The financial back office is an indispensable component of every company. When it’s streamlined and efficient, it can be an important component of strategic growth.
Unfortunately, financial back-office operations aren’t always seen as a key area for investment. When these operations are overlooked in today's wave of digital transformation, they can end up holding a company back instead of helping it move forward.
Here are 3 ways to ensure your midsize company is fully leveraging its back office as a secret weapon to increase profits, productivity, and efficiency.
1. Assess your back-office efficiency
The normal flurry of everyday work can make it hard to tell when your financial back-office activities are starting to hinder your growth, especially if your company has endured manual processes for decades.
Is your back office overdue for an update? Look for these red flags:
Paper checks and invoices are still taking up real estate. File cabinets stuffed with papers can make finding what you need a time-intensive ordeal. Back-office employees shouldn’t have to waste time hunting down information while keeping track of payments.
Financial and transactional data must be manually entered. It might have been standard practice to enter figures by hand 20 years ago, but today’s technology has transformed the way accountants operate. Efficient back-office systems save time and reduce the risk of human error by minimizing manual data entry.
Accounts Payable processes take a long time to complete. Chasing down approvals and processing invoices shouldn’t take multiple days or weeks. An unnecessarily drawn-out AP process can make closing the books each month a long and tedious process.
Audit trails are incomplete. Back-office employees shouldn’t be left with missing or misplaced documents when it comes time to complete an audit. Manual data entry and paper processes often contribute to incomplete audits as well.
2. Automate your back-office operations
Digital automation can significantly increase your operational efficiency, transforming your financial back office from a burden into a secret weapon.
When you move away from paper and streamline your Accounts Payable—from processing invoices through remote, digital approval and payment—you gain new levels of visibility and transparency into things like cash flow and operating efficiency.
With the data you need at your fingertips, those financial back-office operations can become a genuine strategic advantage.
Once the shift from manual to automatic begins, it’s important to get the entire back-office team on board. Communicate any upcoming changes as soon as possible and maintain transparency to help everyone feel comfortable in their revised roles.
Fortunately, the overwhelming benefits of automation can convince even the most skeptical colleagues to accept digital transformation as a life-changing tool for success. Bill.com clients have experienced time savings of 50 percent on average, allowing accounting staff to deepen their advisory roles in discovering strategic opportunities for growth.
Those extra hours can also be used to invest in more advanced training for employees, helping them become the next generation of financial leaders.
3. Attract top talent by aligning with their values
Younger, tech-savvy employees have new expectations and priorities that don’t align well with traditional back-office processes.
For one thing, the Millennial and Gen Z generations are far more concerned about environmental issues than their Boomer or even Gen X counterparts. As a result, they have a strong aversion to using paper—especially for systems that can be handled digitally.
Combine that with an intense preference for speed and efficiency, and today’s top talent finds it doubly hard to co-exist with paper-based back-office systems.
Although older generations like to claim that younger employees have no patience, it’s more accurate to say they have no tolerance for waste—which is true of both time and money.
That’s a trait every employer should want on their team.
By automating financial back-office systems, employers can attract their pick of today’s up-and-coming talent while running more efficiently, using systems that can scale.
That’s a clear win-win.
How to approach back-office automation
If you’re interested in streamlining your AP with the full power of automation, the good news is that the right tools will integrate with the digital systems you’re already using, like your accounting software.
Bill.com does exactly that, integrating with many of the most popular business accounting systems, making the platform easy to implement, easy to learn, and easy to use.
To learn more about how AP automation can transform your back office, read these next: