What Expense and AP Automation Really Means for Your Job

Think of all the ways automation helps you in your personal life. From Amazon recommending helpful items to add to your cart and saving you a trip to the store, to Alexa setting a reminder for you to take out the trash, automation helps us complete our to-do lists more efficiently.

Similarly, automating business finance processes can minimise time spent on repetitive manual tasks, freeing up time to focus on higher-value work.

But workers might wonder how automation could affect their jobs. Particularly when the shift to remote or hybrid work arrangements has prompted many businesses—86% in a 2021 survey by The Economist Group—to be more open to experimentation and quick shifts in strategy.

What does that involve? Well, 89% of executives surveyed by The Economist Group plan to make their businesses more resilient by implementing advanced technologies to reduce manual drag. That means automation.

While business intelligence and machine learning are already here, organisations still need their humans. Here’s why.

What’s the impact of automating your finance processes?

The World Economic Forum projects that by 2025, automation will disrupt 85 million jobs globally across 15 industries—while creating 97 million jobs. As automation takes on more information and data processing tasks, the demand for human skills—like creativity, flexibility, and analytical thinking—will grow.

Despite the fear of job loss, what typically happens after automation is that finance staff are freed up to do strategic, business-building work that brings more value to the company. For instance, an AP Manager who once spent hours manually reviewing and matching POs can now spend that time negotiating more favorable terms with vendors.

Reducing pain points for your finance staff is a good thing. Automating tedious, lower-value tasks can help you create a better workplace, potentially helping you retain your dedicated existing employees. And, in a competitive hiring atmosphere, it can help draw top job candidates to your forward-thinking, employee-friendly organisation.

Here are four other key ways automation can benefit a business and its people:

  • Ensure better compliance: As the world becomes more digitised, staying compliant becomes more complex. A 2021 analysis by Deloitte found 220 regulatory changes worldwide every day. Automation helps conquer those complexities, flagging issues to avoid fines or opportunities to claim tax breaks and refunds.
  • Promote greater accuracy: If your finance staff relies on manual process—like those used in most small and midsize businesses—they’re likely bogged down, fielding numerous emails and sifting through endless paperwork.
  • Realising value: But automating your process creates a single system to capture and route invoices digitally from approval to payment—in practically any format. Automation helps cut processing time, improve compliance and can result in a three-year ROI of 628% by IDC's Business Value Snapshot.

“With SAP Concur, our finance team can spend more time looking at where we spend money instead of chasing paper. It’s more than saving money, it’s making better use of that resource to add value to the company.” Joe Hall, Chief Financial Officer, Honda New Zealand - Read case study

  • Gain valuable business insights: When you depend on a fully or even partially manual process, you struggle with uncaptured, disorganised, outdated data and disparate cash management insights and decisions. Automating your processes lets you tap into near real-time data to leverage for early-payment discounts, make on-time payments, and control category spend.

“The data we get out of SAP Concur solutions, the visibility, has allowed us to review our procurement policies and our procurement opportunities. We have been able to do some supplier rationalisations and we have been able to go out and re-negotiate some of those contracts, get some better buying-power deals and broker those. We have been able to use SAP Concur data to do strategic evaluations and make some operating decisions directly out of spend information”.

Anna Devonish, Projects and Systems Manager for Finance, Opteon - Watch case study


What to look for in an automated solution

 Automating expense and AP processes can better support businesses as they navigate the complexities of the digital world. Leaders from all sizes of businesses are starting to see how automation can help prepare them for unexpected and gain better insights into what’s working well for their company—and what isn’t.

Choosing an automation solution for expense and AP processes doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.

Learn more about choosing an expense automation solution in this guide, or try the self-guided Concur Expense demo.

Learn more about choosing an AP automation solution in this guide, or try the self-guided Concur Invoice demo.