In the dynamic world of business, some may not fully understand all the benefits of automation. Automation is often associated with growth because it promotes greater efficiency and enables employees to maximize their time. However, the advantages of this technology go even further.
By tackling repetitive and mundane tasks and allowing you and your team to focus on what truly matters, automation breathes life into innovation, strategic thinking, and your ability to scale. Let's dive deeper into what automation is and its most significant advantages for businesses.
What is automation in business?
Business automation involves technology to streamline tasks and processes to enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and cut costs. It encompasses automating tasks like data entry, customer relationship management, marketing, supply chain management, and financial processes.
Ultimately, automation supports your business or firm's capacity to scale. By simplifying your financial operations, you'll be better prepared to handle more complexity and a greater volume of invoices, often without adding headcount.
Why is automation in business important?
Beyond scaling, automation can help you reduce human error and enhance data accuracy. By automating repetitive tasks like invoicing and expense management, you can save time and resources, and make more informed decisions with real-time visibility into financial data. And with built-in audit trails and other features, you can maintain better regulatory compliance and mitigate risks.
By leveraging automation, businesses can reduce manual errors, improve accuracy, increase efficiency, and free up valuable time for accountants and financial professionals to focus on more strategic and analytical aspects of their roles.
1. Streamline financial operations
One of the most immediate benefits of automation is streamlined financial operations. Here's what you can expect:
Improve efficiency and enjoy increased productivity
Automation empowers you to standardize business processes—internal and external. This allows you to develop and adhere to best practices for handling essential operations. For instance, accounts payable automation equips you to automate bill review and promptly pay vendors—all while reducing the administrative burden on your employees.
Reduce manual errors and bottlenecks
Consider the impact of a simple data entry error, whether entering the wrong number or recording the same transaction twice. For example, something as simple as a finger slip can create an amount due of $14,600 instead of $1,460. You may have to deal with delays or revenue loss when locating and correcting these errors, which can create stress during tax season.
It could still be easy to wave off these errors and chalk them up to the cost of doing business, but this would be a mistake. According to Data Science Central, small businesses lose over $600 billion each year due to human error.
The best automation software can dramatically reduce these errors for businesses by populating data from relevant documents to produce accurate, timely invoices. For example, BILL's Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) uses machine learning to extract invoice and vendor information from documents up to 50 pages in your Inbox or those you attach to a bill.
Some tools even integrate with your financial software to keep your books up-to-date and accurate, virtually eliminating the chances of human error. For example, BILL's integrations enable automatic or on-demand sync with leading ERPs.
Save time and cut costs
Consider the time you're currently investing in repetitive tasks, such as those required in accounts payable and receivable. If you have employees, they may be devoting a significant amount of time to performing repetitive manual tasks.
Automated processes allow you to spend more time on tasks that produce meaningful business results. For instance, accounts payable automation drastically reduces the time you'd have to manage bills manually. You can then reallocate this time toward revenue-generating activities that drive your business forward.
2. Enhance accuracy and compliance
How confident are you in the accuracy of your current business processes? That's an important question, as it also touches on compliance issues that could impact you. However, automation improves your accuracy and ability to stay current with evolving business regulations.
Stay compliant, facilitate audits, and avoid fraudulent activity
One of the main ways financial automation software protects your business is by using internal controls to assign specific roles and permissions to different users and set a clear separation of duties.
For example, one person enters financial transactions, another approves them, and a third initiates payment. This separation minimizes the risk of unauthorized actions, enhancing the integrity of financial operations. You can also use a view-only role to enable auditors and other authorized users to view your information without being able to change it.
Financial automation software can also help create audit trails documenting each action, including who performed it, when it occurred, what changes were made, and payment information. These improve transparency and accountability while making it easier for internal or external auditors to track transactions and verify compliance with regulations and internal policies.
Finally, real-time monitoring of transactions and processes enables you to observe activities as they happen, so you can quickly identify issues and rectify them before they escalate.
For example, BILL Divvy Corporate Cards can be deactivated quickly if suspicious activity is detected and you can easily use multiple virtual cards to add layers of security. And since cards will only work if they've been sent approved funds, you can also prevent unauthorized purchases from happening in the first place and prevent access to funds in other budgets.
3.Increase client satisfaction
Automation isn't just good for your business; it also enhances client experience. Standardizing your processes and service offerings can remove friction and build your reputation.
Provide faster response times
Automated technology can make your clients' lives easier and keep them informed. You can use automated tools to provide real-time data, total transparency, and 24/7 access through a mobile app. As a result, your clients will always be informed regarding how much they're spending or where a bill is in the payment process.
This level of speed and detail can help your business solidify relationships with existing clientele. But it can also help you secure more bids from future clients who value this level of transparency and rapid feedback.
Improve service quality
Automation allows you to nurture these relationships by leveraging the right tools and satisfying the real-world needs of small to midsize businesses.
In a recent survey, BILL discovered that nearly three out of four (72%) small to midsize businesses are looking for a proactive approach to expense management. You can expand your services to meet this rising demand by leaning on automation for your core processes.
In other words, automated tools allow you to expand your services "menu," whereas relying solely on manual processes for services like accounts payable or spend and expense management ties up your resources. Pivoting to an automated solution creates new opportunities to meet clients' business challenges and diversify your revenue streams.
4. Empower your employees
According to the BILL 2023 State of Finance Automation report, more and more businesses see automation playing a pivotal role in empowering teams. Automation can help you develop strategies to attract and retain top talent and keep workers engaged.
Focus on higher-value work
Automation saves valuable time that you can spend on higher-value tasks. As it turns out, this can have a trickle-up effect on your entire workforce. Help workers feel more engaged in their work and better understand the company's larger mission—rather than getting caught up in the minute details. After all, your time is better spent on things like customer service, not data entry.
For example, there's currently a significant talent shortage of accountants and other financial professionals. In light of this, many lack the talent to get work done and also be positioned to scale. Automation software helps by reducing tedious tasks and enables teams to do more with fewer resources.
Foster skill development and job satisfaction
Not every organization can afford to implement entire upskilling or job development initiatives, but leveraging business automation to introduce these possibilities can boost employee engagement and reduce attrition. Employees may be more engaged if they expect to improve their skills by working with your company.
5. Improve scalability and adaptability
Finally, automated systems allow you to make the most of what you have, helping you develop a manageable strategy for growth.
Increased workload without adding resources
Think of the time you can save with an integrated financial automation platform. You can then reinvest this time by expanding your services. You can also use this time to take on new clients without overtaxing your current workforce.
Either way, you're more equipped to complete more work without significantly changing your technology stack or employee headcount. A small investment in automated business tools can pay dividends in expanding your bandwidth.
What can automation do for your business?
So, what can automation do for your company? Quite a bit. BILL's financial business automation solution can improve the accuracy and efficiency of your core processes and give you the flexibility to adapt to changing client demands.
Now is the time to start exploring automation options. Any day not spent performing at peak efficiency is a day you're losing to competitors leveraging the full power of business automation. Take advantage of all the opportunities your business has to improve efficiency, visibility, and get more control over your financial operations.