Automation and Integration: The Keys to a Successful Billing Process
The most forward-thinking decision-makers help their accounts teams collect and report critical data. Thus, accounts teams are becoming more and more important when looking towards the future success of an operation. Despite this essential role in monetary acquisition, the accounts team is often seen as little more than a support for the sales team.
How are you managing your accounts process right now? Because, much like your sales team, accounts teams need to be empowered by their software to solve payment problems and ensure the steady flow of cash in and out of the business.
Most businesses are familiar with the tedium that is a manual accounts process, because regardless of an organization’s size, they all face the same challenges, like chasing down payments and keeping on top of their fiscal responsibilities, like payroll and rent. An equally large number of these businesses would thus benefit from these processes being completed in a timely manner, because the faster you address fiscal responsibilities and invoice clients, the quicker you and your accounts staff can move on to more productive ventures.
When your billing process is slow, ineffective and potentially inaccurate, you are putting yourself at risk of missing discount opportunities, incurring late fees, missing out on payments or even damaging your reputation – should inefficiencies and slow turn around persist. Fortunately, through an integrated and automated billing process, many of these challenges and inefficiencies can be eliminated. By establishing the elements of integration and automation, a seamless flow of accurate information can move from previously disparate entities, increasing accuracy of information while reducing the time it takes to preform accounts-related tasks. The automation and integration of billing processes critical may seem difficult to achieve, but with an ERP the benefits can be easily realized.
Increase Accuracy and Reduced Risk
When you automate the flow of data to your accounts receivable and accounts payable, the errors most likely to result from manual input are eliminated. Manual errors range from simple typos to completely misread data. Human error can also stem from the multi-user nature of many manual billing processes. With a plurality of collaborators between departments, a game of telephone is being played with your data, and sooner or later, someone is going to mishear.
Automation alone isn’t enough for many businesses, because their valuable data exists in distinct and separate software ‘silos,’ so to speak. However, the seamless automated flow of data is easily achievable in an ERP system that has broken down the silos. Automation and integration can be salvation for your billing department, collecting relevant data, such as product details for the items on the invoice by referring to pre-existing data, eliminating the need for error-ridden re-entry.
Certainty Through Visibility
It should come as no surprise that in business, lacking knowledge of your operation can be an extremely shortcoming. The problem facing many companies is that a lack of integration between various departments and billing results in limited visibility of the company’s overall position. Constant visibility is not a luxury, but rather an essential aspect of efficient operations in today’s technologically empowered market.
An ERP system affords clients working in the system confidence in their understanding of the company’s fiscal position through visibility. In many powerful ERP systems, custom reports and dashboards can be generated instantly, saving hours of time gathering data and compiling that data into the reports you need. Simultaneously, integrating your data silos into a single system from which reports are drawn provides decision-makers with accurate, real time reports. And this is only achievable where integration meets automation.
Though everyone likes to think their business runs at maximum efficiency, the reality is that people are people, and things inevitably fall through the cracks. Critically though, when even one thing falls through the cracks of your billing department, the results can be crippling. Fortunately, when your billing department is benefiting from automation, and drawing from integrated data, you can be certain that invoices and outgoing payments will go out to the right person at the right time.
That on-time billing and payments are a good thing should go without saying, but more specifically, when invoices and payments are sent out quickly, there is more opportunity to take advantage of potential discounts and avoid incurring late penalties. Further, a quick invoicing system means a positive experience for your customers, as well as money in your pocket quicker; a win-win situation for each party.
Security and Records
The single most ubiquitous worry we hear from companies looking to adopt an ERP system revolves around the security of their data. A lot of your most sensitive information, including client and company bank information, moves around in the financial department, so the focus on security is sensible, but largely unwarranted. Though it is not universal among all ERPs, the high-quality systems offer superior security.
Beyond simply securing your data, an integrated system ensures that important information is available when creditors, debtors, or government bodies come with complaints of missed payments. With an ERP system, you can easily track down payments and critical information, including when payments were received, who received the payment, what the payment was for and why it was made. Acquiring this information can often take hours of hunting down employees and files when your company operates with unorganized computer files, or worse yet; paper records. Through detailed automated record keeping, ERP platforms provide you with the comfort of knowing that as long as your work is done correctly, your secure records will back you up against potential complaints.
One of the biggest threats to your continued success is the time your staff wastes, often on automatable tasks like invoicing. Why waste your staff’s time with jobs that could be handled more quickly and effectively by a few lines of code? Effective automation of accounts frees up the valuable time of your decision-makers and accounts staff, enabling them up to complete projects that actually grow the business. A manual accounts process is simply impractical in a world where technology is readily available that can do that same thing, only better.
Visibility is another element of the equation. Through real-time, automated and integrated data reports, company leaders can gain a better understanding of where their business is at. Among the things discoverable are potential bottlenecks in the flow of products and information, which can be caused by inefficiency on the part of the employee, or extreme volumes in one department, requiring more staff to manage. With the visibility afforded to decision-makers by an ERP, mismanagement and misuse of time is more visibly accessible than ever.
Making the Match
With your accounts team under constant pressure to increase output, improve speed and better use company funds, it’s a wonder that more companies haven’t set up an ERP sooner. Whether because of some dedication to the old way of doing things, or fear of security and expense, many companies fail to move forward with an integrated and automated accounts process. In doing so they are robbing themselves of accuracy, timeliness and man hours otherwise dedicated to bettering the company. Beyond saving your staff time and increasing accuracy, ERPs can help to standardize your process, reducing errors, discrepancies, and procrastinating. Through the seamless switch to electronic accounts process available to ERP users, companies can rest assured that their information is accessible to the right people at the right time, enabling your team to work like a well-oiled machine.