The accounts receivable (AR) automation market is expected to double in value to $3 billion by 2024, but research shows that nearly half (49%) of global businesses are stuck using legacy AR processes. Why? 71% of business executives don’t understand what the technology is and how it can create positive cashflow. However, with supply chain problems and inflationary pressures looming, the need for businesses to understand the technology in order to ensure they are being paid on time never felt more pressing.
A new research report titled “The Current State of AR, Automation”, highlights the opportunity as 200 executives were surveyed to explore the results of AR automation adoption. While we see many successes with AR automation adoption, there are still several barriers keeping businesses from reaching the true potential growth they could achieve if they simply opted for an automated AR solution.
Nearly half of respondents admitted they are stuck using legacy AR processes. Automation does mean removing some of the human side of a business’ operations, but arduous AR activities and manual payment orchestration is costing many companies money. It has never been truer that time is money, and AR automation, built for optimization, is helping many businesses streamline their AR operations to the benefit of the wider business.
It is understandable that businesses may have concerns about switching to an automated service, but embracing technology and delivering a better level of service keeps all parties satisfied.
Understanding the AR automation gap
This new report found that 49.5% of businesses’ current AR processing was either completely manual or mostly manual. Fragmented automation can be almost as damaging as none at all, as companies are missing out on vital streamlining opportunities and the chance to meet their payments deadlines, invoicing targets and keep the end customer satisfied.
To maximise the benefit of automation, companies need to step away from legacy processes, retire manual payment orchestration and embrace full automation. Our survey results found that 89% of businesses that have automated AR processes are getting paid within their agreed payment terms or faster, making cash flow management easier and minimising financial losses due to slow, laborious processing.
Barriers to fully automated AR processes
All businesses have their own unique approach to the AR processes, and making a full switch to automation may be met with scepticism or even fear. When asked, 71% of executives confirmed that a lack of understanding over what technology is available topped the reasons for not implementing more automation. Other common reasons include concerns about negative impacts on customers (59%), resistance to change (58%) and worries about automation taking the human element out of the business (47%).
Typical AR management is manual and time-consuming. While this may seem inefficient to new employees and technological innovators, for many people, it is all that they know. Changing to processes that minimise the human factor can be daunting, therefore, it is important for stakeholders and decision-makers to demonstrate clearly why AR automation is the best option as we advance. We often hear from our customers that fully automating AR processes has seen an increase in efficiency and job productivity, as time isn’t being taken up by invoice chasing. AR teams need to know their value and understand how automation will make their jobs easier, not become their replacement.
Why end-to-end AR automation benefits all aspects of your business
Organisations that have implemented automation technology are seeing substantial benefits. Automating AR improves merchant services in a number of ways. The most common benefits include improved productivity of the AR team (67%), increased customer satisfaction (67%) and also improved customer retention (56%). As already discussed, the most compelling benefit of AR automation is to speed up the payments process, with 89% of respondents with mostly automated AR processing, seeing payment terms met or paid early. More efficient cash flow can only serve to positively impact the business and provide everyone involved with an improved level of service.
An accounts receivable automation system removes the risk of human error, typing mistakes and lost documentation. Automation offers efficiency and speed, which in turn leads to reduced costs in payment orchestration and processing. It also allows you to redirect your people, allowing them to dedicate more time to complex problems and enhance customer service and experience focus.
To succeed in the fast-paced B2B world, businesses must be ready to modernise and exploit the latest technologies. New payment and AR automation technologies exist to help you move your business forward and remain competitive. Failing to adopt fully automated AR processes may not be costing your business money yet, but it will in the long term.