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By some estimates, the global market for business process outsourcing will reach $215.9 billion by 2026. At the same time, McKinsey reports that “currently demonstrated technologies can fully automate 42 per cent of finance activities, and mostly automate a further 19 per cent”.

Financial processes are particularly smart opportunities to take off your plate through either automation or outsourcing, as many involve a sufficiently high degree of manual, repetitive processes that they can be easily automated.

Outsourcing financial activities frees up team resources that can be reallocated to other initiatives. Automating tasks, where possible, minimises the risk of human error and streamlines workflows, whether by connecting data between disparate systems, scraping data from emails to be imported into ERPs or other portals, matching and comparing data, or triggering communications.

The following are more than a dozen financial processes that can be taken off your plate through outsourcing and automation:

1. Payroll outsourcing

Outsourcing your payroll involves delegating regular payroll runs, reporting, and compliance requirements to an external third-party (which may or may not incorporate an element of automation into its processes).

2. Expense reimbursement

Depending on a business’s size and the scope of its expense reimbursement program, processing reimbursement requests can quickly become backlogged when excessive manual effort is required. Automating some or all of this process creates clearer workflows, notifies approvers automatically when required, and improves visibility for all parties.

3. Customer verification and account set-up

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, customer service has become a key differentiator amongst brands. With customers demanding increasingly high levels of service, automation can support low-level tasks—such as initial customer verifications and account set-up steps—so that your employees can focus on delivering a greater level of personal care.

4. Purchase order processing

Whether outsourced or automated, delegating purchase order processing elsewhere won’t just save time and free up resources. It may also give your business a competitive edge, as more than half of the Chief Purchasing Officers surveyed as part of Gartner’s Procurement & Operations Leadership Council reported underutilising automation technologies.

5. Invoicing and accounts receivable (AR)

Getting your company’s invoices paid on time is essential for cash-flow management and long-term business sustainability. But managing your invoicing and accounts receivable (AR) by hand can be time-consuming and risks manual error disrupting your inbound payments

Automated invoicing and AR solutions—like the eInvoicing offered by Canon Business Services ANZ (CBS)—lets you go 100% paperless by automatically exchanging information between the invoice processing programs. Even better, it’s Peppol-compliant and has the potential to save your company up to 70% off its usual processing costs.

The Peppol framework is growing in demand and is changing the way businesses operate when it comes to invoicing. With its eInvoicing capabilities, Peppol is creating a more secure and standardised way of transmitting invoice data. Through the use of approved service providers, called access points, Peppol is bringing efficiency and accuracy to the capture and processing of invoice data on a national level. By exchanging information between accounting systems of purchasers and suppliers, Peppol's framework is streamlining payment times, increasing accuracy, and eliminating late payment penalties. It's a simple and effective finance automation tool that promises to change the way businesses operate.

6. Accounts payable (AP)

On the other end of the payments spectrum, take a closer look at automated accounts payable.

A partner like CBS makes it possible to capture invoice data, match captured data (including multiple line items), and pair invoices with outstanding POs automatically. Workflows can be reviewed, modified, and approved easily, speeding up your AP processing, reducing your overhead, minimising errors, and improving compliance. All this can be achieved without the need for costly ERP system changes.

See how NZ Safety Blackwoods reduced costs and drove greater efficiency and accuracy in their AP workflows with CBS.

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7. Application processing

In addition, the processing of all types of financial applications can be simplified with either an outsourced or automated solution. In the case of automation, RPA makes it possible to gather documents from different systems, interpret the data gathered, make decisions using customised calculations and algorithms, and update customer records as needed.

8. Customer renewals

Processing customer renewals manually is no longer necessary when automation is brought into the picture. Automation technology can be used to determine which customers are nearing their renewal date, trigger timely messaging delivery, and even update customer records as renewals are processed.

9. Loan underwriting

The lending sector is increasingly shifting towards automation, both to optimise processing times and to improve accuracy in risk forecasting. Although this ‘auto-underwriting’ may not necessarily be used to make final decisions on credit applications, it can streamline the intake of client documentation, standardise formats for processing, apply algorithms that assess initial risk level, and suggest next steps on individual loans.

10. Customer credit checks

Either as part of the loan underwriting process or within any other credit application workflow, automation can be used to eliminate the manual effort associated with completing customer credit checks.

11. Financial reporting

Whether financial reporting should be outsourced or automated depends on the degree and type of support needed. The use of outsourced accounting services and fractional CFOs is expected to grow in Australia over the next few years amongst organisations that need support in key areas, but can’t justify a full-time hire.

At the same time, new tools and technology can be used to automate data interpretation and reporting, further streamlining the process of generating critical financial insights.

12. Tax compliance reporting and forecasting

The use of tax compliance software for reporting purposes is well-established. However, opportunities still exist to improve forecasting—especially in cases where interim processes occur in disparate systems. Implementing RPA improves the accuracy of provisional tax calculations and decreases cycle times for tax processing.

13. Regulatory audit compliance

Like many highly regulated industries, the banking sector is subject to regular compliance audits. Preparing for these audits manually requires a tremendous amount of labour—alternatively, RPA can reduce this effort by automatically preparing a number of key reports to support your staff.

Ultimately, outsourcing and automating these and other financial activities empowers your staff, enabling them to redeploy their focus to higher-priority work that helps your business grow.

For more on how financial process automation and outsourcing can help optimise your operations, get in touch with the team at Canon Business Services ANZ for personalised guidance.

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