Manual processes costing employers billions per year

Staff are spending about half a day each month on expense claims — managers, even more hours approving them

Manual processes costing employers billions per year

A new study revealed that employers in Asia can lose up to US$21.5 billion per year over inefficient manual administrative processes.

Time spent filing and approving claims can translate to potential revenue each year, considering how all the lost hours are diverted to more productive work.

More than one in three (38%) of professionals file expense claims manually by filling out a form and submitting physical receipts. Such a manual process is tedious, error prone, and don’t fit with the digital lifestyles of today.

READ MORE: Many Singaporean firms fail to adapt amid COVID-19

Employees spent an average of 4.5 hours per month filing expense claims – about half a typical workday, according to a study commissioned by SAP Concur. Asia Insight, which conducted the survey, used International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics.

Managers had it worse – they spent 6.1 hours reviewing and approving expense claims, in addition to the 4.5 hours they spent submitting their own claims. That added up to an astonishing 10.6 hours a month.

Unsurprisingly, half (49%) of respondents said they are less than satisfied with their organisation’s expense claims process.

However, transforming the process may be easier said than done. The study found that there’s currently inadequate support to upgrade expense management systems into more modern payment methods.

Close to a third (29%) of leaders said they want their claims processes to integrate with existing umbrella apps to enable added functionality like reimbursement of payments.

READ MORE: 'Weak' leadership killing transformation efforts

Overall, the study showed that transforming manual processes is crucial for employee experience. Almost two-thirds (65%) of employees felt a very strong or somewhat strong link between their overall finance and administrative experience and their overall satisfaction of working for their firm.

This suggests that if businesses want to retain their talent, they need to improve their finance and administrative processes.

“Tweaking the process for something as seemingly trivial as expense claims can have a large multiplier effect on business and economic costs,” said Adrian Tan, managing director at Asia Insight.

He added that this is especially crucial as many firms try ‘to do more with less’ amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Andy Watson, senior vice president and general manager, Asia Pacific Japan and Greater China at SAP Concur chimed in that this year is ripe for such an impactful transformation.

“With the unprecedented number of people working from home in 2020, this is really a watershed year for companies to manage employee productivity,” said Watson.

“While remote workers are well supported digitally in many areas, crucial yet often overlooked finance and administrative processes remain painfully manual. This takes up significant time that could otherwise be used for productive, customer value-added work.”

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