As much as 60% of customer dissatisfaction with a company occurs not over the products and services provided, but with back-office practices.
Inaccurate billing, accounting errors, lost invoices, and slow pays are just some of the concerns customers and suppliers cite when complaining about businesses. Yet, so many of these problems can be solved with digital transformation, starting with back-office automation.
Manual processing is inefficient and expensive. The right automation process provides significant benefits, including:
- Minimizes manual tasks and paperwork
- Eliminates human error
- Makes processes more efficient
- Faster processing
- Reduces labor costs
When you improve your processes, you can simplify the workflow and consolidate many of the tedious manual tasks. Automating back-office tasks can reduce the reliance on complex legacy systems and manual (paper) processes that are disconnected from siloed data sources.
Some businesses may not be ready to jump fully into total digital transformation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of automation. Here are some of the areas where automation is making a difference.
1. Accounts Payable
AP automation eliminates paper invoices and frees up AP teams to focus on higher-level tasks. AP automation eliminates manual reconciliation while ensuring compliance and reducing fraud.
Faster invoice processing and account automation allow companies to leverage early payment discounts, reduce days payable outstanding, and optimize cash flow.
2. Accounts Receivable
Account Receivable is also filled with time-consuming manual tasks. For example, team members may have to manually key data from purchase orders into a system.
Intelligent automation can automate the entire process, including:
- Order processing
- Order fulfillment
- Cash allocation
This virtually eliminates human error or re-keying data into disparate systems.
3. Human Resources
Filling out forms, sending out a notification, and filling out records can all be turned over to automation. Self-serve platforms for employee data management help collect the necessary data during the onboarding process. AI can handle much of the management and notifications required for employee management.
With today’s tight labor market and high turnover rates, the faster you can onboard new employees, the faster you can put them to work.
4. Data Entry
Just about any task that involves data entry can be automated. Data entry is a repetitive and labor-intensive process and always leads to human error.
A study found that more than a quarter of all accounting mistakes occur because of incorrect data entry. When it comes to taxes, for example, these mistakes can add up quickly. In 2020 alone IRS assessed nearly 31.4 billion in civil penalties.
Someone keying an order into a sell order on the stock exchange once typed the letter B for billions, rather than M for millions. This one character set off a chain of events as systems in financial markets reacted swiftly. More than $1 trillion worth of investor dollars were wiped out and the market plunged 1,000 points. While most of the value was recaptured, it scared the heck out of traders and investors.
While your business might not deal in those kinds of large numbers, even small mistakes can cost you money.
5. Data Storage and Access
Are you still using paper and filing cabinets? With the massive amounts of data businesses are processing these days, paper documents cause all sorts of trouble. Besides the time it takes to file paper documents and rekey the information into data systems, it can also make it difficult to quickly access the documents when needed.
Using workflow automation, you can automate your storage in the cloud. Metadata can help you quickly search, sort, and retrieve what you need and link it to additional documentation. This also allows you to provide access to any authorized user.
6. Predictive Analytics
Today’s digital solutions are showcasing artificial intelligence and machine learning in remarkable ways. AI can find patterns across huge datasets and enable the detection of anomalies and warning signs. Machine learning can use both structured and unstructured data to train predictive models.
Before businesses declare bankruptcy or become delinquent, they often display other symptoms of financial stress, such as slow pays or increased billing disputes. Predictive analytics can automatically monitor for signs of deteriorating financial health and give you a faster warning so you can take action proactively.
These are just a few of the areas where back-office automation can help make your systems more efficient and your team members more productive. By reducing manual tasks, it frees up your employees to focus on revenue-generating tasks. When errors decrease, customers are happier as well.
Many businesses — faced with backlogs or inefficiencies in their accounting and back-office areas — hire more people to deal with it rather than solving the underlying problem. Instead of a one-time fix using software and automation, more than half of companies opt for the most expensive route: labor.
Instead, take a look at how back-office automation can provide a more long-time cost-efficient process.