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How automating manual rebate processes can benefit your finance team

Posted by Elizabeth Allcock on April 13, 2020 11:42:07

In today’s business world, the finance department including the CFOs are expected to deliver accurate information more quickly than ever. But with large volumes of information, data is spread across an array of sources such as spreadsheets, emails, and paperwork; which only increases the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies in the process. 

Companies are struggling to effectively manage, store and access this data wherever and whenever it might be. These manual financial processes are causing a slow-down and dramatic decline in productivity, but there is a solution that finance professionals are viewing as an opportunity rather than a threat. The solution is automation.

In fact, Grant Thorton, found in their 2018 CFO report that more than 40% of responding finance executives view each of the following outcomes as a potential benefit of implementing automation in the finance function: better data quality for strategic analysis (43%), increased process speed and efficiency (43%), and reduced errors (42%).

We discuss the many benefits for finance teams to automate their manual processes such as deal management in more detail below.

Saving your finance team time

Whether it’s manually keying in data, chasing payments or simply filing paperwork into cabinets, your finance department has lots of daily manual processes to complete. And valuable time can be lost when it comes to searching for information and correcting human error. It takes far less time for computers to do data entry.

By eliminating manual processes and adopting automation this will save your finance team time without compromising on quality. They can even learn new aspects of the business and you'll develop more accomplished employees.

Improved control and visibility

Having visibility into your manual processes is difficult because you can't always see how far your finance team have progressed with a certain task such as calculating rebates. As such, one of the major benefits of automation is predictability and control; you know exactly how your processes are being executed every time. In addition, automation is often able to consolidate processes by reducing the number of steps involved, decreasing the complexity.

Improved quality and reduced errors

If you're using manual processes such as spreadsheets to manage rebates, errors are nearly inevitable. What's more, the greater number of humans involved in the process, the greater the chances that mistakes will be introduced, especially with tedious tasks like rebate data entry. Automating your processes in a deal management system gives you consistency: the knowledge that as long as you've set up the data correctly, you'll always get back the right results.

Increased collaboration internally and externally

We have seen that supplier contracts are being negotiated and managed by multiple people across several teams within the business and within your suppliers’ businesses, which can cause problems to occur. But with a highly efficient collaborative portal in place the finance team can make sure everyone has visibility and every trading agreement has the appropriate approvals in place.  

A central deal repository ensures that both you and your supplier share an identical version of the trading agreement, forging a mutually agreed understanding whilst allowing internal management to sign off which includes finance, as well as external sign off by supplier.

Better decision-making to scale and grow

Too many businesses struggle to scale their manual processes under the weight of increased growth. For example, if your trading agreements with suppliers grow and become more complex you need more people to manage them but by using a deal management system this will help to manage a good amount of the workload.

By automating manual processes using technology like a deal management system this provides an intelligent approach to maintaining accurate rebate data, thus allowing the finance function to step away from data management and move towards providing strategic advice that will propel a business to further its growth and success.

Improved compliance and security

When everyone in the business can access and make edits to data, the situation can easily get out of control. There’s no way to enforce security around a manual process. We know that many organizations still use Excel spreadsheets to store rebate data which is risky in itself. Even if all participants do their best to maintain accuracy, errors are bound to occur. If you don’t catch those errors in time you can fall out of compliance.

By automating manual processes in the cloud, you can improve data security as sensitive information is no longer being passed around the office unguarded. All of the rebate data is stored and updated centrally, and finance leaders can control access so that each contributor can only manipulate data entries that are relevant to them.

Maximize rebate revenue

All too often deals which were skillfully negotiated by procurement are filed away in cabinets and the true value of them is never realized. Which means 4% of earned rebate revenue typically goes unclaimed.

By automating your rebate accounting processes this cuts down on the amount of labor your business needs and the number of mistakes you make. For example, if you have a finance team who are using multiple spreadsheets, a growing error rate can be very costly to the company.

To summarize, the main benefits of implementing a deal management system that automatically calculates your rebates are:

  • You’re no longer dependent on key people in your finance team to process all your rebate data
  • You can free up your finance team for more valuable tasks, like deal analysis and strategy
  • Human error is reduced, meaning your results are more reliable
  • You’re saving a significant amount of time that would have otherwise been spent on processing rebate data—which means cost savings
  • Greater visibility of your rebate data and maximize the earnings you make from your rebate deals

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Topics: Rebate Accounting, Rebate Management System, Industry sector: Finance