Why Digital Finance Transformation Is Critical During a Downturn By Sarah Murphy September 16, 2022 We can’t predict what the next great disruption in the world of finance will be, but we can prepare our companies to handle it as well as possible by building a foundation of resiliency and agility. In order to get to the point of being able to weather unknown storms, digital transformation — as cliché as the term may be — is a necessity. Automation and real-time insights are and will continue to be crucial as businesses move into an unpredictable economic future. So, let’s take a look at what automation and insights can do for your company right now in order to set you up for success well into the future. Contents hide How to Utilize Finance Automation Benefits of Finance Automation Why Real-Time Insights Are Important How Mesh Provides Finance Automation and Real-Time Insights How to Utilize Finance Automation With automation as one of the driving forces of change in finance, there are an array of tasks that finance teams should be seeking to automate (if they haven’t already). Here are just a few ideas of places to start when it comes to automating finance operations. Accounts Payable Accounts payable and accounts receivable are both major timesuckers that can be automated in a multitude of ways. Accounts payable refers to the portion of the general ledger that documents the amounts owed to suppliers or vendors for goods or services that have not yet been paid for. Accounts receivable, meanwhile, is the part of the ledger that records amounts owed by customers for goods and services you have provided. Digitally transforming AP can start with switching to electronic invoices and using software with OCR technology to decipher important information like necessary information fields and expense categories. A simple invoice scan negates the need for hours of manual data entry, as well as the paper clutter that comes along with physical invoicing. Automating AP approval workflows is also crucial for finance teams, eliminating time-consuming back-and-forths in the office or over email. Once someone has approved an invoice or payment, it will automatically and digitally be sent to the next colleague in line. Finally, you can automate authorization and payments for recurring expenses and subscriptions. A virtual card like Mesh can be assigned and locked to particular vendors, ensuring that only the approved amount for a specific expense can be spent. This also makes it easy to notice and cancel any duplicate or increased charges. Receipts for payments can even be uploaded right from a mobile device and matched using the aforementioned OCR technology. Reconciliation The reconciliation process can be frustrating and time-consuming for finance departments, but automation can make things a lot easier. The most common reconciliation process, bank reconciliation, ensures that a company’s internal transaction data matches that of their bank records. This can be automated by switching to a virtual card system. Mesh cards provide transaction information in real-time and allow users to upload receipts digitally — even prompting employees to attach missing receipts. Once receipts are uploaded, they are matched automatically and transactions are synced directly to your ERP in one easy click. Expense Management Expense management is another task that your finance department can automate. From approval workflows to categorizing transactions to controlling how much money is spent where and by whom — many businesses are currently doing a lot more manual work than they need to. The Mesh platform allows budget owners to control employee spending with limits on the amount of money, approved vendors and expiry dates on all cards (both virtual and Plug & Pay™ physical cards). Plus, cards can be canceled within seconds should any suspicious activity be detected. To make the finance team’s work easier, each transaction is automatically categorized and can be synced with the company’s ERP. Furthermore, Mesh provides real-time insights allowing users to see how much money is being spent across the company, alerts users to any suspicious activity and even provides alternative suggestions for SaaS subscriptions that you might be overpaying for. Benefits of Finance Automation There are numerous benefits to automating the business processes of the finance department. Here are some of the top benefits of automation. Save Time Automation is a huge time saver because it removes manual effort. For example, a member of the finance team will no longer need to go through paper invoices, check each one for validity, enter the data into a spreadsheet and then transfer that information to an ERP. That frees up an employee who can now spend that saved time doing more important work like analysis and forecasting. Save Money By saving employees’ time, you’re already saving money spent on additional hours or overtime pay. But automation can also save you cash in other ways. Automating vendor payments to be paid on-time or early saves on interest and late fees, and some vendors may even offer a discount for early payments. Additionally, managing your subscriptions with an automated expense management platform like Mesh can alert you to unexpected fees and cheaper alternatives. Save Resources Automating implies going digital, so you can say goodbye to wasting printer ink and paper. Records are stored electronically, saving you office (or storage) space and making it easier to find specific reports, receipts and other paperwork. Reduce Errors Your finance team will still need to oversee and verify the books, but automating receipt matching and data entry saves them the headache of going through spreadsheets line-by-line — and eliminates the risk of human error when typing or writing out data. Scalability Finally, finance automation is a great tool for businesses looking to scale up. It allows companies to focus on growth, while allowing expense management software and ERP to do the heavy lifting. This means there isn’t undue stress placed on the finance department because of new hires and additional spending. Why Real-Time Insights Are Important Your company should know exactly how much is being spent at any given moment, and that’s where real-time insights come in. Being able to track purchases and analyze spending on-the-go is essential to building a strong business that can handle curveballs and making the most out of your cash runway. Find and Solve Problems Quickly Real-time insights allow you to find and solve problems much more quickly than if you wait on monthly or quarterly reports. You can even enable notifications to alert you to any out-of-policy spending, duplicate charges or suspicion of fraud the moment the transaction happens. With all of your financial information being updated as company money is spent, you get an up-to-date view of financial health at all times. React to Market Changes Real-time insights also allow you to react to market changes as soon as the warning signs arrive. Rather than waiting for quarterly reports to be analyzed for trends, you can see your real-time financial data and adjust spending accordingly immediately. With a platform like Mesh, for example, you can lower spending limits for virtual cards as soon as internal and external analysts begin hinting at inflation or recession. More Accurate Forecasting and Decision-Making Once you’re able to identify problems and react nimbly to macroeconomic trends, you will be in a better position to generate more accurate forecasting. This, in turn, allows you to make better decisions about your company’s finances. Being able to implement immediate changes in company spending allows your business to confidently weather any drastic shifts in the market by retaining complete control of your cash runway. How Mesh Provides Finance Automation and Real-Time Insights Automation and real-time reporting and insights are more important than ever, and Mesh can help your business adopt or improve upon the way your company uses them. By automating business operations like expense reports and reimbursements, SaaS management, and ERP integrations, Mesh Payments will save your finance team time, money and resources. Zencity, for example, used to rely on corporate cards and would get at least 10 budget requests every day. With Mesh, they’re now able to automate the approval process and assign virtual cards with strong controls — making the entire process seamless. Mesh can also help by providing insights into company spending — from a dashboard overview to a hyper-focused look at individual transactions. DoiT, meanwhile, made the switch from corporate cards and worksheet tracking to Mesh and have eliminated tons of manual work. They’ve also gained control over and visibility into all aspects of company spending. “Mesh has now enabled us to have greater control over spend, granular and real-time visibility into expenses, integration and easy sync with our ERP, customized analytic features and automated workflow for our AP — all of which significantly improved our business process and enhanced our ROI,” says DoiT’s Global CFO Giridhar Premsingh. To learn more about how Mesh can help your business automate operations and gain valuable insights into your corporate finances, book a demo with one of our team members. Get the latest blogs from Mesh by subscribing to our newsletter Manage Your Payments With Full Control & Visibility Get Started Sarah Murphy Sarah is a Content Manager for Mesh Payments. Before working in marketing, she completed her Master of Journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (f.k.a. Ryerson University) and worked as an arts journalist in Toronto. She was a content writer for tech companies in the retail and workforce management sectors before joining Mesh in 2022.