Top Digital Working Tools for Business Simplification
June 28, 2023

Now more than ever as business leaders or management, we are having to accept change in working styles, location and process to adapt to the changing landscape. Cast your mind back to pre-pandemic times (ah… the good old days), and how purchase invoices were received was pretty much irrelevant as all staff members were office based. It didn’t matter as much if a high proportion of invoices were received through the post and likewise it didn’t matter what tools were used to gain authorisation of invoices as majority of approvers would be in an office location.

But fast forward just a few months and we all remember how quickly businesses had to adapt to the challenges faced by the pandemic. Although undoubtedly stressful to handle at the time, retrospectively there is a silver lining to be found, as we now can’t imagine life without digitalisation and the simplicity it has provided many of us. 

ERP and accounting solution authors have had to evolve in the same way, recognising the shift of finance functions from these hidden departments that only come out of hiding once per month to inform the business of its status of cash flow, budgets and management accounts, to these open, collaborative, knowledgeable and informative departments with tools at their disposal to now enlighten many users outside of its own department. This type of evolution was, and is only possible, through digital transformation. 

Let’s take Sage Intacct as an example; this product is one of the front runners in its way of thinking of the end user and its cloud native approach. I call it one of a limited number of applications that has a focus on the contributor to the application, meaning the 95% of people outside of the finance department rather than just the 5% in it. The embedded tools and data available to aid these specific roles would have typically been either been controlled by finance- or worse- only available to enterprises who could afford it. Intacct recognised this gap and built a solution to fulfil this requirement ahead of the demand curve.  

So, what can we expect in further simplification processes for business utilising digital working tools and data? 

Here are my top 2- and yes, a slightly biased view, but an accurate one all the same. 

1. Buy from anywhere, record from anywhere, account for from anywhere: 

Online Buying- Punch-out, Punch-in, Vendor Plug-in. 

Just 5 years ago how we purchased and how we accounted for purchases could have not been any more different. B2B could not have been any more disconnected if it tried; telephone orders, email orders, even large categories on print to shift through, place with manual order pads and duplicated error prone processes. If a business expected you to transact in that way for your personal purchases, you would avoid it as it is simply too much hassle, yet somewhere we have been accustomed to this in business and it became the norm. Well, until now…

Here we find technologic advancements that allow the simplicity of purchasing for business become more aligned with B2C, removing duplication, the need for training, complicated processes but also allowing for both SMB’s & SME’s to have real insights into costs well before the invoice has arrived- a true cash flow. 

These two technology types are enabling businesses of all sizes to transact with vendors digitally, record the purchase (where required), apply costs to budget or nominals (where applicable), and even automate any pre-authorisation prior to the placement of orders, all done by simply placing an order on a vendor’s website- the rest is all done for you behind the scenes. 

These types of technology should allow for activation within minutes for every vendor globally, meaning that business owners have a true account of commitments and cashflow, budget holders (buyers) remove the need for labor intensive and at times duplicated tasks, but most of all invoices are on average accurate first-time round. 

2. Spend data driving informative current and future spend decisions 

If a business only knew what it was spending its money on and what the average market price was for these items, then we would in effect be able to make better decisions on what to buy from where, combined with the automation of online buying. You might say we already have this data in our accounting system, but this is simply not the case with majority of businesses for a couple of reasons.  

The first is that bills are typically registered in some AP Automation solutions and the majority of ERP solutions summarised by vendor, rather than segmented as the bill portraits using items codes, descriptions and even industry standard ASIN codes. The second reason is these allocations lack the categorisation at item level to truly group together costs incurred under typical procurement categories by geography. The third and final element is without knowing what similar businesses are paying, it’s hard to make the data be of any use to drive information. 

But this where the magic of these new innovations come in. The data that is captured and stored from bills received is truly valuable for future analysis; it can inform the smallest and largest of businesses of activity that can simplify processes as well as optimising spend. These products hold large data lakes of information that can give real-time insight to business that they never thought possible. In such times of squeeze where costs being incurred are at an all time high, this type of data can even become a profit centre in its own right.

These reporting tools represent a final shift away from this type of service being reserved for enterprises or businesses with large spend levels that can afford big data. Data really is paving the way for the future in data visualisation. 

Compleat have a whole host of solutions no matter where you are in your finance automation journey. Looking for some more specific information? Read more about each of our products here:

Digital Invoice Capture

AP Automation

Integrated Online Buying

Purchase-to-Pay (P2P)