The terms “big business” and “small business” are often used in business conversations. You hear about how mom and pop businesses and large corporations are gaining big advantages with business process automation, rarely though do you hear much about the value of automation to the mid-size business. There seems to be a fairly logical reason for that — the government doesn’t define what companies do and don’t qualify to be mid-market. It’s generally described as ‘companies larger than small businesses but smaller than big businesses’. Well, that makes it as clear as mud.
Data sources vary on the definition of revenue and number of employees, but Dun & Bradstreet classifies mid-market business as companies with revenues between $10 million and $1 billion per year. With the large amount of organizations that fall into this range, many find themselves struggling to compete in the cutthroat world of business. So, how do you keep your company profitable and processes efficient as a mid-market business? By enhancing your business processes with automation.
Here are four business processes mid-market companies should automate to earn a competitive edge.
Do you have an efficient way to capture order data, fulfill orders quickly and cut processing costs? Order processing is brimming with opportunities for added value and untapped potential. The faster orders can be processed, shipped and accessed means increased customer satisfaction, reduced operational costs, and improved accuracy and visibility. Typical benefits achieved using Esker’s Order Processing solution include:
- Up to 80% faster order processing speeds
- ROI realized in 3-6 months
- Up to 70% lower order-to-cash processing costs
- Increased staff productivity by as much as 65%
Processing orders manually involves multiple touch points that can cost mid-sized companies time and money, and are a source of errors that can directly affect customer satisfaction as well as supply chain efficiency.
The efficiency of your customer invoice process determines the overall cash in the bank so it’s imperative to keep a systematic process of invoicing and following up on payments. Having an automated system that can send reminders to customers before payment is due will certainly help nudge customers along. Keeping track of advance payments received, ensuring correct balance amounts are invoiced and providing the right notifications are best done by an automated workflow process and it would be a fool’s errand to do all of these tasks manually. Do you provide an online option for your customers to pay? Approximately 72% of people prefer self-service options over phone or email support. Failure to meet these expectations means fewer satisfied customers. For companies, it really comes down to if you’re easy to do business with by enabling customers to:
- View invoice information online
- Make payments electronically
- Apply credits to open invoices
- Sign up for auto-pay functionality
- Get questions answered rapidly
The impact of accounts receivable (AR) on business success is unquestionable. Not only is it one of an organization’s largest assets, it deals directly with a different type of asset that doesn’t show up on the balance sheet — your customers. So why then, do so many mid-market organizations still run their customer invoicing processes like it’s the mid-90s? Despite its vital importance, AR is consistently one of the most under-resourced and operationally outdated business processes within mid-sized businesses that should be evaluated.
The buying process for mid-market companies is no longer a straight-line controlled by a seller and a buyer, but rather a journey influenced by many players along its course. In addition to team decisions for buying products and services, your buyers access information influencing their decisions from many sources. How can you streamline and promote communication without any visibility?
Automating the purchase-to-pay cycle streamlines spend management and reduces carrying costs. Introducing automation into your purchasing processes can optimize spend requests as well as goods and services ordering by eliminating paper and manual processing steps . Organizations in the mid-market save time and money normally spent on processing purchase requisition and order forms, as well as benefit from a standardized approval workflow that ensures document accuracy and security.
Thanks to cloud technology, accounts payable (AP) automation is allowing mid-sized businesses to efficiently process vendor invoices the same way large enterprises have been doing for some time. Cloud solutions can easily handle volume changes and are flexible enough to work in nearly any environment. They also eliminate prohibitive IT setup and maintenance costs and allow for super-fast deployment.
Automation of inbound vendor invoices complements most ERPs and provides capabilities to receive inbound invoices by email, fax or scanned document, extract the data, validate the information is correct (e.g. vendor, quantity, amount, GL account, cost center, etc.), provide approver workflow, and create and archive the invoices for your ERP.
Accounts payable automation addresess the limited coordination and reduced transparency within traditional vendor invoice processing as part of the purchase-to-pay cycle. Key benefits mid-market businesses gain after implanting an automation solution include:
- Fast response to invoice payment status calls
- Fixed cost advantages over variable costs
- Improved spending management
- Less time needed to process vendor invoices
- Ability to benefit from early payment discounts
By having all invoices immediately accessible on the web with the option of straight-through processing, you minimize manual work, enable bottom line improvement, improve cash flow control and strengthen trade relations. The benefits of AP automation are wide-ranging and relevant to any industry in today’s competitive business environment.
Mid-market companies are small enough to remain Agile yet large enough to command scale and opportunity. To stay ahead of competition, innovation should be encouraged at all levels of the business. Automating essential business processes, such as order processing, AR, purchasing, and AP in the mid-market allows organizations to take the wheel in improving overall efficiency and productivity.