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Are You Ready for a Financial Slowdown?

The time is now to drive efficiencies in your back-office operations

The signs are all there: supply chain disruptions, increasing interest rates, high levels of inflation and now we are starting to see layoffs in certain companies and industries. An economic slowdown, perhaps even a recession, is here and for those of us who have been doing this for a while we have seen this movie before and we know how it plays out. In good economic times, companies focus their resources on driving sales, customer acquisition, increasing their market share and new product development. People are hired, new systems deployed and it’s full speed ahead. But the flip side of that is when the economy slows and sales growth grinds to a trickle or even stops altogether. When this happens, as it appears to be the case at this point in time, companies focus changes and they start looking for areas where they can reduce costs and become more efficient. One area that has typically been at the forefront of these efforts in lean economic times are the back-office functions, as they are often viewed (wrongly in my opinion) as overhead. Financial and procurement back-office functions are usually among those groups who are asked to do more with less.

Well that was the bad news, now the goods news… in slow economic times back-office operations have the opportunity to get the attention of senior management and implement systems and processes that drive efficiencies and allow you to do more with less, and when times get better and the economy turns around, do more without having to add significant resources. The result of course is not only a more efficient and updated operation going forward but also a significant contribution to the company’s overall financial health.

While these opportunities present themselves for all of the various back-office functions and departments within an organization, we will focus here on two specific areas that deal with vendors and have a direct impact on a companies spend: finance/accounts payable (AP), and procurement (sourcing, purchasing). Both of these areas have processes that are generally very manual in nature, especially as it relates to onboarding, and processing transactions to/from vendors. The good news is that there are best-of-breed solutions that can help you address those areas of the procure-to-pay cycle (PtoP) that are NOT particularly automated or efficient and can also help fill any functional gaps that exist with your ERP or other systems. These solution modules can be deployed individually and can also scale to deliver a full function PtoP system in a phased, modular approach. An example of these back-offce cloud hosted solutions includes:

  • Vendor Portal / Supplier Portal
    • Invoice Submit
    • PO Flip
    • Payment Inquiry
    • Payment Dispute Submission/Tracking
    • Deductions
  • Vendor Onboarding / Supplier Onboarding
    • Company Information
    • Compliance
    • Diversity
    • Tax (TIN check)
    • Insurance Submission & Renewal Notification
    • Internal Approval Workflows
    • Real-time Collaboration with Vendor
  • PO Dispatch & Update
    • Automated PO Dispatch
    • Request Vendor Updates
    • Dispatch PO Updates & Communications
  • AP Automation
    • Remote Approvals
    • PO Matching
    • Workflow Management
    • Data Capture
    • Dynamic Discounting

As times get more economically challenging your organization can be prepared to operate more efficiently and do more with less by addressing financial and vendor related back-office processes. These portal based business solutions give managers more visibility into spend and critical vendor activities and give them more flexibly in managing cash flow.

The tools mentioned above are important pieces that can not only help you to operate more efficiently, but enable a high degree of vendor self-service where many manual, non-value add tasks can be performed by the vendor. These Additionally, these solutions also help promote a stronger vendor community by allowing them 24×7 access anywhere in the world to data they need in their operations. Contact ICG today for more information or request a demo of any of our suite of back-office automation solutions. You can also watch a short video on all of ICG’s back-office solutions.