Automation sounds great in theory, but what are the practical implications? We take the issue of employee expenses and see what difference that makes to business operations.
“Probably 99 per cent of the companies that we talk to – if not more – has a way to reimburse employees. You need to buy things on behalf of the company, and you need to find a way to get reimbursed,” explains Concur director Murray Warner.
“What’s happening today is that for every single expense report that comes through from an employee, generally there’ll be a person who manually goes through every single receipt and verifies that what’s in the expense report is what’s on the receipt, and they check for a couple of things.
“One, that it’s in policy, that they’re allowed to do it, but they also check things like was GST paid on this or was there some entertainment that may impact some fringe benefit tax that the company will need to account for?”
This process, Murray says, is a cumbersome and expensive one for SMEs, given not just hiring of an accounts person – or team – to manage this process, but also the amount of time employees from across the business spend in compiling and filing their expenses, rather than focusing on their core job functions.
“There are systems in place that would allow that to be automated so that wouldn’t require a person to go through every single line item of every single expense report of every single employee for those taxes to be calculated,” he says.
According to Murray, this form of automation can take various forms, including optical character recognition software which can read receipts and automatically process expenses “as opposed to somebody having to key in data off a wadded up piece of paper”.
“There’s a lot of system smarts that are available in the market that would allow expenses to effectively write themselves, to pull data from a corporate card, to be able to look at data that’s gleaned off a receipt that someone’s taken a picture of to be all matched up together and automatically audit it as well. A lot of that piece can go away completely,” he says.
Check out more insights on how businesses can save money, automate processes and boost efficiencies on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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