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Best practices for small business spending

Modern businesses are increasingly looking for ways to streamline their operations and uncover efficiencies, including through simplifying processes and investing in new technology solutions. 

Against the backdrop of rising costs and inflation, this is especially important for all business decision-makers to achieve, as it helps them better protect their bottom line. However, the impacts for smaller businesses can be significant if they find ways to work smarter with leaner teams.

The latest data shows that, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is still increasing, it’s rising at a lower rate than in previous months. Though this is good news for individuals and companies alike, it’s not entirely cause for celebration just yet. As such, it’s critical that businesses of all sizes take the opportunity now to invest in solutions and processes that will help them futureproof their operations and keep costs low as the economic environment continues to fluctuate.

Digital solutions let businesses keep costs low and impact high

Small- and medium-sized businesses are no strangers to finding creative ways to sweat their assets. However, economic pressure can challenge even the most flexible teams, so it’s essential that business leaders can find ways to alleviate pressure on employees and empower them to do their best work as frequently as possible.

One of the most effective ways businesses can streamline their operations is to embrace continued digital transformation and invest in digital expense management solutions. On a fundamental level, expense management solutions let businesses gain greater visibility and control over their expenses, and ultimately create moments that help them run better based on data-driven decisions.

There are three major ways digital expense management solutions can help businesses increase accuracy and visibility, even in volatile economic environments.

1. Access data in real-time

The latest expense management solutions use innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, to simplify the capture, submission, and processing of expense claims for businesses, and to help this happen as early as possible. For example, rather than remembering to collect, retain, photocopy or staple, and submit paper-based receipts, users can capture their expense receipts in real-time using their mobile devices and submit claims on the go. This streamlines the expense process, significantly reduces the potential for errors or lost receipts, and gives employees access to expense data as it happens, which is essential for improving forecasting. This is critical for businesses running lean and competing with challenging economic conditions.

2. Simplify reporting and auditing processes

Digital expense management solutions are essential to help businesses achieve greater accuracy in their reporting and auditing processes, and can be critical tools to help ensure compliance. With near-real-time visibility into cash flow, and the support of big data and analytics, businesses can automate reporting and enhance internal controls for the invoice lifecycle. Teams can also take advantage of the alert functionality to flag duplicate invoices, missed coding requirements, and even unapproved vendors. This helps to reduce the potential for errors in the expense process and helps to create a culture of compliance across the business.

3. Streamline workflows

One of the biggest benefits of digital expense management solutions for smaller teams is the capacity to free up resourcing and redistribute employees onto more high-value activities. Paper-based expense management processes are time consuming and error-prone. Using automated solutions helps streamline the processing time required, which lets employees invest their time elsewhere and contribute to other meaningful, value add activities across the company. This also means businesses can continue to run lean, especially in times of economic uncertainty, without sacrificing quality or compliance. Additionally, freeing up staff to work on other high-value activities can empower businesses to achieve greater scalability and position themselves for future growth opportunities. Building in agile tools and processes early will also ensure companies have the flexibility they need to adapt to forthcoming economic change.

Digital solutions give business decision makers access to more data than they may have previously had, which can be used to make decisions to improve operations more broadly. Leaders can gain insights into data and use these to improve their headcount strategy or to reallocate resources as the business landscape changes.

Investing in a digital expense management solution now ensures businesses will be better positioned in the future to handle economic change, even with lean resourcing. It can also deliver essential insights into operations, which can be harnessed to create new moments of opportunity for the business and its employees.

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Fabian Calle

Fabian Calle

Fabian Calle is the managing director for small and medium business (SMB) at SAP Concur, Australia and New Zealand. With his extensive experience working with SMBs in the computer software industry, Fabian understands the business challenges that SMBs face and how leveraging technologies can streamline business processes.

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