid (electronic options let you access payments right away, instead of waiting several days for a check to come in the mail – although some of your customers might not be willing to adopt new technologies)

One Hundred Dollar Bill

Step 3: Get Better at Credit Risk Management

Your payment terms go hand in hand with your credit practices – which are equally important to consider when you need to reduce your DSO.  If you’re too lenient, you take on a greater financial risk – but if you’re too strict, you may be missing out on potential business.

When you review your credit policy, be sure to consider:

  • Your company’s overall financial risk tolerances
  • What criteria customers need to meet to be approved for credit
  • How you plan to process each application (e.g. using a third-party company for a B2B credit check, or requesting more references from new customers)
  • How you plan to resolve delinquent accounts (from preliminary communications through collections)

You’ll also want to consider whether credit policy changes could actually increase your DSO, rather than reduce it. For instance, if you add more paperwork or more extensive credit checks to your process, you’ll likely spend more time on accounts receivable management upfront. However, if the time you spend on this step is less than the amount of time (and money) you’d spend dealing with delinquent accounts, it may be worth the trade-off.

And remember: you don’t have to decline business from customers you deem too risky. Instead, you can consider options like pre-payment, cash on delivery, or a partial up-front deposit.

Step 4: Improve Your Invoicing Practices

Once you know how you plan to reduce your DSO, you’ll need to communicate your new policies very clearly to your customers. That may mean updating your invoice template to put the due date and preferred method of payment front and center.

There’s also the issue of getting delivered to the customer right away. (After all, if your customer hasn’t received an invoice yet, there’s nothing for them to pay!)

If you currently wait for customers to receive their purchases before you send your invoices, you could start sending invoices after each order has shipped. You could also consider emailing your invoices to speed up the process even further.

There’s also the option of automating your invoices, but we’ll get into automation a bit further on.

Hand and Clipboard

Step 5: Improve Your Collections Practices

Even though most customers pay on time (and those miss the first deadline do usually follow through in the end), companies still need to have a documented debt recovery policy in place. This ensures that you know what to do in a worst-case scenario (and that you spend as few resources as possible on the process.)

One of the most common customer responses on a collection call is “I never got that invoice, can you send it to me?”  Employees then have to get off the phone, reprint the invoice,  re-scan it, and re-email it out.  Implementing an enterprise content management system can give the user access to the invoice while the customer is on the phone, and the customer can receive the invoice immediately.  This allows the AR team an opportunity to come up with a payment plan for the customer right then.

For the most part, one or two friendly reminders are usually enough to get a customer to address an unpaid invoice. (Be sure to keep complete documentation of all your communication attempts – in the event that you do need to send the account to a collections agency, this will make the process smoother.) But, if multiple reminders go unanswered, it may be easiest to turn the account over to the pros. That way, you can go back to focusing on more financially valuable accounts.

Step 6: Increase Visibility

Reducing DSOs is a collaborative effort. Credit managers, financial analysts, and CFOs all have their own role in the process – and they all need real-time information to make more informed decisions.

An unpaid invoice report is a great place to start – but they’ll need to look much deeper to get to the bottom of your high days sales outstanding. Visibility is crucial; your team needs to know which customers are late to pay, whether there’s any correlation with your company’s sales patterns, and whether you’re doing anything internally to hold up the process. If you don’t already have a reporting process in place, consider investing more heavily in a system that’ll let you create a more accurate cash flow forecast.

Step 7: Consider Automation for Effortless Accounts Receivable Management

At the end of the day, managing your receivables is a time-consuming process. Anything you can do to make it easier can have a positive impact on your cash flow.

AR automation is one way that you can speed things up. Instead of having an employee create invoices, confirm each company’s billing information, and print and send your paperwork, you can let an automated system handle everything for you.

Companies that automate their order to cash processes are usually able to reduce their DSOs within a few months. Their customers get their invoices faster, don’t have to worry about duplicate charges, and spend less time contacting customer service. Internally, these companies can eliminate repetitive processes and free up their accounts receivable team to work on more important projects.

Let IntelliChief Help You Reduce Your DSO and Improve Your Accounts Receivable Performance

Ready to improve your approach to accounts receivable management? IntelliChief can help. Our business process optimization team can help you automate your most time-consuming workflows. We’ll recommend ways for you to reduce your DSO, increase your cash flow, and process your receivables with less effort from your team.

Are you ready to work smarter, not harder? IntelliChief can help. For more information, contact us today.