Enhancing efficiency in Finance operations: Bridging the “Automation Gap” 

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, automation is a crucial driver of efficiency and productivity. However, our "Automation Across Nations" research has revealed a significant challenge within Finance departments, and specifically in Accounts Payable systems, of an “Automation Gap”.  

Below are some of the impacts this gap is having on the efficiency of Finance teams, and the opportunities for mid-market organisations to optimise their operations through the power of automation. 

The impact of the “Automation Gap”:
85% of organisations indicated that the use of some form of automation in their finance processes, however, the study has uncovered a considerable disparity between automated and manual processes. Procurement and Finance professionals spend over a day each month reconciling supplier invoices, dedicating an average of 8.8 hours to this critical task. Surprisingly, they allocate only a fraction of their time, approximately 9.9%, to assess new technologies, suggesting a pressing need to bridge the automation gap. 

The dominance of manual processes:
Adding to the challenge is the continuation of paper-based invoicing, with more than a fifth of invoices (21.6%) still being processed in physical form. This over-reliance on manual processes introduces a host of inefficiencies, including time-consuming workflows, heightened cash flow risks, and increased potential for human errors. It is essential for organisations to recognise the significant advantages that automation offers in terms of mitigating delays, reducing errors and avoiding financial penalties. 

Using a modular approach:
To address the critical issues posed by the automation gap, mid-market organisations should embrace a modular approach to automation. Rather than investing in expensive, all-in-one solutions, they can strategically prioritise specific areas within their Finance departments where automation can yield the greatest return on investment. 

By implementing targeted modular software, such as Proactis’ Source-to-Pay solution, businesses can streamline their accounting processes, establish robust workflows, and free up valuable time to focus on strategic planning. A modular approach ensures seamless integration into existing organisational structures, minimising disruption and risk. 

Unlocking the benefits:
Bridging the automation gap offers a multitude of benefits, ranging from enhanced efficiency to optimised cash flow management. By embracing automation, businesses can ensure timely payments of sales invoices, reducing the risk of late payment fees and strengthening supplier relationships. Automation also reduces errors and increases productivity in various other areas of finance, enabling faster processing and payment of invoices. 

Our research reveals that 39% of respondents possess the ability to forecast their cash flow three months in advance, providing them with stability and safeguarding against potential disruptions. Notably, the UK leads the way in cash flow management, with nearly half of businesses (47%) possessing this capability. However, 11% of organisations can only forecast for the upcoming month, leaving them more vulnerable to unexpected expenses or revenue downturns.

Unlocking potential growth:
Implementing automation can be a transformative step for businesses, empowering them to gain greater control over their spending and supply chain. However, mid-market organisations often encounter obstacles such as cost considerations and the need for immediate benefits. To conquer these challenges, a modular approach to automation emerges as a practical and cost-effective solution. 

By selectively deploying modular software solutions in specific areas, businesses can optimise their Finance operations without incurring substantial expenses. This approach allows for incremental improvements and adaptability to changing market conditions. The study reveals that 65% of respondents find modular solutions the most attractive option for the mid-market, showcasing the growing interest in targeted automation solutions. 

Our "Automation Across Nations" report brings to light the prevailing automation gap within Finance operations, particularly in AP systems. It amplifies the significance of bridging this gap to enhance efficiency, optimise cash flow, and elevate overall performance. By embracing a modular approach to automation, mid-market organisations can unlock the benefits without incurring significant costs or disruptions. Closing the automation gap empowers businesses to adapt to market changes, establish robust financial strategies, and unleash their full growth potential.  

Delve deeper into the insights and recommendations of our
research here.