Broken workflows are the slow-acting poison that kills process, people, and eventually the entire business. Symptoms like productivity loss, communication barriers, and missed deadlines all demonstrate the inefficiency of workflows. Mostly organizations dismiss these signs as a side effect of manual processing, or paper-driven processes.
Although broken workflows are undesirable in all departments, their impact is severe in finance. Even a small delay or error can directly burn a hole on your revenue reserves. Approval bottlenecks and request black holes can be the difference between a smooth operation and cash shortage.
Long, drawn-out processes frustrate suppliers, irritate customers, and make the finance team resent the whole process cycle. You can’t fix all broken workflows overnight, but tackling the most commonly used workflows one at a time can prevent major finance disasters. Here are five broken finance workflows you can level up with workflow management solutions.
Broken Workflow 1: Budget Approval
Budget approval is one of the most important finance workflows. Budgets are the guardrails of spending in an organization; if they are treated as irrelevant red tape, they serve no purpose. Each department has a budget they must adhere to in order to keep things running smoothly. Department heads need to cross-check the available budget before taking action on a purchase request. When this is done manually, the department head has to sift through multiple spreadsheets to double-check budget availability.
In case a budget wasn’t updated after a purchase, or someone makes a wrong entry on the spreadsheet, it will result in chaos. You have to comb through a dozen email threads to rectify the problem. With an appropriate workflow automation tool, you can spend more time approving or rejecting requests rather than wondering whether the spreadsheet data is accurate.
Broken Workflow #2: Asset Purchases
Be it a new laptop or a comfy bean bag, every last asset purchase needs to follow the approval loop. If you handle your asset purchase approvals with just emails and paperwork, there’s bound to be a lot of delay due to so many back-and-forth conversations, and miscommunication. What’s worse? Your requests could get lost in a flooded inbox or paperwork could go missing. When your workflows are manual, enforcing company policies or ensuring on-time purchase is practically impossible.
If the purchase gets dragged on as you cross-check all necessary details, it might stir up dissatisfaction among staff members. Revamping the asset purchase workflow is the only way to appease agitated employees here. Workflow management solutions will collect all relevant information from the requester during initiation, keep the communication straightforward, and speed up the process considerably.
Broken Workflow #3: Travel Reimbursement
Submitting reimbursement requests is often an incredibly mind-numbing task. Employees hate filling out long expense sheets, and managers hate verifying the authenticity of claims. Most of the time, the request sheets are either incomplete, incorrect, or illegible. Only 38% of organizations have a fully automated travel and expense workflow. Manual travel reimbursement practices lead to inefficient processing, poor visibility, and little to no internal control.
Manually checking claims, going through receipts, cross-verifying company policy, and ensuring that an expense item is reimbursable is both time-consuming and tedious. An automated workflow will save everybody time, enforce organizational policies automatically, store all relevant documents in a single interface, reduce back-and-forth communication, and make auditing/approval easy.
Broken Workflow #4: Mileage Reimbursement
Navigating the twists and turns of mileage reimbursement can drive any employer crazy, unless they have a proper reimbursement process and policy in place. Even then, the approval has to go through so many checkpoints, since you probably don’t want to pay your employees to jet around for fun! Just as it is with travel reimbursement, the mileage reimbursement workflow is chaotic and convoluted. Streamlining the workflow with automation can ensure compliance, validate claims, simplify decision making, and make the approval process a breeze.
Broken Workflow #5: Vendor Payment/Invoice Approval
Invoice approval is a scary labyrinth filled with inefficiency monsters and process pitfalls. An invoice has to pass through multiple approval tunnels and face several checkpoints before it can be approved. How could any organization pay an invoice promptly when their process is filled with time-intensive data entry, unnoticed errors, and long approval cycles? Manual invoice processing makes organizations miss early payment discounts, causes a rift in the vendor-buyer relationship, and offers little to no process visibility to management.
With a workflow management system, you can reduce operating costs by 45%-65%. Workflow management tools streamline invoice approval, induce transparency in the approval process, and track invoices right from submission to approval and payment.
Although these broken workflows are embedded deep within your processes, technological solutions can patch them up. Failing to fix these inefficient workflows cause operational cost spikes, damage vendor relationships, cause employee dissatisfaction, and more. To prevent such consequences, the finance department needs to throw manual processes out the window, and start using workflow automation tools to create the solutions they need. Workflow automation doesn’t have to be an expensive, long, drawn-out process. There are an array of cloud and mobile-friendly solutions that eliminate process bottlenecks swiftly in a cost-effective way.
While it may be surprising, the hardest part of re-evaluating your workflows is actually getting them started. Now that you know the amount of impact your inefficient workflows have on your business, are you ready to take back control of your workflows and processes?