Whether it’s due to a work-from-home requirement passed down by state or federal governments, or regularly scheduled vacation time during the summer, business doesn’t stop because a person isn’t in the office. Suppliers still expect to be paid, orders need to be placed, and relationships need to be maintained.

Testing Resilience: Are Your Spend Management Processes Showing Cracks?

Even if the COVID-19 crisis has slowed down the flow of goods, put a strain on your cash flow, and hurt revenue projections, things will bounce back. When things are back to business as usual, one thing you need to remember is the complexity that something like this has caused.

If you’ve ever watched one of those restaurant or bar rescue shows, you know that one of the most important ways to see where resources are needed most is to put the place through a stress test. In the shows, such venues are put through the ringer—a packed house for hours on end designed to see how well people respond.

The same goes for your business in a time of crisis—except instead of just seeing how people hold up, this stress test asks whether your processes and technologies are resilient enough to handle it. As a controller, you’ve probably seen stress on a range of things. One of which? Spend management.

For many businesses, especially for those whose processes haven’t evolved in the past decade, cracks are probably beginning to show. A traditional spend management workflow relied on a fax machine, a scanner, and paper—three things that aren’t exactly accessible when everyone’s working from home.

The Dangers of Paper in a Changing Business Landscape

While reliance on paper processes was dangerous when you could be in the office, now it’s unhealthy. According to a recent Institute of Financial Operations (IFO) study, 50% of invoices are still received by paper, 37% by e-mail, and 5% by fax, resulting in 92% of invoices still requiring manual entry. Even more surprising, when respondents were asked how they expect to receive invoices two years from now, they predicted 81% of their invoices would still come in through one of these three methods.

Are You Being Outpaced?

A whitepaper from SAP Concur explored just this, noting that as spend management and compliance requirements continue to outpace the technological capabilities of most organizations, many find their people struggling with outdated expense and invoice management processes – including scanning and uploading paper receipts, filling out expense reports, and manually matching POs, receipts, and invoices.

Not only do paper-, e-mail-, and spreadsheet-based processes waste employees’ time, they limit the ability of finance to control costs and ensure compliance. It was hard enough when your departments were on a different floor, now with everyone working from home, it’s downright nightmarish.

But you probably already knew this. Spend management has long been one of those hassles you just dealt with. Yes, checks take a while to work with, you’ve probably had to make a few calls to correct a payment, or realized that something wasn’t quite right, but it’s the way it’s been done.

Get with the Times: Mobility and Automation Are Vital for Today’s Business

Spreadsheets may seem free, but aren’t. Organizations pay in employee hours, inconvenience and late payments when invoices are tracked and paid on old-fashioned spreadsheets. The True Cost of Invoice Management details these costs, and shows a better way – automating Accounts Payable in the cloud. 

Today’s business needs to be faster than ever, and one way to do this is to focus on automation and mobility. Converting to ePayments has a number of benefits, helping businesses:

  • Improve overall visibility into spending and ultimate cash flow
  • Enhance the speed of payments and depth of information tied to those payments
  • Assist the AP function in leveraging resources into more value-add projects

The Evolving Controller Role Requires an Evolving Controller: Join Us to Learn More

We can’t forget about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on business operations. Consider this stress test a reminder of just how important it is to prepare for the worst even in times of plenty. Stay tuned for all the latest in news and insights focused on the controller by following our organization on LinkedIn and subscribing to our newsletter or check out these additional resources:

Controller’s Guide to Managing Cash During a Crisis

Federal Assistance for Businesses during Coronavirus Outbreak