Automation in Spend Management and Why Every CIO should Think About It: Ashok Dhar, President and CEO, ExpenseAnywhere

India, according to CIMA, is one of the top three countries in the world as far as adoption of robotic process automation is concerned

Automation, as we are all aware, has various benefits. Nonetheless, automation is yet to see a full-fledged adoption in India. In an interview with DataQuest, Dr. Ashok Dhar, President and CEO, ExpenseAnywhere, talks about the need of automation in expense management, challenges faced in deployment in the India market, and some trends in the years to come.


Need for automation in expense management

A recent report last year claimed that 86% of companies in India lack proper travel and expense automation solutions in spite of it being the second largest controllable cost for businesses. We estimate a clear lack of automation in corporate spend management in over 90% of organizations, globally.

Automating accounts payable processes may seem like a ‘good to have’ as compared to a ‘need to have, but that is precisely where CFOs/CXOs are missing out on efficiencies and bottom line improvement.

ExpenseAnywhere sponsored Levvel Research Report (2019 Payables Insight Report) found that lack of automation in accounts payable management resulted in issues such as –

  • Significant waste of time in manual entry & processing of vouchers
  • Lack of proper audit trail and associated inefficiencies
  • Error-prone processes
  • Lack of visibility into key spend areas & poor analytics/intelligence gathering capabilities
  • Detrimental impact on organizational bottom-line
  • Poor compliance

Some benefits of automation

The benefits are overwhelming and often felt within weeks of deployment of an expense automation solution! Just consider this, an end to end ERP integrated, a cloud-native solution that completely automates the accounts payables, can dramatically reduce paper trail, eliminate errors, reduce overall AP processing costs, ensure enhanced compliance with corporate and regulatory requirements, identify potential for savings and improve supplier relationships.

Better yet, it frees up crucial employee band-with to focus on higher value tasks.

Automation empowers leadership with real-time visibility into spend metrics for planning and vendor negotiations. Traditionally, based on company policies and procedures, a single paper voucher can cost anywhere in the range of 15 to 30 dollars to process manually. The costs in India might be lesser, but when you factor in the scale at which these invoices are generated, it translates into a hefty sum of money. So companies concerned about the expense of deploying an automation solution need to understand that such a system not only pays for itself but adds to savings!

Challenges associated with deployment of automation in a market like India

According to a CIMA report, India is one of the top three countries in the world when it comes to adopting robotic process automation. Yet, we foresee a cultural shift from traditional licensed software solutions to subscription-based cloud-native automated solutions as one of the biggest challenges. However, large corporations today are ready to explore and adopt newer technology solutions that enable them to improve processes and compete better in the global economy.

Trends in the automation space in the years to come

Once again, drawing from our understanding of the market evolution in India, US, and Europe, we feel that some of the key trends to watch out for will include –

  • Availability of diverse software solutions at various price points targeting different business automation needs. This, of course, would open up the automation market and adoption by SMEs and start-ups.
  • Digital transformation of Accounts Payable processes and Payments.
  • Expense automation will become a significant factor for businesses wanting to achieve scale and competitive advantage.
  • Contextual automation. Businesses will realize that ‘one size does not fit all’. Therefore, there will be a need to analyze specific scenarios and adopt solutions contextual to a business’s digitization needs

Solutions offered by ExpenseAnywhere and GTM strategy for India

At ExpenseAnywhere, we offer highly configurable, robust, cloud-native and innovative global solutions for end-to-end automation of Accounts Payable processes. The technology stack built into our solutions utilizes proprietary and highly advanced OCR-based Pattern Recognition technology, Artificial intelligence, and Machine Learning algorithms to deliver the highest degree of automation necessary to meet organizational automation needs.

AS a USA based company with a strong commitment to India, we have spent considerable time and effort in understanding the needs of this market and enhanced our products to deliver the functionality required by the businesses in India.

Today, ExpenseAnywhere Travel & Expense Portal for India is the only and the most comprehensive platform that provides end-to-end automation of travel and expense management processes integrated with many online travel booking systems, including ThomasCook; InvoiceAnywhere for complete management of Procure-to-Pay and Invoice management processes, and PurchaseAnywhere for the management of  Prepaid Purchase Cards.

These solutions together provide the most comprehensive management of corporate spend. ExpenseAnywhere solutions are completely accessible over the web and through mobile apps for both iOS and Android.

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