Written by in Business on June 10, 2021
It’s no secret that the world is turning increasingly digital. In turn, the general population is getting comfortable with the paperless world in many different facets of their lives. From the way we handle our money to the way we communicate, the digital age is replacing past methods rapidly. In some cases, the transition has been so smooth that it’s been almost imperceptible. Though, as individuals shift seamlessly to the digital world, some key business foundations have remained in the past, drawing upon manual procedures and paper-centric systems to get the job done.
While the B2C space has modernized a great deal, the B2B side of things has seen a much slower burn.
When it comes to B2B payments, we are still seeing a ton of inefficiencies, minimal automation, frequent errors, and unnecessary costs. It makes sense that B2B payments and billing would lag behind that of B2C. These types of transactions are often far larger than those between a business and a consumer. Furthermore, they are commonly reoccurring and require the approval of multiple parties on both ends of the transaction.
Unfortunately, resisting digitization comes at a cost. It can limit a business’ access to the global marketplace, increase the risk of loss, and increase the potential for human error, among other things. The reasons for resistance may be clear, but they are certainly outweighed by the reasons for digitization. Here are some of the processes and procedures that could benefit from a push towards the digital world.
Maintaining the status quo would mean pushing ahead with a paper-first mentality. When it comes to B2B payments and billing, there are several steps in the process that are still done manually and in a paper format.
Some examples include literal payments, meaning cheques. A significant percentage of businesses are still looking to their cheque books to make payments. Beyond payments themselves, things like invoicing, leger systems and bookkeeping, document management, and accounting are still being done manually and not with the help of software, digital platforms, or applications. There are still so many manual processes being carried out in relation to payment management.
It’s easy to take an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude in the face of a potential change to internal processes and procedures. Unfortunately, this can’t be the case for long. The world is digitizing before our eyes and things like human errors and unexpected costs simply can’t join us in the future of business relationships.
In order to understand the push towards digitization, it’s important to first understand the benefits. First and foremost, it is all about simplification and efficiency. Software is emerging by the minute to solve specific problems in relation to B2B payments and relationships. While the “way you’ve always done it” may seem like an attractive option, it simply can’t compete with tech-forward solutions that were invented to streamline specific processes. Along with speed and simplification comes error reduction. Human error is an age-old issue and it cannot be solved by even the most iron-clad procedures.
Next, digital solutions are often developed with risk management at the forefront. In terms of global payments, for example, your exposure to foreign exchange risk can be mitigated through a global payments platform. In addition, fin tech software often offer multi-factor authentication to ensure your business, your information, and your money are all protected.
Opting to go digital also offers increased transparency on both ends of the transaction. From billing to procurement, businesses can make the documentation, procedures, and financials more transparent to reduce the chance of misunderstanding or crossed-wires on all sides of a deal.
Many platforms and solutions offer richer data and insights than you would receive from more manual methods. This way, you can look back at your analytics to build a greater understanding of your B2B relationships.
Finally, with tech-based solutions comes increased automation. With increased automation comes less employee time expenditure, freeing them up for more high-level tasks.
It’s clear that our future is digital, and the future of B2B relationships will be no different. There is no sense in resisting the inevitable, especially when such incredible solutions exist all around us right now.
If we look to the future, we see the retirement of the cheque book, the manual invoice, and paper-centric accounting procedures. Tech-forward billing and payments procedures are the name of the game, and the only thing you need to do is build up the perfect roster of solutions for you.
Of course, it requires looking within. You must take a critical eye to your solutions and gain an understanding of what you are doing manually that could easily be automated. Further, it’s important to reassess your cost and benefit analysis. While most software comes at a cost, that cost is often less than the labour cost you are currently taking on. Ask yourself this: what are we doing that could be more efficient, less time-consuming, and less costly? Chances are that you will uncover some legacy procedures that could benefit from re-visiting.
Once you’ve completed an assessment of your billing and payments operations, you can easily identify your areas of improvement. Next, just as you would assemble a team of professionals, you need to assemble a team of digital solutions. For example, you may conclude that you need an accounting software that offers invoicing and bookkeeping, a payments platform that operates on a global scale, and a document management system.
Once you have an idea of what you need, all that’s left to do is do your research, compile quotes, and seek out custom solutions if need-be. Next, it’s time to pull the trigger and partner with best-in-class service providers to meet your needs, lower your costs, and increase your business’ efficiency. All of this will increase your attractiveness to potential clients and business partners alike.
To find out how Shift’s custom solutions can serve and elevate your business, get in touch today.