According to SAP’s new report, “The connected SMB: Embracing digital strategies to fuel growth,” Australian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could save tens of thousands of dollars a year by transitioning to e-invoicing.
The report found that Australian SMBs process an average of 168 invoices each month. With a Deloitte study estimating that e-invoicing could deliver savings of up to $20 per invoice, Australian SMBs could save up to $40,320 a year.
The biggest impact on 75 per cent of SMBs that have transitioned has been the time and money saved. Over half said it improved the accuracy of record keeping (56 per cent) and was more secure (53 per cent).
“Running an SMB comes with its challenges, but switching to digital processes has been key to the survival of many businesses during the pandemic,” SAP ANZ MB Segment lead Sofiane Ainine said.
“It frees up time and money to focus on other priorities like developing new products and finding new customers. Now is the time for SMBs to review their adoption of technology. This will help them through the current crisis and set them up for future growth.”
According to Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise ombudsman Bruce Billson, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of adopting technology to help small businesses innovate. Increasing efficiency and productivity, attracting new customers and improving customer and employee experience helps to create more jobs.
“It’s encouraging that the research in this SAP report shows SMBs accelerating digital technology adoption,” Billson said.
“Technologies like e-invoicing improve process efficiency and, importantly, will see small businesses paid more quickly for the products and services they provide.”
Innovation in action
Mining equipment manufacturer, Geographe Enterprises, needed to update its business technology in support of its strategic vision to expand into new markets and refine its product sets around continued innovation.
Implementing an intelligent ERP system built on SAP S/4HANA Cloud has helped the business reduce lead times by as much as 50 per cent. Automated core processes and greater operational efficiencies have reduced some workloads by more than 15 per cent.
“Due to COVID-19, we have moved to hybrid working. Having a scalable IT landscape with greater transparency and real-time data helped us become more responsive to customer needs,” Geographe Enterprises CEO Sam Hyder said.
“We can now confidently predict customer demand and optimise production, inventory and our supply chain accordingly.”
Switching is easy
SAP’s research shows that 88 per cent of SMBs that switched to e-invoicing said it was an easy transition, with 18 per cent transitioning without external support.
Some of the biggest challenges people encountered included integrating the process into computer systems (36 per cent) and understanding what software to use (31 per cent).
Nearly half of SMBs are mostly digital in their invoicing and record keeping. Of this group, 26 per cent sought advice from their internal IT department, followed by an external IT company (24 per cent), their accountant (26 per cent), a consultant (22 per cent) or the government (18 per cent).
“SMB owners shouldn’t feel like they are alone on this journey,” Ainine said.
“There are many sources of support ready to help them overcome hurdles and make the most of opportunities by sharing experiences and advising on the best approaches for their business. It’s about taking it one step at a time, learning what works and implementing digital initiatives that align to their goals.”
A digital future
The past 18 months has fast-tracked the transition to digital processes for many SMBs and increased their appetite for transformation. The SAP research found 75 per cent of SMBs who use e-invoicing are looking to digitise other business processes. Payroll is the top focus (72 per cent), followed by forecasting (42 per cent), debt collection (38 per cent), customer experience (33 per cent) and talent management (28 per cent).
Over half of SMBs plan to digitise all account and account management processes within the next two years, with 44 per cent aiming to do so within the next 12 months.
To help them get there, 57 per cent of business owners and managers agree that increased government support in the form of information, services, subsidies and grants would help their business continue to drive forward digital initiatives and change.
Learn more about e-invoicing at SmallBiz Essentials Seminars
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23-24 March, 2022 l Melb