Connect with us

Politics

Financial Automation Should Become a Top Focus for Remote Companies – ReadWrite

Published

on

Deanna Ritchie


Financial automation is not a top focus right now with remote companies. Your accounts payable people are almost certainly struggling.

Isolation from other employees in the organization often occurs with the Accounts Payable department. On top of that, while businesses put AP teams in charge of paying invoices and managing expenditures, the AP teams often struggle with various complexities associated with that process.

One contributing factor to making life difficult for your AP people is that, all too often, every business unit has its own system of expense approvals. That being the case, the purpose of the invoice, the expenditure approval, and vendor payment clearance, were all unclear to the AP departments.

Work-from-Home (WFH) Adds Another Layer of Complexity

Existing difficulties associated with the smooth functioning of your AP department became even more pronounced during the pandemic of 2020. The sudden, unforeseen wave of “going remote” led to less communication between business units and AP. It became even more apparent that other business units do not see their relationship with AP as mission-critical.

Fortunately, there is a solution to be found in AP automation services such as Stampli. However, the key for business owners is that any AP financial automation system must do more than simply automate the payment of digitally approved invoices.

“That’s the easiest part of the process,” according to Stampli CEO Eyal Feldman. Feldman responded to a question about the challenges companies face when trying to get their approved vendors paid on time. “Most AP tools focus on the payment component of the Procure to Pay (P2P) Process, but issuing a payment is the final step,” he said. “Ninety-percent of the challenges associated with getting vendors paid on time happens during the process preceding the payment, which includes verifying and getting the proper approvals to pay the invoice.”

Instead, financial automation should focus on providing a solution for the collaborative effort required between AP and the rest of the organization. Business owners should keep looking until they find an AP automation system with built-in collaboration and streamlined access to all necessary information. Things like documentation, purchase orders, invoice history, and whatever else necessary all contributed to businesses making informed decisions. In addition, solving AP communication issues makes for a faster, more accurate approval process. This helps businesses pay their vendors on time.

Using Financial Automation to Address the WFH Impact on Accounts Payable

According to Feldman, the accelerated rush to WFH in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic has impacted AP departments significantly. “Finance departments that relied on manual, paper-based processes suffered during the pandemic and had to urgently resolve this to be productive and effective in this remote environment,” he said.

For starters, businesses needed to rapidly digitize manual processes. CFOs and finance leaders everywhere were forced to push the priority for digital transformation to the top of the list. They needed to find remote-friendly tools that provided collaboration and integrated with their existing finance and accounting systems.

At the time, businesses focused on solving important everyday tasks. For example, businesses focused on approving and paying invoices. As a result, resolving communication and collaboration issues that were already in place prior to vacating office space wasn’t necessarily on the radar.

How Businesses Can Effectively Assess Current AP Systems

Many businesses remain hyper-focused on the payment and approval process as a measure of success, and of course, that’s completely understandable. However, there’s no denying the importance and relevance of these key financial indicators for gauging business performance.

In truth, however, there are many metrics to consider. If your AP team doesn’t know or have time to understand other key metrics because they’re just too busy getting invoices approved and paid, it’s probably time to automate.

Listed below are four additional metrics your AP people need to be aware of as they make the transition to a business model that includes an increase in WFH employees and vendors. You should make each of these metrics available. Additionally, you should clearly communicate to not only your AP team but key stakeholders across your entire organization. Finally, if you are looking at an AP financial automation system that does not offer this level of transparency and granularity, ask your AP folks for input.

1. Tracking, Reporting, and Leveraging Vendor Discounts

What percentage of discounts does your AP team currently capture for on-time payments or early pay each reporting period? Is your business leaving money on the table simply because an invoice sat on someone’s desk a few days too many? Rooting out and eliminating these oversights can add up quickly.

Being aware of discount payment opportunities is likely to highlight additional ways to achieve savings and reduce your overall AP costs. Taking even a small percentage off an invoice for prompt payment can add up over the course of time. AP automation can free time for your AP team to focus on increasing prompt-payment savings exponentially through negotiations with other vendors in your supply chain.

2. Increased Focus on Supplier Relationships 

How many supplier-side inquiries, discrepancies, and disputes are your AP team dealing with? Unfortunately, in far too many cases, businesses are just trying to stay ahead of the invoice stack and approve payments just to keep the business operational. Ask your AP people if they’ve ever had misgivings about paying a specific invoice and they might list several.

If there is a specific issue, you need to address with regard to a particular invoice? Additionally, is there an ongoing problem with a vendor? Automating AP paperwork will give your people the “breathing room” they need to do a better job. Specifically, they will do a better job of following up on any questionable transactions.

3. Spotting Inaccurate and/or Duplicate Payments

What percentage of monthly payments are incorrect? Who made them, and why did they make them? These are vital statistics for assessing where your business might be leaking cash unnecessarily. Most often, inaccurate payments are the result of simple mistakes, but not always. AP financial automation brings both clarity and increased accountability.

Having a better understanding of inaccurate or duplicate invoicing very often leads to uncovering further training needs. This could also lead to process problems or software issues. Understanding the rate of duplicate payments can identify two things. First, they can identify whether a vendor is double billing, in addition to whether there are other potential risks of fraud.

4. Tracking Team Efficiencies

Which team members process the most invoices? Automation can show you who is using their time efficiently and who is struggling. It’s good to hone in on the team members experiencing problems. This can help you identify whether or not you need to resolve an issue of better training methods. Other issues you may need to look into could include process improvements or distribution of workload.

The AP roadblocks and complications created by an increased need for remote work aren’t going away any time soon. Unchecked, these issues can cause additional friction and distancing between AP and other business units. To smooth things over, many businesses would benefit by partnering with AP automation services. It’s okay if you haven’t yet considered this option. It’s helpful to start with a little research simply by asking your AP employees for feedback.

Image credit: nataliya vaitkevich; pexels; thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Politics

5 Ways To Grow Your Business With Technology

Published

on

Brad Anderson


“I’d like my business to remain stagnant.” No entrepreneur, owner, or CEO ever uttered those words. You can be sure none ever will, either. That’s because corporate growth is always an overarching goal for any organization. Growing your business comes with its challenges, of course, like figuring out which steps will make it easiest for you to scale and expand.

One thing’s clear: You need to develop a clear-cut growth strategy. And technology needs to play a huge part in that strategy. After all, we’re living in a primarily technological world. If you’re not making the most of the tech at your fingertips, you regularly miss opportunities to strengthen your brand’s position.

Where can you start? Below are a handful of ways that you can leverage technology to grow your business’s footprint. Try these recommendations, whether you’re a micro startup or a mid-size corporation headed toward a Fortune 500 future.

1. Automate repetitive manual processes.

Is it worth automating all the mindless to-dos in your business in order to grow? Yes, especially if you do the numbers.

McKinsey research studied the ordinary tasks of several occupations. They concluded that around 33% of the tasks of six out of 10 jobs could be automated. For example, let’s say your company is modestly sized at 50 workers. If your staffers work a traditional 40-hour week, 30 of them are frittering away 13 hours. In other words, you’re losing nearly 400 hours weekly to pay employees to handle repetitive duties.

To be sure, not all tasks can be automated. However, you owe it to yourself to find ones that can. For example, is your finance department team processing payroll or inputting invoices by hand? Then, invest in software to remove the tedium—and reduce the chance of human error.

Check out your sales and services processes next. Do your salespeople or support agents have to cut and paste information? Are they forced to switch between two or more programs that don’t communicate? Look for ways to integrate those systems to free up everyone’s valuable time so they can concentrate on growth-based responsibilities.

2. Strive to make customer first impressions stickier with tech tools

Tons of articles highlight the importance of growing your business by retaining customers. It’s true that retention tends to be less expensive than acquisition. Nevertheless, you can’t hold onto your customers until you get them in the door. So put a premium on delivering impeccable first impressions that urge people to stick around.

The right type of technology can assist you in wowing your best leads via an unforgettable customer experience. Take first-time logins, for instance. Okta reports that asking a visitor to set up an account turns off 37% of prospects. So what can you do to overcome this friction point? First, you can rely on social logins to streamline the process. From the customer’s viewpoint, being able to login via already-existing Facebook, Google, or credentials is effortless. From your company’s viewpoint, you can begin marketing to yet another buyer or potential buyer.

A strong CRM can be equally beneficial to moving leads into and down your sales funnel. Once you’ve captured prospects’ data through a social sign-in, personalize future communications like emails, texts, and DMs. Only two years ago, McKinsey found that 80% of retail buyers valued the personal touch. So whether you’re in retail or not, strive for individualization to keep new buyers coming back.

3. Bring a virtual assistant to your team.

You may not have the funds to hire live customer service representatives 24/7. That’s okay. Chatbots can give your organization the ability to offer visitors self-service, even during non-business hours. And they can do it for a fraction of what you’d pay a live agent.

Not sure you’re ready to put your faith in a chatbot? A New York Times article explains that today’s AI-fueled chatbots are only getting smarter. They’re also gaining widespread acceptance, with chatbot growth poised to hit around 15% in 2022. One Gartner executive even predicts that a genuinely conversational AI chatbot program is just around the corner.

Already, some chatbots are inching toward humanlike responses. A University of Florida experiment found that about a third of people could not tell a chatbot from a real person. Consequently, there’s little harm in exploring the wide world of chatbots for your company. Your chatbot doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated by customers with questions who want fast answers.

4. Investigate tech solutions to tap into your data.

Tremendous amounts of data flow into your company. Yet it would be impossible for you and your team to make sense of it all. Does that mean you have to give up on finding a way to unearth your data’s insights? Not at all. You just need a tech-based data mining solution.

You have plenty of choices regarding software that can analyze data and find trends. First, though, determine where your data exists. Is it in your CRM? Or a legacy piece of software? Once you know where to find your data, you can search for highly-rated data mining systems.

Be aware that some data mining programs have been developed with specific industries in mind. These can include healthcare, finance, e-commerce, or manufacturing. It never hurts to see if something’s already been created for your sector.

5. Invest in a branded mobile app.

Mobile app use continues to rise. By 2025, one Forbes writer notes that the app market will approach $1 trillion. So why, then, doesn’t your brand have an app of its own?

This is the question a lot of business leaders are asking themselves. Offering customers the chance to interact with your company through an app makes sense. Not only does it give them an immediate connection to your organization, but it simplifies the purchasing process. At the same time, it helps buyers feel that they’re getting special treatment as you deploy push notifications and exclusive offers.

How can you make the most of your app once it’s been developed? First, make sure your customers know it exists. Lots of brands have apps that get very few downloads. The issue isn’t necessarily the app itself. It’s that they don’t know the app is available. Therefore, be diligent and consistent about talking up your app to drive higher usage and conversions.

You’re not alone if you feel that growing your business isn’t happening as fast as you like. Most leaders wish that they could get to the next plateau faster. One method to add a little speed to the process is to lean into the technologies you’re not using yet. Then, with the right combination of tech tools, you should begin to see a positive difference in your numbers.

Image Credit: Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

Continue Reading

Politics

The Developer’s Guide to Mobile Authentication

Published

on

Deepak Gupta


Mobile app developers must ensure that the mobile app is effortless while keeping internal information protected and secure. Complex or repeated authentications can be frustrating for your mobile app users.

This article discusses various means of simple and secure mobile authentication, ensuring frictionless UI and UX of mobile authentication screens and data security.

What is Mobile Authentication?

Mobile authentication is a security method to verify a user’s identity through mobile devices and mobile apps. It caters to one or more authentication methods to provide secure access to any particular app, resource, or service.

Let’s look at the various mobile authentication methods developers can utilize depending on their business use case.

Mobile Authentication Methods

Password-based Authentication

Email-Password and Username-Password are common types of password-based authentication. While utilizing these methods, developers should consider setting secure and robust password policies in their authentication mechanism, such as:

  • Mandatory use of symbols and numbers
  • Restricting the use of common passwords
  • Blocking the use of profile information in passwords

These measures ensure better quality passwords and prevent user accounts from brute force and dictionary password attacks.

Limitation: Passwords are hard to remember, and typing in passwords on a small mobile screen degrades the user experience. Hence, developers must use authentication that does not compromise the security postures yet provide an appropriate user experience.

Patterns and Digit-based Authentication

The user must set a pattern or a digit-based PIN (typically 4 or 6 digits). Developers can utilize this as an authentication factor for their mobile application, as this authentication method is faster and more comfortable than entering passwords on a mobile screen.

Limitation: Both patterns and 4 or 6 digits PINs are limited. Also, users tend to use simple patterns and PINs like L or S patterns and 1234, 987654, date of birth as their password.

OTP-based Login

Users use an OTP received via SMS or email to authenticate themself. Thus, users do not have to remember a password, pattern, or PIN to access their account. At the same time, developers don’t have to implement password-based security mechanisms.

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication uses unique biological traits of users for mobile authentication. Some common examples of biometric authentication are fingerprint scanning, face unlocks, retina scans, and vocal cadence.

Developers can implement pre-coded libraries and modules to enable authentication through mobile components like the finger scanner, camera (for facial recognition), and microphone (for voice-based identification).

Social Login

It acts as a single sign-on authentication mechanism. Developers can implement this in mobile apps to use users’ login tokens from other social networking sites to allow access to the app.

Also, with social login, developers don’t need to worry about storing passwords securely and managing the password recovery option. It helps the user sign in to the mobile app without creating a separate account from within the app, hence increasing the user experience (UX).

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) in Mobile Authentication

Login and registration screens are a gateway to your mobile applications; if they are a hassle, the user might not bother using the application. Thus, developers should pay a lot of attention to these screens regarding user experience and usage.

Here are some quick tips for mobile authentication screens:

  • Simple Registration Process: Lengthy registration forms are a big no-no. Brainstorm essential information for creating an account via mobile application and only include those fields.
  • External or Social Login: Allow users to log in via external or social accounts. This way, users don’t have to remember another password or credentials for your app.
  • Facilitate Resetting: Include forget password on the login screen for good visibility and reach if the app provides password-based login. Also, setting the new password should be seamless and fast.
  • Keep Users Logged In: Not logging out users on app close is helpful in a good experience. However, this depends on the type of app you offer. Developers should include MFA for better security if the app stores sensitive information or skip the stay logged-in feature altogether.
  • Meaningful Error Messages: Errors and how they are handled directly impact user experience. Thus, developers should keep error messages meaningful and clearly state what went wrong and how to fix it.

Tip: Customize the mobile app keyboard for the type of input field. For example – display a numeric keyboard when asking for a PIN and include @ button when asking for an email address.

Conclusion

Considering the above points would result in a great and secure user experience for your mobile app users. However, if you feel executing these guidelines would take ample time, be informed that CIAM solutions are available in the market to handle all these requirements for you.

Deepak Gupta

Co-founder and CTO @LoginRadius

Founder and CTO @LoginRadius, Software Entrepreneur. I love to write about Cyber Security, AI, Blockchain, Infrastructure Architecture, Software Development, Cyberspace Vulnerabilities, Product Management, Consumer IAM, and Digital Identities.

Continue Reading

Politics

10 Practical Ways to Maximize Your After-Work Time

Published

on

Calendar


After‌ ‌work, you probably want a relaxing, stress-free night. And that makes sense. Planning activities like reading or meditating can help relieve stress when things get tough at work.

In addition, you can use this time to expand your knowledge or develop your skills. Additionally, you can engage in new experiences or pursue a passion.

The benefits of participating in these activities can range from increasing your productivity to improving your health and general well-being.

With that said, here are 10 practical ways to maximize your after-work time.

1. Tie up loose ends.

My mom had a tradition that she followed every evening when I was a child. As soon as we got home from school, we had to clean up the house. It wasn’t a long bit of cleaning — usually, she set a timer for 20-minutes. Obviously, we whined about this and the time trying to get out of it was likely longer than the actual time spent. But this effort and habit kept the house tidy and saved us from major cleanings if the cleaning had waited until the weekend.

After I finish working for the day, I will set a timer for 20-30 minutes and tidy up. ‌Or,‌ ‌I‌ ‌can‌ ‌handle items on my to-do list I couldn’t do during the day. Even though that’s not a lot of time, you’d be surprised at what you can actually accomplish.

You can clean dishes, fold laundry, make a grocery list, clean your calendar, or send‌ an important ‌email. ‌In addition, a timer can be a great way to tie up the day’s loose‌ ‌ends‌ ‌and help your transition from work.

2. Get a weeknight hobby.

Commit to an out-of-the-home activity after work. Some ideas could be an exercise class, volunteering, or a night out with friends. ‌Then, rather than spending your time at home, you’ll have more time to do what you ‌care‌ ‌about.

“By scheduling your time after work, you are more likely to stick to your most important ‘to-do’ items. Many people find that they are most productive when they have more to do,” says Dr. Lisa N. Folden, licensed physical therapist and naturopathic lifestyle coach, owner of Healthy Phit Physical Therapy & Wellness Consultants. “By having a scheduled event after work—especially one that can double as exercise—you have more accountability to avoid sitting around aimlessly scrolling through your phone or watching TV.”

3. Sweat it out.

Yes, I am aware. ‌You’re well aware of the importance of physical activity. ‌However, this still can’t be stressed enough. There is no doubt that a regular exercise program boosts your creativity, confidence, and resilience — whether in the workplace or the home.

In short, moving your body is one of the best things you can do to boost your productivity. ‌After all, exercising relieves stress and relieves mental strain. The result? You’ll sleep better and be more energetic.

So, block out time at the end of the day — to go for a run, ride a bike, or join an exercise class. Other ideas would be playing with your pet or kids, dancing, or getting caught up on a chore.

4‌. ‌Enjoy‌ ‌the‌ ‌company of those‌ ‌you‌ ‌love.

Spend quality time with those who are important to you, such as family, friends, and colleagues. ‌Not only does it make life worthwhile, but it’s good for you too. ‌It releases endorphins and lowers stress when you talk to your spouse, kids, siblings, parents, or friends. Even a simple phone call with a loved one can benefit your well-being.

What’s more, with friends and family, there are lots of fun things to do, such as;

  • Go to a restaurant or host dinner ‌at‌ ‌home.
  • Visit a museum or art gallery.
  • Go for a walk after dinner.
  • Host a game night.
  • Attend a concert or sporting event.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Participate in a group activity, like bowling.
  • Attend classes together.

5. Address your needs.

“This may seem totally out of place in an article about getting a lot done after work, but hear me out,” writes Rachell Buell over The Muse. “While it’s very important to make the most of your time, the only way you will have enough energy to do so is by first attending to your basic needs.” ‌Also, get plenty of sleep, eat, and relax. “By addressing these needs, you allow yourself the quintessential element to productivity: sustainability.”

“A few weeks ago, I had a serious moment of panic,” Buell shares. “Feeling completely overwhelmed by everything on my plate, I lost my cool.” ‌Regaining my composure, I came up with a brilliant idea:‌ ‌a sanity‌ ‌list,” she added.

“The list included things like doing daily yoga and drinking 64 ounces of water every day of water ‌and‌ ‌cuddling‌ ‌with‌ ‌my‌ ‌husband. ‌Whenever I cross everything off my list, I feel like a million bucks, and I’m fired up for more.”

“After a long day of work, most of us need time to switch gears and give ourselves a mental break before we try to accomplish anything else,” Buell says. “Whether that’s plopping in front of the TV to catch up on the day’s news or going for a jog to take the edge off, take a moment and consider what you need to feel recharged during the week, and keep it on your sanity list.”

6. Write out your priorities.

Is there ever a time when you feel like something is a high priority when it’s ‌not? ‌When prioritizing productivity, it can be easy to focus on getting more done rather than considering what is really important.

At the beginning of each week, I find it helpful to prioritize everything on my to-do list. Then, during the week, I navigate my time more efficiently by determining how essential a given item is. Personally, I use the Eisenhower Matrix to assist me with this.

By figuring out where each item fits in, you can focus on where to begin. ‌For example, when doing home projects, start with the most essential stuff — then move to the middle and lower priority stuff. ‌With work projects, you can start the next day knowing what needs to happen in what order.

Best of all? Creating a list of priorities can help you feel accomplished even if you don’t start the project yet.

7. Get outside.

Are you familiar with “nature deficit disorder”? ‌Initially, Richard Louv used the phrase in his book Last‌ ‌Child‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Woods:‌ ‌Saving‌ ‌Our‌ ‌Children‌ ‌From‌ ‌Nature-Deficit‌ ‌Disorder. ‌Louv‌ ‌says our indoor lifestyles are causing a lot of health and behavioral issues.

Even if you think that’s a stretch, studies have found that we spend 92% of time indoors. And that can negatively influence our physical and mental health. Why? Because it’s a simple way to reduce stress, increase happiness, and live healthier.

Moreover, connecting with nature and the outdoors can replenish your energy.

With that in mind, Rachel Hopman, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Northeastern University, suggests that you live by the 20-5-3 rule;

  • 20-minutes. ‌Twenty minutes is how much time you should spend outside, like at ‌a‌ ‌neighborhood‌ ‌park,‌ ‌three‌ ‌times‌ ‌a‌ ‌week.
  • 5-hours. ‌Five hours is the minimum amount of time you should spend each month in semi-wild nature, like a forest‌, city, or state‌ ‌park.
  • 3-days. ‌You should go camping or rent a cabin three times a year to escape it all.

8. Power down.

In today’s culture, many of us are overly attached to social media and our smartphones. In fact, DataReportal estimates the average American looks at a screen for 7 hours and 4 minutes a ‌day. So why’s that a problem? Research has found too much screen time cal lead to digital eye strain, impaired sleep, and ‌diminished mental health.

Furthermore, too much screen time can result in information overload. And it’s also distracting when we’re trying to get things done.

Therefore, setting boundaries around your phone and social media use is vital. For example, set a timer to limit how long you ‌play‌ ‌games‌, watch videos, ‌or‌ ‌scroll ‌on social‌ ‌media. If that doesn’t work, keep your phone in a different room or make sure you shut down all social media at a specific time each night.

Initially, this will be awkward. But you may be surprised how much more alive you feel when you’re away from screens. ‌Eventually, you’ll feel re-energized rather than worn out‌ ‌after‌ ‌work.

9. Invest in yourself.

Did you know that the former CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, studied improv comedy? Why? ‌Learning improv comedy improved his leadership skills.

Investing in yourself is ‌vital to success, whether that means getting some coaching, participating in psychotherapy, taking a workshop, working on more hours for graduate school, or completing a certification program. You could also learn how to play a musical instrument, join a book club, watch a documentary, or take a language course.

Overall, you’ll succeed in your professional career whether you invest in your mind, body, or spirit.

10. Follow an evening routine.

“It’s clear that you need a specific morning routine to optimize each day and be more efficient,” writes Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar post. However, “a successful morning routine actually starts the night before,” she adds. “Simply put, you need an effective evening routine to maximize efficiency and productivity the following day.”

So, what should your evening routine consist of? Well, that’s up to you. But, here are some suggestions worth exploring;

  • Plan out your day. ‌Look at your calendar to find out what’s on your agenda for tomorrow. Doing so gets you mentally prepared and makes any adjustments.
  • Pick out your clothes. ‌The task may sound insignificant. But it will save you a lot of time and energy that you could use elsewhere.
  • Eliminate negativity and reflect. ‌You can reflect on your day in the evening and choose‌ ‌gratitude‌ ‌over negativity.
  • Read. ‌Turn off the television and read a book while you wind down for the evening.
  • Prepare meals. Mornings are already hectic. Save your sanity and energy by preparing your meals the night before.

Published First on Calendar. Read Here.

Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!

Calendar

We are Calendar, trying to make the world a much more productive place. Check us out online at https://www.calendar.com.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2021 Seminole Press.