By Ryan Demaray, Managing Director of SMB, SAP Concur
Last year was a year of uncertainty for many businesses, and their efforts focused on getting through each day as best as possible, with many putting plans for future expansion on the back burner. The global pandemic required SMBs to reassess their plans, operations, and technology, finding new ways to work and succeed.
As the world approaches brighter days and restrictions continue to ease, it’s now time for businesses to get back on track with plans for growth. In fact, a recent BrandConnect study, commissioned by SAP Concur, found that executives are optimistic about their organization’s financial outlook in the next 12 months (74 percent). However, if there’s anything the pandemic taught us, it’s that while we can’t control everything that happens, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to be nimble and take the steps to “futureproof” their business.
Building a strong financial foundation is one element of futureproofing. And a vital part of sound financial footing is to have the right tools and technologies in place that improve compliance and spend visibility. As businesses plan for what’s ahead, they should ensure they’re taking the right steps that will help them get spending under control and their future on the right track.
Get true visibility into spend in one simple place
SMBs can only control spending when they can see it, and they can only move forward when they know what they have to spend. Thus, the importance of tools that can integrate spending – from corporate cards, personal cards, purchasing cards, and even cash – into a single, digital process that can be both seen and managed.
Such technology gives business leaders the ability to view data that is gathered automatically and available almost instantly. This insight can help businesses find cost saving opportunities and filter out any spending decisions that they were not previously aware of. Business leaders can make more informed decisions and adjust the payment process to meet budgets. Overall, using a single digital platform means faster communication and give organisations deeper views into contracts and sourcing.
Incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help improve processes
Many businesses hear “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” and think it means complex technology. While that may be true on the backend, the reality is that AI and ML isn’t complicated to implement and use. In fact, it can make it much easier for businesses to run technology and free up employees’ time to manage more meaningful, business critical tasks.
By investing in cutting-edge technology, businesses can focus on development and growth. AI and ML can help to cover a range of responsibilities including measuring data and automating processes and can also enhance employee engagement. When it comes to finances, AI and ML can be combined with the expertise of people to identify fraud and remediate issues – before they have an impact on the company’s bottom line more efficiently and effectively. AI can be added to existing applications, making the installation process simple.
Preapprove and audit every expense report
These days, adding an extra layer of cost control is crucial in order to ensure a business remains successful. Pre-approval audits give employees the opportunity to correct any mistakes and quickens their reimbursement time. Additionally, audits can help to identify non-compliant purchases that are being made and can give insight into potential dangers. Adding pre-purchase approvals and auditing expense controls can easily be done by implementing the right policies, procedures, and tools.
Manage regulations and requirements with automatic certainty
Changes to tax regulations have taken place in various countries, some partly due to the pandemic. It can be challenging to keep up with new rules and ensure the company is compliant. Tax solutions are available that implement AI and ML technology to help businesses stay ahead of tax and regulatory requirements, such as Concur Tax Assurance. These solutions can help businesses save money and invest funds back into budgets where they can continue driving growth and improvement.
The past year impacted many SMBs in different ways. What is consistent for all businesses as we approach a post-pandemic phase globally is the need to look towards a positive future that involves growth and success. And what is key for all businesses in order to achieve a bright future is to examine their financial policies and practices, learn from the past, and implement the right tools and technologies that will help them move forward in the right direction.