Why Automation Is Your Finance Team’s Best Productivity Strategy
Productivity is more than a simple equation of maximizing profit and minimizing lost time (although those things are important, too). It’s about improving the way all employees work together to achieve business objectives and communicate effectively.
New tech developments are introducing increasingly sophisticated automation. That means now is better than ever for finance executives to consider how automating manual finance tasks can increase employee engagement and retention, minimize errors, and strengthen the ways budget and financial forecasting tie into overall business strategy.
How Automation Saves Time and Money
When employees and managers work more effectively with the finance team, they can minimize duplicate expenses and streamline planning. Finance managers will appreciate automated reports that let them track how business travel fits into the proposed budget.
In 2016, only 45% of businesses used an automated expense management process for business travel. That could explain why 68% of workers reported spending 30 minutes to 2 hours completing expenses. That’s not counting time to research and book their business trips!
Using machine learning to scour the market for deals on tickets and accommodation frees up more time for everyone.
Automation also saves money if you don’t have a dedicated travel expert on hand. Advito, a travel consultancy, predicts increasing hotel rates and a worsening problem of finding hotel availability at preferred rates.
Accommodation is an easy area to overspend, especially for SMBs that may not be able to command the best corporate rates.
By automating hotel searches in a travel management system, you achieve several benefits. The business regains employee time. You’re also more likely to access preferred rates hotels may only offer through a larger corporate database.
Why Automation Adoption Is Growing Rapidly
You don’t need us to tell you we’re living and working in an age of unprecedented tech development! Machine learning is popping up all over top sites as a booming trend for finance teams.
Machine learning is a form of AI that lets software adapt and respond more effectively to your needs. Processes get simpler and smoother the more you use the program. TravelBank, for instance, uses machine learning to predict business trip budgets so you don’t start from scratch every time.
More and more executives are realizing the potential for machine learning to make space for people to get back to the jobs they’re best at, instead of losing time to mundane, repetitive processes. More than half of finance execs expect to adopt machine learning for budgeting, planning, and forecasting in the next 2 years.
5 Tasks to Automate for Improved Business Travel
So where do you start to automate finance tasks? These are some of our top recommendations for manual processes to transition as soon as possible:
These days, many of us live with a mobile device within reach at all times. Tracking expenses can be as quick as snapping a photo on your phone and forwarding a digital receipt to your travel management system. AI and OCR tech built into business expense tracking software can read the receipt and fills in the details, while machine learning drops the expense into the right category on the expense report.
Planning a trip starts with a budget. Software algorithms are much faster than employees at comparing market rates to generate budgets based on real business traveler behavior.
Without a process in place, employees can easily go over budget or lose valuable time going back and forth for supervisor approval. Setting clear parameters keeps employees clear on policy and simplifies automatic booking for approved flights and hotels.
General Ledger Integration
Businesses ranked unintegrated digital tools as a top pain point. You won’t save time if you’re constantly jumping between software systems. A well-integrated tool provides the best time-saving and accuracy benefits.
Automation and AI can lead to a 38% increase in employee engagement. One way to keep employees happy is reimbursing business expenses faster, as soon as 24 hours after an expense report is approved.
The more time-consuming tasks you can automate within a well-integrated system, the likelier it is that you’ll see end-to-end improvements on a complex process like executing a business trip. It’s easier to predict resource needs in advance and follow up with accurate reports afterward.
The end result? More transparent, accurate information that can help optimize productivity and strengthen forecasting abilities in your company.