In small businesses, processes are implemented to help increase accountability, improve workflow and make things easier for employees.
When implemented correctly, these practices help make businesses run smoothly – but many businesses struggle to select the right processes to adopt, ultimately leading to more inefficiency.
In fact, according to a study published by The Boston Consulting Group, inefficient processes are increasingly being implemented in companies across the U.S. and Europe, dramatically complicating the ways in which businesses operate.
“Over the past fifteen years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies and decision approvals needed by companies has increased by anywhere from 50 percent to 350 percent,” reads the report, which comes to a strong conclusion:
“Complicatedness hurts everything from productivity to employee satisfaction.”
The costs of process inefficiency
In the past, economists have revealed that inefficient processes can cost firms up to 30 per cent of their revenue.
This can have dramatic consequences for small startups trying to survive and thrive in complicated markets.
“Inefficiency can be a death sentence for small businesses,” says Brian Veloso, a senior director at Concur Canada, a company devoted to finding innovative solutions for everyday business practices.
As he explains, this not only occurs because of loss of revenue, but also because of inefficient processes for things like expense reporting, invoicing or travel expenses. These tasks seriously affect stress levels for workers, affecting the quality of their work and their quality of life.
“Let’s face it, no employee enjoys doing expense reports,” he says. “This not only has a negative effect on employee satisfaction, it also raises the chance of human error, which in turn can lead to slowed growth and misinformed scaling.”
Automation as the answer
In order to improve employee satisfaction, avoid human error and reduce the costs associated with poor processes, Veloso suggests that businesses look at new technologies that can dramatically improve a number of processes that are central to running a business.
The best of these solutions include automation for things like invoicing and expense reporting, according to Veloso.
“Automating cumbersome processes allows the finance team and other business units to focus on what matters most to the business,” he explains. “When they have access to the right automation tools, employees don’t need to waste time manually entering expenses and can get back to doing their day to day tasks that are focused on growing the business and driving results.”
In addition to travel, expense and invoicing functions and network maintenance, Veloso suggests that things like marketing and customer support can all benefit from an automated and streamlined approach.
“Expensing is linked to day-to-day operations, employee travel and inventory, and has huge implications on cash flow and revenue," he says.
A tech-based solution
Today, a growing number of companies are offering affordable productivity tools aimed at helping small businesses grow by making some of their processes more efficient.
Companies like Concur are increasingly coming up with tech-based solutions that help automate invoicing and expense reporting in order to provide finance executives with easy to use data that will help them make sound financial decisions for their companies.
“Today’s finance executive has a key strategic role in contributing to their organization's growth,” says Kevin Craig, managing director at Concur Canada. "Leveraging tools and technology, they can find ways to improve operational efficiencies, manage cash flow, drive cost efficiencies, avoid business and compliance risks while empowering employees to make smart decisions"
For Craig, these tools are especially useful for small, emerging companies that need to remain lean in order to be successful.
"These solutions drive great efficiency by accelerating the time that employees spend on processes, improving accuracy and reducing errors, and shortening invoice payment and employee expense reimbursement time frames, all of which are extremely important for small companies," he says.
Concur provides these tech-based solutions through two solutions, Concur Invoicing and Concur Expenses, both of which dramatically reduce the cost – and effort – associated with these time-consuming processes.
For Brian Veloso, pivoting toward tech-based solutions will help growing businesses implement processes that actually do what they are meant to do: increase accountability, improve workflow, and make things easier for employees, saving time and money in the process.
“Organizations using our products can see benefits like time-savings, efficient cash flow management, increased visibility into their business and better reporting,” says Veloso. "Plus, bringing in an automated tool can really free-up the time people use to manually input expenses for more beneficial tasks like relationship building, prospecting and new business development."