By Simon Shorthose, Managing Director, ReadSoft
For many new or smaller organisations, cloud computing relates to data storage or email, but it can revolutionise a business, enabling organisations to compete more effectively with businesses ten times larger.
This is particularly true of back office functionality, particularly in finance processes. Widespread cloud adoption is being driven by the increasing variety of services available, reductions in the cost of upfront capital investment and improvements in internet security. The cloud is no longer merely seen as a data storage option. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has extended cloud functionality to business applications. As the platform has matured, cloud computing has embraced every different type of office process – from human resources to finance.
Automating the finance function
Using cloud based SaaS solutions to automate the back office Accounts Payable (AP) function enables a fast adoption of a complete solution for invoice capture and processing with minimal IT investment. Historically, additional hardware and software would have been required from the outset, but with SaaS businesses can experience the same results without the initial investment. Growth through technology in this way is particularly relevant for SMEs that must find innovative ways to compete in the marketplace with larger businesses.
The most effective solutions will extract data from invoices automatically. By automating the extraction of this information, businesses can automatically match invoices to purchase orders and delivery notes. With all relevant documentation available, if the information matches, the software can process invoices for payment and securely store the information together in the cloud. Automation in this way can help to support the company’s effective management of reporting by delivering better levels of control.
In addition to processing invoices, managing payments, planning cash flow and maintaining supply chain fluidity, businesses need to keep an effective documentation trail for audit. Using a cloud service enables smaller businesses to streamline the finance function and reduce the resources needed to ensure compliance. Invoice scanning services enable businesses of any size to scan each invoice on arrival, immediately ensuring there is a secure and backed up copy in the cloud.
Cloud services are designed to be secure and for smaller businesses, security may actually be enhanced by moving to a cloud-based system. Few small businesses can afford the same high levels of security and data protection that SaaS solutions offer. Utilising SaaS to automate the AP function is a fast route to better transparency, control and security.
Designed for growth
Importantly for smaller businesses, cloud solutions are completely scalable and can move upwards as the company grows.
Cloud-based invoice systems mean that small businesses can take advantage of services that were previously only available to large companies. The reduction in management time spent on administration is most effective of all, as it frees up valuable time to grow the business and compete with larger organisations.
Information backed up on the cloud can be accessed anywhere and on a range of connected devices. Data is automatically backed up and the need for maintenance and updating of software is eliminated. In addition to the convenience and cost benefit, for SMEs managing IT in the early stages of a business, using cloud services will enable business growth while avoiding common IT issues like legacy software compatibility.
Employing cloud technology to automate the AP function is also an effective way of using a business’ existing workforce more effectively. Establishing a strong process automation service increases business efficiency though more effective use of technology. Fewer staff will be needed to go through the laborious task of keying in data manually, eliminating manual errors and lending more time to business development.
Simon Shorthose joined ReadSoft UK as Managing Director in 2009. Shorthose has a leadership background in sales and marketing business management with strong direct and channel sales experience in the IT industry.