Small Tools Bring Big Payoff as SMBs Clamp Down on Spending

Airbase, spend management, SMBs

Small tools. Big payoff.

Robin Sharma, senior manager of accounting at Airbase, told PYMNTS in a recent interview that smaller firms, leveraging advanced technologies, can modernize accounting functions that improve cash management and help companies execute on long-term strategies.

The accounting department, she said, is ripe for digital innovation, ditching paper in favor of streamlined data flows.

As Sharma told PYMNTS, with a glance back at more than a decade in various accounting functions: “I’ve spent countless hours manipulating data, gathering information, and putting that into accounting software to analyze it.”

“By using software to manage that data and see it all in one place,” she added, “this saves time.”

Automating accounting functions can cut down on manual tasks — from tracking down purchase orders to matching them against invoices to forecasting when payments will hit accounts. Cutting down on manual tasks means that accounting teams (and other financial execs) need not scramble at the end of the week, the month, and especially the quarter to close the books.

See also: Real-Time Insight on Costs Gives Corporates Better Line on Financial Health

Part of the scramble can be traced to spend management, she noted, with the ultimate goal of reigning in costs and making sure that employees remain compliant with various corporate policies.

Spend management platforms, she said (as offered from the likes of Airbase) offer real-time data that in turn translates into real-time visibility into cash in and cash out of company coffers.

Looking at the Big Picture 

As for that big picture: Now, perhaps more than ever in so many professionals’ careers, the focus on spend management needs to be laser-like.

Inflation is running at the highest levels seen in more than four decades. The costs of everything, from office supplies to paying suppliers, is surging in so much that keeping margins intact remains a struggle. As more companies allow their employees to work from home, centralized communications and centralized data flow remain critical.

That’s no easy task given the fact that companies (even smaller ones!) might have back-end systems cobbled together from as many as half a dozen platforms. A single platform, with a range of functions available and accessible from a single point of access, she said, can give a holistic view of a company’s operations.

Read more: More Control, Better Visibility Boost Biz Spend Management Outcomes

Within the 360-degree panorama, executives throughout the company — from the C-suite and beyond — can pinpoint the “pain points” that hold up payment approvals, purchasing decisions and ultimately wind up costing time and money (not to mention new go-to-market opportunities and supplier loyalties).

That holistic view is particularly useful when it comes to payments. Eliminating the paper check, she told PYMNTS, remains a key endeavor for any company navigating supply chains. Making the transition to digital options, including card payments, wire transfers and even supplier portals, levels the playing field between buyers and suppliers.

The positive ripple effects wind up boosting margins, as manual payments can cost a company as much as $9 per check, but going digital can reduce that to under $2.

There’s a priceless benefit for the financial and accounting professional looking to make sense of up-to-the minute payments-related information. That granularity of insight provides a welcome roadmap pointing the way to what comes next.

Centralized platforms, Sharma said, “Allow people to focus on projects [other than closing the books] and can help them work on the big picture items.”

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