Although companies have been digitalizing on a large scale for years, it is clear that one department has been neglected: the Administrative and Financial Department.
What’s more, the current health crisis and the resulting upheaval in the way that work is organized have highlighted the difficulties encountered by these support functions. When working remotely, many people have been held back by an outdated or poorly thought-out system, or have been unable to access the tools they need to perform their tasks.
The numbers are clear! According to a study conducted by the firm FSN among professionals in the accounting and financial sector:
- 46% of them were unable to carry out tasks usually performed manually in the office;
- 41% found it difficult to share paper documents; and
- 36% had limited remote access to workplace solutions.
Digitalizing finance functions – a necessity
Although many departments are going digital, with a move to paperless, automated processes, finance functions often continue to work with their existing software and tools. Spreadsheets and manual processes remain a part of their daily life.
However, in addition to being extremely time-consuming, this process is also a source of errors, and can weigh heavily your employees’ morale. It has to be said that even if you like working with numbers, spending a whole day in front of an Excel spreadsheet isn’t exactly inspiring.
It is therefore essential that the financial departments of mass-market retailers (hypermarkets & supermarkets, specialized superstores, and DIY superstores) are equipped with tools allowing them to:
- Automate manual and repetitive processes;
- Limit the most time-consuming activities (such as duplicate entries); and
- Considerably reduce the risk of errors.
But above all, accounting software will allow you to unify all of your company’s data. Obviously, there is a practical aspect to this: everything will be in one place. These tools will provide you with real-time information and will be an essential aid for strategic decision-making. This is what we call Business Intelligence (BI)!
Still have doubts? Here are five reasons to digitalize your accounting functions!
#1 – To optimize expense report processing
According to a study, the average cost of an expense report is €53. The average processing time is 30 days, from generating the expense report to it being reimbursed, including manager control and accounting validation.
This is especially true for mass-market retailers or large groups, where thousands of employees can submit expense claims at the same time, overloading the accounting department.
For the company, the employees involved in the process lose time that they could have spent on their main assignments.
An expense report application will streamline the process, reducing processing time by a factor of 4. It’s simple: users take a picture of their receipts via their expense report application and the intelligent recognition tool (OCR or smartscan) extracts all the essential information! The expense report is then submitted for approval, validated, and booked in the accounting system.
On the administrative side, an expense report solution also allows you to accurately track employee expenses, to ensure that the expense policy is respected, and to view individual expense categories.
To fit your company’s needs and specificities, the expense report software you choose must be flexible and adaptable. You need to be able to set up a validation workflow that suits your company.
#2 – To reduce your supplier payment period
Did you know that in 2020, the average late payment period among large groups was 8.1 days? (Source: Arc/Ifop). For 22% of the companies surveyed, this was because their validation process was too long!
It is clearly possible that paper-based invoicing processes, where invoices are sent by post, will have been undermined during the successive lockdown periods.
You can see that digitizing the supplier invoice payment process will save precious time for the accounting department, and even more so in the mass-market retail sector. The advantages of such a project are:
- Automated data entry and reconciliation;
- Information certified by cross-checking algorithms; and
- Simplified payments (direct debit, bank transfer or credit card).
In addition to saving time, digitizing the supplier process will give you better visibility of payments (past and future).
#3 – To simplify your invoice collection process
Having to chase customers to pay an invoice is extremely time consuming for your accounting department. However, it is essential, especially given that 30% of invoices not paid within 90 days of their due date are never recovered! (Source: Atradius)
So, invoice collection is clearly a key issue! The available solutions offer different options, they may simply generate lists of customers to chase or can send out automatic emails.
Most importantly, your team will have real-time access to all your cash flow indicators!
#4 – To facilitate decision making with real-time accounting data
Freeing up time and automating repetitive tasks are not the only benefits of digitalization!
By equipping yourself with high-performance accounting or expense management software, you also unify your data. Centralized and visible at a glance, this information will become a key element in your decision making.
Accounting software gives you access to real-time or predictive data. As you can see, this data is essential for optimizing daily management and will help you to guide your company by making informed decisions. This is information governance!
According to a study, 75% of companies consider that cash flow forecasts are a crucial issue in managing the company (source: Mazars). It’s therefore high time to use digitalization tools to support the strategy of your mass-market retail brand (hypermarkets & supermarkets, specialized superstores, and DIY superstores)!
#5 – To save money and help your employees to grow
As you know, your accounting department is plagued by repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as duplicating data from one table to another, or checking that different documents contain matching information.
By digitalizing your accounting functions, you will be able to eliminate low value-added tasks. Ultimately, you will save money, since automation and verification algorithms drastically reduce the risk of errors and save you precious time.
But above all, by releasing your employees from repetitive and time-consuming tasks, you put them in a position of control, rather than just production! This allows them to really focus on their high value-added assignments.
You will have understood that digitalizing your accounting functions is essential to save time and money, but above all it will facilitate the work of your employees and allow you to make informed decisions.