The pandemic accelerated the need for businesses to adopt a digital-first approach to meet consumer demands, empower a hybrid workforce, and realise growth in the long term. Now, it’s more apparent than ever just how many of our manual, time-consuming work processes have the potential to be digitalised and automated and - thanks to some nifty innovations - it’s becoming even easier for businesses to do so.
Automation fosters a smarter way of working which reduces costs and increases profitability along the way, and even small changes can have a big impact. Here, we explain how and why it should be the next big priority in your transformation strategy, so you can take the first steps towards future-proofing your business.
The first steps towards automation
Digitalising the document management process is the most effective way to optimise processes and lay the foundations for automation. With innovative technologies, all the documents that flow through a business can be stored and managed digitally: even unstructured data, which is projected to make up around 80% of the world's data by 2025, can be managed and leveraged with the right solutions.
The ability to digitally capture information - to scan and convert physical documents into computer processable, instantly retrievable, structured data – allows businesses to cut down on the space and costs required to store physical files, in favour of easily accessible digital archives. Eliminating paper-based processes altogether can actually reduce document-related costs by as much as 40%!
Taking it a step further, businesses are able to build automated workflows from the newly digitalised data, in which documents are routed to the right people instantly and all progress, or lack thereof, is automatically tracked and highlighted along the way.
Who can benefit?
Research shows that in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of workday activities have the potential to be automated. Although cost savings and efficiency gains can indeed benefit a whole company, there are some specific departments and processes for which automation is particularly transformative, such as HR or Finance departments. Accounting departments have the option of bespoke or out-of-the-box products designed specifically for the accounts payable process, so if you’re asking yourself ‘will I see any improvements?’ or ‘will this work for us?’, the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’. Our customers have reported drastic improvements, cutting invoice approval times by a staggering 70-80%, and processing costs by 50-80%.
But what does automation actually do?
Put simply, the software eliminates repetitive manual tasks in an auditable and highly transparent way, to turn repetitive processes into a seamless and efficient operation. Using AP automation is a perfect example; businesses can benefit from automated invoice validation, instant error, and compliance checks, which streamline the entire invoice-to-reconciliation process and eliminate costly issues like duplicate payments or over-payments. Invoices can be routed into a multi-step approval process with split code billing for multiple approvals, so processes don’t slow down when moving from person-to-person. To speed things up even more, invoices under a set value threshold can be pre-approved, and approved invoice amounts can be posted directly back into ERP and finance systems.
Harnessing reporting dashboards makes it easier for decision-makers to distinguish their top suppliers from those that represent a hidden cost to the business due to inaccurate invoice submissions. Having visibility over the process means teams can instantly see when an invoice was recorded, where it is in the workflow, or who accessed it last. What's more, because everything is securely archived in a centralised repository, it means compliance and continuity can be assured no matter what circumstances arise.
How do Toshiba implement their solutions?
Since our automation solutions are software-based, it means we can quickly and easily deploy them for our customers. This involves overlaying and integrating the software with your current systems, so there’s no need to replace or upgrade your existing investments. All workflows are pre-configured and can be tailored to business’ needs, and with our collaborative approach, users receive all the skills training they’ll need to feel confident with their new and improved processes. A huge bonus is the fact our solutions can work either on-premises or in the cloud, so there’s an option no matter your preference. None of this means that business’ need to jump into automating all of their processes entirely; we give customers the flexibility to start with just one function in one department, such as Finance or HR, and then build out automation across departments over time, if that’s what works best for them.
We’ll take the time to learn your priorities and challenges, and to become familiar with your processes so we can understand the pain-points you’re facing. We’ll provide recommendations, and then design and implement the exact tools you’re looking for. The key thing to remember about automation, and working with Toshiba, is that neither take a one-size-fits all approach, and both represent a smarter, greener, slicker way of doing things.
Setting SMBs on the path to smoother, more accurate, future-proofed operations is a rewarding challenge for us at Toshiba. Digitalisation and automation can add significant value for a business and its employees, which is why we’ve already helped so many businesses to transform their processes. Want to learn more about automation?Get in touch to find out more