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How to Conduct a Remote Audit

Most audits are conducted on-site, not because it’s practical or convenient but because it has become customary over the years. Since the dawn of accounting, in-person audits have become a facet of doing business that we begrudgingly accept. In fact, most companies conduct internal audits to be 100 percent certain that they are maintaining compliance with SOX, SOC 1 (Type 1 and Type 2), SEC Rule 17, and other external and internal compliance regulations.  Although it’s worked reasonably well, technology now permits businesses to conduct audits remotely, which means greater flexibility for business, reduced auditing costs, and greater peace of mind. But how do you conduct a remote audit? And how do you know if your business is prepared for remote accounting audits?

What Technology Do You Need to Conduct a Remote Audit?

For companies interested in conducting remote audits, it is important to recognize that technology is the key to unlock this useful capability. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that combine Document Management, Mobile Content Management, and Workflow Automation are ideal for driving remote auditing capabilities. ECM facilitates the digitization of all enterprise documents, which leads to expanded options for dealing with documentation both in and out of the office. Here’s how it works:

  • Enterprise Content Management: a single, integrated platform that connects with your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and provides the framework for the various technologies that make remote audits possible.
  • Document Management: technology that digitizes documentation and provides a secure, centralized repository from which all documents can be accessed, reviewed, and processed by approved users.
  • Mobile Content Management: technology that facilitates access to your organization’s digital repository by providing remote access to mobile devices. Mobile Content Management not only allows users in the field to process documents without returning to the office but also permits auditors to collect and review documents remotely for faster, less expensive audits.
  • Workflow Automation: advanced automation that leverages Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to streamline workflows and automate processes from start to finish. It also helps auditors find what they’re looking for more quickly and allows organizations to automate records retention using RPA-powered policies.

Are Remote Audits Right for Your Business?

ECM permits remote access, allowing approved users to source documentation from throughout your organization. It also allows businesses to create and control access by auditors using the same ECM system. In other words, you can provide temporary credentials to an auditor, allowing them to access the documents they require (and only those documents). This capability is ideal for SMEs and large enterprises that handle a large volume of documentation, such as invoices, sales orders, packing slips, and even onboarding forms.

The other benefit of using an ECM system to perform a remote audit is that it doesn’t limit your businesses to the types of audits it can perform. ECM is designed to be utilized across the enterprise in Accounting, Finance, Legal, Customer Service, Human Resources, and more. These departments often process thousands of documents per month, which creates a significant burden for your auditor if they are tasked with finding documents manually.

What Are the Benefits of Remote Auditing Technologies?

There are many benefits for businesses that conduct remote audits. First and foremost, it makes the process of undergoing an audit simple. Your company provides their auditing firm with an ECM user account with approved permissions that dictate what the auditor can access. Related transactional documentation is also readily available as long as your ECM system supports digital paper trails. Leading ECM systems operate as a “single source of truth” or SSOT. That means your auditor can find everything they need within a single, integrated system. Other benefits include:

  • Provides a central repository with robust search capabilities based on any recorded criteria (i.e., invoice #, vendor name, item #, date, logo, and more)
  • Supports centralized access from decentralized locations
  • Reduces audit fees
  • Accelerates audit completion
  • Captures all transactional documentation using automated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, ensuring that no documents are ever lost, damaged, or destroyed
  • Organizes documentation contiguously.
  • Validates and updates information in real-times
  • Improves business intelligence with robust analytics capabilities
  • Tracks auditor activity and progress
  • Guides auditors using plain-text notifications
  • Generates reports that are useful for both your organization and the auditor
  • Allows your organization’s decision-makers to easily review audit results whether conducted internally or externally
  • Facilitates customizable, scalable dashboards that deliver convenient self-service analytics reporting for each audit
  • Conducts multiple audits simultaneously from disparate locations

What Happens After You Embrace Remote Auditing Technologies?

Once you start to conduct audits remotely, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of on-site meetings. These will continue to occur, although much less frequently, and these interactions should be streamlined due to the added organization and file access provided by your ECM system. Collaboration with auditors and your department heads will be accelerated for faster resolutions. The company-firm relationship will remain strong, and perhaps even improve thanks to the added efficiency of ECM.

It’s still important to meet face-to-face every now and then, but in an increasingly digital world, it’s not unrealistic to believe that these types of interactions are already being phased out in favor of meetings conducted over Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Additionally, auditors are freed from long stints as a company’s on-site guest — something all parties admittedly appreciate. Your auditors will no longer need to travel, billable hours will be reduced, and you will gain greater control over the cost of audits. Your company will, ultimately, avoid audit projects exceeding projected timetables and budgets, resulting in mutual satisfaction in your fiscal relationships.

Needless to say, remote auditing is highly advantageous for all parties. ECM provides the platform to keep it convenient and cost-effective, allowing your organization to focus less on checks and balances and more on future growth.

To learn more about how remote audits can help your business save money, preserve time, and maintain compliance, contact IntelliChief today.

Enterprise Automation Statistics

10 Enterprise Automation Statistics for the Cost-Conscious Executive

Enterprise Automation Statistics

Industry 4.0 is here, which means top executives are taking it upon themselves to equip their businesses with the tools and resources necessary to stay competitive and improve profitability. Although there are several ways to improve operational efficiency across the enterprise, there are only a handful of solutions that can generate appreciable ROI from the outset, and among these, Enterprise Automation reigns supreme. Are you still performing your due diligence on automation? These 10 Enterprise Automation statistics will help you obtain a better understanding of why the time to automate is now.

 

For business leaders, it can feel like the goalposts are constantly being moved when it comes to Enterprise Automation. Innovation is at an all-time high, which means new features, functions, integrations, and products are always on the horizon. A quick search online might yield dozens of potential vendors. Due diligence could take weeks, even months, to complete. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean you should stall your Digital Transformation; instead, consider these ten Enterprise Automation statistics!

1. It Takes Employees an Average of 18 Minutes to Locate a Document Manually

Before you can automate, you must first digitize. Digitization of your business-critical documents ensures that they are never lost or destroyed. They can be recalled on demand without a trip to the file cabinet or warehouse, allowing you to establish a frictionless work environment where productivity is prioritized. It takes employees an average of 18 minutes to locate a document manually, which can account for up to 50 percent of their time. When you digitize your documents, you reclaim this time lost and set the stage for the real game-changer: Enterprise Automation.

2. 60% of Occupations Could Save 30% of Their Time With Automation

Once you’ve performed your due diligence and identified your ideal solution, it’s time to identify which business processes are best suited for automation. When automating workflows, you want to zero in on departments that process a large volume of paper and/or information. In our experience, some of the best departments to automate include:

There is no “wrong” answer when you start to automate business processes; however, there are certain departments that will yield a higher ROI than others due to a number of factors. Here’s the good news. According to a McKinsey Study, 60 percent of occupations could save 30 percent of their time with automation, which means the potential for automation within your organization is largely untapped.

3. Employees Spend 69 Workdays Each Year on Manual Administration-Related Tasks Instead of Their Primary Job Duties

Businesses that automate drastically reduce wasteful spending by eliminating repetitive, time-consuming tasks that lead to productivity issues. In a study conducted by DJS Research on behalf of Unit 4, it was revealed that people spend 69 workdays each year performing manual administration-related tasks instead of their primary job duties. Enterprise Automation helps you reclaim this time and put it to use however you see fit. Can you imagine how much more your employees could accomplish with an extra 552 hours per year?

4. Businesses That Adopted Big Data Reduced Overall Costs by 10% and Increased Overall Profits by 8%

Another benefit of Enterprise Automation is that it allows you to bolster your analytics efforts to get a clearer view of the nuances of what is (and isn’t) working process-wise within your organization. You can identify operational bottlenecks, inefficient processes, and even track individual performance to make sure each of your team members is putting forth equal input to help you achieve your fiscal goals. You don’t have to wait until the end of the quarter to collect data and generate reports like the old days. You simply click a button and your reports are ready to view or distribute. Improving business intelligence keeps everyone in your organization on the same page and working towards the same objectives, which explains Business Application Research Center (BARC) findings that businesses with big data capabilities are able to reduce overall costs by 10 percent and increase overall profits by 8 percent on average.

5. Bad Data Costs Businesses $600 Billion Annually

Collectively, businesses forfeit $600 billion annually as a result of poor quality data. On a case-by-case basis, this can account for as much as 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs. That’s not a figure to scoff at. The Business Literacy Institute considers a sustained growth rate of 10 percent a year to be “remarkably good,” so if you’re currently losing 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs to bad data, the numbers suggest that your business could be trending in the wrong direction.

6. Manual Business Processes Cost Businesses $5 Trillion Annually

$600 billion in lost operating revenue costs will certainly catch the attention of any executive, but it’s only a small fraction of the revenues lost to manual business processes. Manual business processes cost businesses $5 trillion annually. For reference, that is $2 trillion more than the U.S. deficit for 2020. Of all the Enterprise Automation statistics in this article, this might be the most alarming because it suggests a significant window of opportunity for any executive who is willing to take the leap and automate their company.

7. 75% of Businesses State That AI Will Allow Them to Transition Into New Businesses and Ventures

Businesses that are no longer at a functional disadvantage can do more with the resources available to them. Growth is a key indicator of a company’s overall success. 75 percent of businesses state that AI will allow them to transition into new businesses and ventures, allowing them to expand operations into new and increasingly profitable areas that would be barred off otherwise. For growth-minded executives fueled by ambition, an investment in Enterprise Automation equates to an investment in a growing portfolio of future-proof ventures.

8. 84% of Executives and Analysts Say AI Will Help Them Obtain or Sustain a Competitive Advantage

Executives and analysts alike are keen on automation because there is still a long way to go before this technology has been adopted universally. In other words, companies that automate sooner than later can get a head start in Industry 4.0. Just think, how would your business look today if you were the first to invest in a mobile-friendly website, automated customer service, or paperless process management? There’s a reasonable chance that with earlier adoption of these technologies, many of which were considered big risks at one point, your business would be further along with its Digital Transformation and more resilient to business interruptions. According to Forbes, 84 percent of executives and analysts say AI will help them obtain or sustain a competitive advantage — which means there is no time to waste.

9. 67% of Businesses Believe Implementing Digital or Software Solutions Is Important to Remain Competitive

AI plays an important role in automating business processes, but it’s not the only solution for companies looking to streamline and cut costs. 67 percent of businesses believe implementing digital or software solutions is important to remain competitive. Some examples of software solutions that can help enhance the enterprise include:

10. Automation Projects in Paper-Intensive Departments Generate an ROI of 30-200% in the First Year

According to ThinkAutomation, automation projects in paper-intensive departments, like Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and Customer Service, typically generate an ROI of 30-200 percent in the first year. In Accounts Payable, where Enterprise Automation can increase processing speeds by as much as 70 percent or more, many businesses recoup their initial investment in less than twelve months. Forward-thinking executives tend to leverage these savings to expand their solution across the enterprise to facilitate a more connected, data-savvy work environment.

These Enterprise Automation Statistics Speak for Themselves, Only You Can Speak for Your Business

Are you ready to cut costs, increase operational efficiency, and future-proof your business? These ten Enterprise Automation statistics speak for themselves, but it’s up to you to be the voice of reason at your company. If your team is still entering data to your ERP system manually, shuffling through file cabinets to locate documents, or paying the same invoice more than once, it’s time to make a change.

With IntelliChief, you can preserve your existing business processes and enhance them with industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation capabilities. To learn more, contact IntelliChief today.

Reduce Your Operating Costs With Process Automation

The cost of doing business has been increasing every year – and not by just a few percentage points. Some experts calculate that operating expenses double every 14 years. This makes it increasingly hard to stay competitive.

Of course, as industries change, new tools emerge. Businesses have a number of ways to reduce their operating costs, both now and in the future.

One option? Using technology to handle time-consuming tasks. This not only makes things easier for your employees, but it helps you reduce your expenses in the process.

Choosing Processes to Automate

Many routine processes are good candidates for automation. Software can help reduce the operating costs associated with:

Some companies turn to outsourcing services to help cut these costs. Unfortunately, there are downsides – most notable, poor visibility and a lack of control. But with automation, businesses don’t have to trust these responsibilities to a third party. Companies can still handle them on their own while placing less of a burden on their internal resources.

How Much Can Businesses Save With Automation?

The more you automate, the more you can save. At IntelliChief, we’ve seen companies cut their costs by as much as 70 percent.

It all starts with a comprehensive strategy.

Individually, each of the processes listed above may not seem that costly. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there can quickly add up.

Let’s use invoice processing as an example.

The average business can save $10 (or more) for each invoice they process automatically. At 1,000 invoices per month, that’s a savings of $120,000 per year.

And if that business were to also automate their order processing?

The best companies can process a sales order for just over $5. Meanwhile, inefficient companies spend around $40.87.  That’s a difference of more than $35 per order. Over the course of a year? A business that processes 1,000 orders per month can reduce their annual expenses by $420,000.

An Increase in Business Doesn’t Have to Mean an Increase in Operating Costs

Most companies see an increase in operating costs as they grow. More transactions mean more administrative work – and more employees to keep up.

With automation, though, the economy of scale can make a big difference.

Software can do in seconds what an employee may need several days to complete. As you earn more business, automation lets you handle the increased workload with the resources you already have.

The only caveat: you need to invest in a solution that can solve your current problems, while also accounting for future growth.

Weighing the Cost of an Investment Against the Potential Benefits

When you’re looking to reduce your operating costs, paying thousands of dollars for a solution can seem counterproductive. But for the right technology, your business can easily recover the expense.

In an article for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Stephen O’Hearn states that “the crucial priority isn’t the costs you cut, [but] rather where you focus resources to stimulate growth.” Technology helps you work smarter – as long you spend smarter, too.

The best way to increase your ROI is to find one solution that can work in several areas of your business. This brings down the total cost of ownership.

It’s also important to find a solution that’s simple to use. A new software program can’t do you any good if your employees don’t understand how to use it – or if it makes them abandon their current processes. It can be hard to bring about meaningful change in a business, but when you introduce a solution that makes everyone’s lives easier, they’re more likely to adopt it for the long haul.

How IntelliChief Can Help You Reduce Your Operating Costs

At IntelliChief, we understand how important it is to keep your operating expenses low. We can help you implement cost-saving strategies across your entire business.

Our process automation tool can help you lower your operating costs across Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Finance, Production, Distribution, Customer Service, and even HR. And the financial justification is there: our customers typically achieve a full return on investment in just one year.

Our solutions integrate with the business programs that you already use. This lets you extend the usefulness of your legacy programs – programs that could otherwise be too costly to justify keeping.

To learn more about reducing your operating costs with IntelliChief’s business automation software, contact us today. Or, visit our Resource Library to see how other businesses have implemented our cost-saving measures in real life.

 

Reduce Your Lead Time: 8 Strategies to Process Orders Faster, Increase Customer Satisfaction, and Improve Your Cash Flow

Your customers expect to receive their orders quickly — no matter how they’re placed or how much customization is involved. If you take too long, you’re less likely to earn their repeat business, and you can forget about a word-of-mouth recommendation. The bottom line: Your lead time is important, and reducing it can have a major impact on your business.

Of course, that tends to be easier said than done, but with a few strategic changes you’ll be able to reduce your lead time and optimize your entire supply chain, leading to more satisfied customers and a stronger competitive advantage.

Before you start to make changes, you’ll need to set realistic goals for improvement that take into account your current performance and the nuances of your particular industry. For example, if you manufacture made-to-order products, your lead times may be several weeks longer than a company that has a standard product line.

If you want to grow your business, you’re going to need to reduce your lead time. Here’s how:

1. Remove Unreliable Suppliers From Your Supply Chain

Do you routinely receive late shipments from certain suppliers? Keeping them in your supply chain could be costing you more than finding a different vendor.

A study performed by NC State University suggests that supplier evaluation almost always has a positive impact on a company’s financial performance — even when taking into account the potential cost of a transition.

However, if you do change suppliers to reduce your lead time, make sure you’re stocked up with enough inventory to last you through the changeover. Furthermore, ensure that your new supplier is prepared to start sending you products right away.

2. Choose Vendors That Are Closer to Your Warehouse

In today’s global marketplace, you have access to more vendors than ever before. Unfortunately, while chasing the best prices across the globe, you may end up waiting weeks for products to be shipped overseas. This not only makes your lead time longer but it also complicates the process of returning faulty or unwanted products.

Reduce Lead Time

One of the easiest lead time reduction strategies for suppliers is to give priority to vendors that are located close to your warehouse or manufacturing plant. And if you can’t find a local supplier that can compete on price, consider placing larger (but less frequent) orders from international vendors and keeping a larger inventory on hand.

3. Share Your Demand Forecasts With Your Suppliers

If you’re in an industry that naturally fluctuates, your orders may change from month to month. In order to keep your suppliers prepared for larger-than-normal orders, let them know that you’re expecting an increase in demand as early as possible. This helps to ensure that they’re not only prepared to handle an exceedingly large order but also prepared to do so as quickly as possible.

4. Bring External Processes In-House

Do you handle most but not all of your production processes in-house? Consider increasing your own capabilities so you don’t have to send your products out to a third party for completion. This requires a significant investment upfront, but the long-term savings (and the permanent reduction in lead times) generally make this a financially feasible option. Plus, you’ll be establishing your infrastructure for growth, allowing you to scale with ease once your profits start to trend upwards.

5. Automate Your Order Processing Workflows

Once you have your raw materials and are ready to start production, make sure that your own internal processes are up to par as well. Consider:

  • How long it takes you to get customer purchase orders into your system
  • How long it takes you to move engineering change orders through production and QA
  • How often the process gets held up as a result of internal miscommunication
  • How often orders get lost entirely

If your performance is poor in any of these areas, your lead times are likely suffering as a result. Automating your order processing workflows can help you get your finished products out the door more quickly.

6. Complete Multiple Processes at the Same Time

Certain processes have to be completed before others can be started – and there’s just no way around it. But, if you’re able to identify processes that different individuals can complete at the same time, you can increase productivity and reduce your lead time even further.

Improve Lead Time

7. Improve Internal Communications

Order processing is an “all hands on deck” process. If you’re not collaborating well internally, you may be creating unnecessary delays.

Let’s use order entry as an example. If there are multiple steps in your process that require input from several people, you could be spending extra time you don’t have to. This is especially true if you’re dealing with paper, which can’t be tracked.  Paper-based projects left sitting on someone’s desk increases your lead time, as well as the likelihood of lost documents.

Even though poor communication is a major challenge to solve (and often a symptom of other, deeper issues), manufacturers have several options for eliminating bottlenecks. One option? A workflow system that immediately routes order-related documents from one department or user to the next, while immediately notifying users that a project requires their attention.

8. Communicate More Effectively With Your Customers

So this doesn’t technically help you reduce your lead time, but it does help you keep your customers up-to-date while they wait for their orders. Since studies have repeatedly found that communication is a strong predictor of customer loyalty, it’s an important aspect to consider.

If you’re not sending out order notifications, consider investing in a system that’ll do exactly that. (Automation is a major time-saver here as well, with plenty of technologies that handle notifications automatically.) It’s a simple – and nearly effortless – way to set expectations and increase satisfaction.

Let IntelliChief Help You Reduce Your Lead Time

At IntelliChief, we understand how critical it is for you to keep your business running smoothly – and we’re here to help.

We’ve provided hundreds of companies with the tools they need to automate their sales order-processing procedures. The result? Less time wasted on redundant back-office administration, and more time to devote to sales and product development. Some of our customers have even reduced their lead times by up to 50 percent.

To learn more, contact us today, or visit our Resource Library to see the ways that other manufacturers and distributors have started working smarter with IntelliChief.