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According to a study by BlueSnap, most organisations still rely on traditional AR (Accounts Receivable) processes. It’s not surprising, therefore, that over 80% of B2B executives say that late payments threaten the future of their company.

Organisations that don’t receive payments on time suffer from stunted cash flow, loss of valuable time better spent on other tasks, and hindered business growth.

However, there is a solution.

By switching over to automated accounts receivable software, you can simplify your AR process and receive payments by the deadline. In turn, you’ll be able to improve your business finances, maintain your competitive edge in the market and take on more projects in the future.

Sharing BlueSnap’s latest findings on B2B payments, this article will explain how automated accounts receivable software works, how it can help small businesses and why B2B payment automation is a must-have for dynamic finance functions.

How Does Automated Accounts Receivable Software Work?

Automation is changing the way we get paid. In the B2C world, many traditional payment methods, such as cheques, are being replaced with innovative, electronic alternatives.

Now it’s time for B2B payments to catch up.

Businesses that adopt new payment technology can get ahead of the curve by making the most of solutions including:

Submitting invoices via email automation
Automating bill payments
Generating online customer bill payments

But how does automated accounts receivable software actually work?

Accounts receivable automation, or AR automation, transforms clunky, manual payments by processing them electronically. In a nutshell, the system creates invoices based on your company’s data, delivers them automatically to the client, sends payment reminders and resolves payments with accounting systems and bank accounts.

Removing the repetitive, time-consuming and potentially error-prone tasks involved in manually processing an invoice ensures that your business gets paid on time. Less time spent chasing down late payments results in an improved cash flow, happier customers and suppliers, and boosts team morale.

Using Payment Technology to Overcome Top AR Challenges

It’s no secret that the current B2B AR processes employed by many organisations are hurting business. In fact, 93% of companies say they’ve experienced negative consequences due to outdated processing methods.

Using automated accounts receivable software, you can overcome the challenges presented by manual processes and legacy systems. Here are just some of the ways your business could benefit from digitising your AR process:

1. Improved cash flow

Overdue invoices can occur for numerous reasons. Perhaps there was an error on the invoice and the customer is disputing it, the paperwork has become lost or forgotten about, or maybe your company is inadvertently stalling the process by waiting to send invoices out in batches.

Either way, late payments cause significant financial pressure for businesses, with 35% of organisations revealing that they’re unable to grow due to cash flow problems.

Worse still, poor cash flow can do a lot more damage than just stunting short-term business growth. If your customers aren’t paying you on time, the following may suffer:

New Projects:

On average, 30% of an organisation’s monthly revenue is tied up in AR at any given time, straining finances.

Without the funds to invest in new equipment or take on other projects, businesses lose out on opportunities to create new value. Additionally, staff are forced to waste precious time on chasing down late payments, taking focus away from other crucial priorities that keep companies healthy.

Your Credit Rating:

Reportedly, over a quarter (27%) of customers exceed their payment terms, which often leaves businesses in a state of financial limbo.

When you don’t have enough cash flow to cover operational costs, you may have to take out a loan or use a credit card. However, if you’re unable to pay your debts back on time, your credit score could take a hit, making it trickier and more expensive to obtain loans in the future.

Supplier Relationships:

Two fifths (40%) of businesses say they pay their suppliers and partners late. If your customers aren’t paying by the deadline, you’re going to struggle to pay your suppliers. In the worst case, suppliers may refuse to work with you in future due to a poor payment record.

Automated accounts receivable software can significantly lower the risk of late payments. Digitising invoices and storing them in an easy-to-use platform removes the potential for human error and prevents documents from getting forgotten about or lost. Plus, payment technology reduces the amount of time spent on arduous, manual paperwork on both ends. It’s never been easier to receive a payment on schedule.

2. Better Customer Relationships

In a world where innovative B2C payments are the norm, why should B2B payments be any different? Many customers have come to expect a simple, seamless payment experience. Instead, customers are confronted with antiquated and frustrating AR processes.

Consequently, 30% of businesses say they have lost customers and contracts because of their unsatisfactory AR processes.

Businesses must begin adapting to the more common payment methods customers use to fulfil invoices from B2B organisations such as:

Credit cards (21%)
Automated clearing houses (ACH) or local bank transfers (12%)
Wire transfers (13%)

Implementing state-of-the-art payment technology improves the overall customer experience and maintains your relationships on a long-term basis. Positive, consistently satisfied customers may be encouraged to reinvest in your business.

3. Improved Morale Within the AR and HR Teams

Traditional payment processes take a significant toll on AR teams and human resources, who currently have to spend around 11 hours managing a single invoice across an average range of five different systems.

Unsurprisingly, the root cause of the issue stems from the fact that 38% of businesses still require manual input at some point of the payment lifecycle. In some cases, the AR team must manage the entire process manually, from creating and sharing invoices to customer communication and payment.

As a result, 29% of businesses report that they have difficulty keeping their most talented employees.

Long and frustrating payment processes steal time away from work that motivates employees. When the team has to spend their days posting out invoices or taking lengthy calls that online portals could easily replace, staff turnover increases and ignites a vicious cycle of costly recruitment, job dissatisfaction and resignation.

Furthermore, the unanticipated pandemic’s impact on staff members’ ability to process cheques throughout office closures served as a wake-up call for companies with an ongoing reliance on manual invoicing. If anything, the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the benefits of technology in maintaining business-as-usual, regardless of the situation.

Accounts receivable automation not only frees up your employees’ time, boosting productivity and motivation, but it also mitigates any risks associated with traditional, paper-based payment methods.

4. More Visibility Over Budget

As it stands, around 37% of organisations are unable to forecast cash flow accurately because of the uncertainty that manual AR processes cause. Subsequently, many business leaders are left in the dark about their company finances.

Modern payment technology gives you far better visibility over operational spending and other key metrics. By handling your AR processes through software, you’ll always have access to the latest and most accurate data whenever you need it.

Real-time reports lead to greater transparency and better decision-making because you won’t have to rely on uncertain cash flow forecasts. Instead, you can quickly visualise exactly how and where your business is spending money, calculate how much you’re owed and analyse customers’ behavioural trends including repeated late payments.

5. Increased Profits

According to research, the average cost of processing a single invoice in the UK is between £4-25, and the cost increases further with human error. The current lifecycle of an invoice involves around 15 people to process. It’s clear to see how staff can inadvertently raise the cost of processing an invoice.

However, there are other auxiliary expenses that soon add up over a more extended period. For example:

Office Supplies and Postage:

You need to consider the cost of pens, paper, printer ink, envelopes and postage charges when mailing out a physical invoice.

Storage:

If your invoices for accounts receivable and accounts payable are physical, you need to store them securely for auditing purposes. The cost of manually filing and storing these paper documents contributes to the overall expense.

Late Fees:

Companies that employ an entirely manual AR process may find that late invoice payments delay them from being able to pay suppliers. As such, you could be paying late fees that are completely avoidable.

Here’s a simple calculation to determine how much your AR process is costing you:

Staff costs + office supplies + postage + storage + late fees / number of invoices = cost per invoice

Companies that want to survive and thrive again in a post-pandemic world can’t afford to be flippant with their finances. By breaking free from the obsolescence of manual AR processes, you can potentially save thousands of pounds each year.

How You Can Leverage Accounts Receivable Automation to Progress Payments

In order to unlock future business growth and stay ahead of the competition, organisations must be willing to modernise their AR processes.

Here are three ways you can begin your journey today:

1. Acknowledge What Isn’t Working

Companies need to be honest with themselves and recognise when processes are causing issues. For example, 98% of organisations struggled to process payments during the pandemic as a direct result of using paper cheques in their AR process.

Unfortunately, if you ignore the need to modernise, your business’ cash flow could be at risk, directly causing negative knock-on effects further down the line.

2. Embrace Automation

Companies that are willing to invest in the payment technology they need to overhaul their legacy systems and manual AR methods will flourish. Implementing automated accounts receivable software is cost-effective and easy.

In truth, more businesses than ever before are choosing to rejuvenate their AR processes. In fact, 99.7% of surveyed senior decision-makers are optimistic and open to AR automation because they believe that digital transformation will benefit their organisation.

3. Research the Right Solution for You

The most significant barrier to adoption is education. 40% of B2B companies claim that a lack of understanding of what solutions are available prevents them from investing more in AR automation and payment technology.

The good news is that there are lots of readily available tools and technologies on the market. But choosing the right B2B payment solution for your organisation is critical. To be successful, you must establish your pain points and select a system that will help you overcome them and achieve your business goals simultaneously.

Discover More About How B2B Payment Automation is Revolutionising Business

B2B payment automation software accelerates the payment process and alleviates the strain on your company, leaving you free to focus on the more crucial aspects of running a business.

Discover the ways your organisation can prosper and grow by automating your AR process.

To find out more, download the ‘Progressing Payments Report’ here.

Invoicing is an essential part of running any organisation, but the payment process is often riddled with obstacles and extremely inefficient. From late payments that obliterate your cash flow to arduous, manual processes that leave your Accounts Receivable (AR) team feeling frustrated, outdated payment processes can negatively impact business performance.

However, there is a way to streamline the payment cycle, saving you time and money that could be better spent elsewhere in the company.

With automated invoicing and payment software, everything is digitised and stored on one easy-to-use platform, which ultimately speeds up the whole process and ensures you get paid quicker.

We’ve summarised the most significant benefits that automated invoice processing provides and how it optimises payment lifecycles, enabling you to focus on business priorities instead.

1. Going Paperless

Going paperless isn’t just environmentally friendly, it makes good business sense.

Paperless processing permanently avoids the risk of invoices becoming forgotten about or lost. Instead, you, your employees and your customers can access cloud-based documents any time, anywhere.

Additionally, going paperless enables you to complete approvals directly on the platform. Invoices won’t have to sit, piled on someone’s desk for weeks on end and records of the process are catalogued to save time spent searching through old files.

Removing your reliance on paper, also saves money on storage and logistics costs. Companies with hard copies of invoices need to keep them somewhere for auditing purposes, but eventually, they begin to run out of space and need to pay to store them in an off-site location.

Furthermore, data regulations such as GDPR prevent organisations from keeping records after a certain amount of time. As a result, businesses with boxes of paper records in storage will need to pay employees for the manual labour of sorting through and discarding old records.

By contrast, automated invoice processing eliminates the dependence on paper, freeing up time, money, and office space.

2. Eliminating Repetitive Tasks

For each physical invoice that needs to be processed, someone must input the information manually, print it out, put it in an envelope and mail it off to the customer before filing a copy somewhere in the office.

Repetitive tasks are a morale killer for accounts receivable teams, who currently spend an average of 11 hours manually processing each invoice. When your employees are unhappy, they’re more likely to jump ship, leaving you to spend time and money hiring replacements.

Invoicing and payment software is designed to oust the monotony of payment processing by keeping everything in one place and automating administrative tasks. By alleviating your accounts receivable team of burdensome processes, you can expect to see a significant boost in productivity and motivation.

3. Less Human Error

Imagine this: your accounts receivable team posts an invoice to a customer, who receives it several days later. The customer checks the invoice but notices a mistake – the total doesn’t match up with the original quote.

Not wanting to pay the incorrect amount, the customer calls your accounts receivable department and disputes the invoice. After some time spent going back and forth over the phone, the AR team realises it was an innocent mistake and then has to correct, print, seal and send off the new invoice, which the customer will receive in a few days.

Seems pretty inefficient.

Invoicing and payment software leaves much less room for human error because it automatically generates invoices using existing company data. Fewer slip-ups mean your team can spend less time processing a single invoice and focus on more pressing tasks that will help to grow your business.

Plus, you won’t have to rely on snail mail to send invoices. The software will automatically send invoices to the customer, where they can electronically sign them and issue a payment immediately.

4. Fewer Employee Hours

Your business is bound to go through peaks and troughs of activity. Therefore, it can be tempting to take on temporary staff when your AR team reaches peak capacity to lighten the load.
But recruitment is very costly and time-consuming, especially when you’re hiring non-permanent staff.

Forward-thinking companies invest in invoicing and payment software, which scales as your business does. With automated processes in place, your team will be able to handle invoices much faster, giving them more time to focus on strategic activities instead.

5. No More Chasing

With a lowered risk of human error, immediate invoice generation and a digital record of all documents, wasting time chasing overdue payments can become a thing of the past.

Automated invoice processing organises what was once a slow but chaotic workflow and streamlines it to ensure you get paid by the deadline.

Rather than spending hours on the phone chasing down your customers, business leaders are investing in invoicing and payment software to empower their AR teams. Companies can continue focusing on business priorities whilst their invoices follow a quick, simple online workflow between your organisation and the customer.

Use Automated Invoice Processing to Streamline Your Payment Cycle with BigChange

Create financial documents quickly based on pre-saved line items or automatically calculated job costs. Generate and share invoices, quotes, estimates, purchase orders and credit notes in seconds with BigChange.

Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.

Historically, late B2B payments have presented a massive challenge for organisations that rely on manual AR (Accounts Receivable) processes and legacy systems. They’re both antiquated, unnecessarily difficult and take up valuable time, annihilating cash flow.

But businesses can avoid the problem of frequent late payments altogether. In fact, with the right technology, companies can simplify payment processes and add value to their business at the same time.

In this article, we’ll explore how late payments affect your company, how to fix the issue of customers not paying on time and how automating your AR processes can enable your business to thrive.

How Late Payments Affect Your Business

Since the beginning of the pandemic, late payments in the UK have skyrocketed, with an increase in unpaid invoices of 23% impacting businesses nationwide.

We’ve listed the main ways that late payments could be affecting your company below:

  • You may be unable to take on new projects

If your customer doesn’t pay on time, cash flow becomes limited and hinders business growth. As a result, you may find that you don’t have the funds to take on new jobs or invest in equipment for other, larger projects.

Chasing payments to improve your cash flow wastes your time and takes your focus away from the most crucial aspects of running a business. In the worst case, constantly hunting down unpaid invoices could cause you to lose your competitive edge.

  • You could struggle to meet operational expenses

A limited cash flow does more damage than just limiting future projects. 

If you’re dealing with frequent late payments, you may also find that your current operating expenses are getting out of hand. When operational expenses become an issue, it inhibits your ability to run a business effectively and you may even need to take out loans to cover the costs.

  • Your credit rating might take a hit

According to research, around 38% of small businesses that have suffered cash flow problems have been left unable to pay debts. If you’ve had to take out a loan or used a credit card to cover running costs and don’t have the funds to pay it back on time, your credit rating will suffer. 

Credit bureaus take late payments into account when evaluating your credit score, so your rating will drop if you can’t pay by the deadline. With a lower credit score, it will be trickier and costlier to secure loans in the future.

  • Supplier relationships could suffer

Late payments create a chain reaction. If your customer doesn’t pay you on time, you then won’t be able to pay your suppliers on time. Consequently, your supplier relationships may suffer as they then have to spend time chasing your business for payments.

Suppliers are more reluctant to work with companies that take a long time to pay invoices and, if late payments become a regular issue, they may cut ties with you altogether.

How to Fix the Issue of Late Payments

The silver lining is that there are ways to fix the issue of late payments. By making your AR processes quicker and more straightforward, your business will be able to prosper and grow.

Here are some ways you can begin improving the payment process:

  • Build Good Relationships with Your Customers

It pays to have a strong relationship with your clients. Take the time to build rapport and a positive customer experience and they’ll be more likely to pay their invoices by the deadline.

Although it can be frustrating to chase overdue invoices, try not to let it sour the relationship. A polite approach will help to keep your customer on-side and will yield better results in the long run.

  • Invoice Correctly and Quickly

Be mindful of inefficient payment processes that can slow down approvals and lead to overdue invoices. Organisation and attention to detail are key to ensuring that your customers pay on time.

The sooner you generate your invoice and send it over to the customer, the sooner you’ll receive payment. Companies that wait to send invoices out in batches could be inadvertently stalling the payment process by several weeks.

Human error also plays a significant role in creating long payment cycles. For example, customers may dispute incorrect invoices that don’t match up with quotes or include the wrong purchase order, which then requires additional time to resolve the issue.

  • Automate Your AR Processes

You need your customers to pay on time so you can keep your business running, maintain supplier relationships and grow the company. Still, sluggish payments remain a frustrating reality for most organisations. That’s where AR automation comes in.

With a complete job management platform such as BigChange, you can automatically raise invoices directly in the system. By digitising your important documentation and keeping it on one platform, businesses can remove the risk of human error, reduce the amount of time spent on arduous, manual paperwork, and prevent documents getting forgotten about or lost.

Instead, customers can sign digitally to confirm that the job is complete and instantly make an online payment.

It really is that simple.

Learn How BigChange Enables Customers to Pay On Time

Create financial documents instantly based on pre-saved line items or automatically calculated job costs, which can be sent automatically to customers on job completion. Generate and share invoices, quotes, estimates, purchase orders and credit notes in seconds with BigChange.

Plus, with the BigChange Pay feature, you can now also take instant payments.

Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.

Companies that don’t only want to survive, but thrive, in a post-pandemic world will need to innovate and think of ways to stay ahead of their competition. 

If COVID taught us anything, it’s that technology has the power to change the way we work and eliminate a range of roadblocks that have the potential to stand in the way of business. One piece of technology that can revolutionise the way you run your organisation is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform with payment gateway integration.

A CRM streamlines the sales cycle, end-to-end, and speeds up the entire process. Consequently, you can get paid on time, take on more projects and scale your company. 

In this article, we’ll explore the five main perks of using a CRM with integrated payment solutions.

1. Streamline the Payment Process

Time is money, which means that all those hours your Accounts Receivable (AR) team is spending manually processing payments is costing you dearly.

In fact, for the average small-to-mid-sized company, it takes approximately 25 days to process a single invoice manually from receipt to payment. As a result, businesses have to contend with overdue invoices, high processing costs and employees spending their time on long-winded tasks.

CRMs with payment gateway integration speed up the payments process. No more searching through stacks of paper to find the information you need, no more reliance on snail mail to send your customers an invoice and waiting days for their accounting team to handle it, and no more risk of human error that can delay the process further.

Integrated payment solutions allow you to automatically send your customer a payment request via the CRM — where all your other documents are stored — and receive the funds instantly. 

Not only will your AR team thank you for freeing up their time to focus on more crucial tasks, but your cash flow will likely remain more consistent.

2. A More Secure Way to Pay

The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that businesses lose around £190 billion to fraud each year in the UK. Being a victim of a scam can cause severe financial and reputational damage to your business, so you must have preventative measures in place.

A good CRM provides an additional layer of security that you wouldn’t get when you process payments traditionally using legacy systems and paper invoices. All payment data is encrypted and transferred securely, significantly reducing the risk of fraud. 

In addition to the added security, a CRM with payment gateway integration can seriously speed up the payments process. 

Rather than taking credit card numbers over the phone or waiting for a cheque in the post before passing them over to your accounting department, you can request a payment from your customer directly through the CRM and receive the funds instantly.

3. Convenience for Your Customers

In today’s digital world, where convenience and speed are king, failure to meet the standard your customers have come to expect is a surefire way to lose business.

Although B2C payments have continued to innovate and provide modern, user-friendly ways to pay, B2B payments have historically fallen behind. However, B2B organisations are quickly realising due to the COVID crisis that their payments desperately need consumerization.

Say you have a customer who is waiting for your invoice to arrive in the mail before they can send you a cheque, but that same customer was just able to complete a near-instant, cloud-based payment for another company. It’s not hard to guess who they would prefer to work with again in the future.

CRMs that have integrated payment solutions vastly improve the customer experience and help maintain your relationship long-term. You can expect far more repeat customers if your processes are painless and consider their needs.

4. Keep Everything in One Place

One of the main benefits of having payment gateway integration in your CRM is that you essentially have a single, central customer database where all the information is correct.

Keeping customer details updated across multiple platforms is slow, destroys team morale, creates duplicates work and increases costs. However, a CRM with payment gateway integration enables your AR team to quickly generate an invoice based on correct, pre-populated information about the customer and accept payments all in the same place.

As a result, you can expect far less human error and mismatched data. With all the time saved, you and your team can focus on more valuable work. 

5. See the Bigger Picture

Integrating your payment processing tools with your CRM will be instrumental in helping you understand your business better, not only financially, but also from a marketing perspective.

Usually, when you acquire a new lead, you mark the source in the CRM. However, if your CRM and payments platform aren’t integrated, it becomes trickier to see the true ROI on each of your marketing channels.

Suppose you want to learn which channels provide you with the most repeat customers, which channels generate the most ROI and which channels attract the most new clients. In that case, it’s essential to employ a CRM with integrated payment solutions, which lets you see financial and client data in the same place.

Learn More about Integrated Payment Solutions with BigChange

Using a complete job management platform like BigChange enables you to stay ahead of the curve.

Create financial documents quickly based on pre-saved line items or automatically calculated job costs. Generate and share invoices, quotes, estimates, purchase orders and credit notes in seconds.

Want to find out more?
Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.

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