Future-proofing and remote working? It’s time for both…

Companies and their Finance and Procurement departments all over the world need to adapt and be agile, in terms of planning, processes, and ways of working to name a few. Then a pandemic hits and your business agility is tested while employees are working remotely.

The concept of working from home has changed. McKinsey has identified that the pandemic has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote working in the past, and set in motion a structural shift to make it happen.

A recent Gartner CFO Survey has revealed that 74% intend to shift employees to remote work permanently. And in a PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term. This makes process automation and working in cloud environments a necessity.

Thankfully, there are many solutions that can be implemented quickly to help and are now at the forefront of operations. For example, using a cloud-based Invoice Management tool to automate the invoicing process while ensuring policies are being met will mean your business can receive, approve, process and pay invoices no matter where people are working and without disruption.

We have seen that anyone relying on paper-based, manual Accounts Payable processes have been massively challenged - how they have been able to receive invoices, how they got orders submitted and approved, and how they paid suppliers, were just a few examples. At best, this was cumbersome, at worst it resulted in suppliers not being paid, and the whole supply chain being disrupted. But “straight-through” invoice processing is readily available, with little or no human interaction.

90% of employers have said that working remotely hasn't hurt productivity. In fact many companies believe that a remote workforce is more efficient, in terms of less time travelling and the ability to work extra if needed. But many still don’t have the right solutions to make this possible.

For example, can employees easily buy specific items and services from authorized suppliers online? Providing employees an easy way to search and buy streamlines the purchase process and drives higher on-contract spend.

Are Procurement teams able to manage and react to risk while working remotely? “High-risk” suppliers need to be carefully analyzed. Can the supplier guarantee that it can continue to supply the goods and services you need? What is the risk to you if the supplier “disappears” overnight? Minimizing the effects of the current situations and challenges to the supply chain will largely depend on the processes and supplier management solutions that are put in place.

Using an automated system to categorize suppliers and classify goods and services means that everybody in the Procurement team can find what they need, based on the right engagements with their required categories. Automation also removes the need for manual supplier record maintenance - another daily cost that can be removed.

Companies should also work with suppliers on how to reduce costs and understand cost structures, including looking at options with suppliers, such as different ways of payment and different ways of managing inventory. It’s important not to keep doing the same thing, just because that's the way it’s always been done. These times call for innovative approaches.

The pandemic has exposed many companies for not being able to react quickly to changing requirements and demands. However, it has also highlighted that many processes can now be done remotely and in much less time. Automating Source-to-Pay processes not only drives efficiency, control and visibility to spend, but can also maximize resiliency and minimize risk. Ultimately, putting in the right solutions for your remote workers can future-proof your business.