How Canadian manufacturers can drive growth with spend management automation


Industry Operations Manufacturing business growth business momentum Canadian manufacturers Increased automation SAP Concur spend management
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Canadian manufacturers have been at the forefront of using automation to drive operational efficiencies and business growth. With the unprecedented market volatility of the past few years, however, there has been a shift toward prioritizing spend management digitalization, and for good reason.

Nearly nine in ten executives say finding new ways to increase speed and flexibility in the management of travel, expense, and invoice is critical for their organizations to stay profitable and continue to grow.

Today’s leading spend management automation solutions use mobile apps, AI and machine learning, centralized dashboards, and data integration connectors to accelerate the capture, validation, and approval of expense reports, travel bookings, and supplier invoices.

Simply put, the benefits of automation apply to more than just your production line. When spend management processes rely on manual steps, such as manual data entry and data validation, it can result in limited visibility into company spending, high risk of non-compliance and undetected fraud, wasted time and money, and lower employee productivity and job satisfaction.


Conversely, when you digitize how your company manages every spending choice – controlling cash, costs, and regulatory compliance along the way – you can boost agility and momentum across your entire organization. This is particularly true for manufacturers.

How do your T&E and invoice management processes compare?

Due to their relative size, manufacturing companies process a higher-than-average number of supplier invoices and expense reports on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. In fact, in a recent survey of financial decision-makers from over 500 businesses globally2, more than two-thirds of manufacturing industry respondents agreed there were high costs associated with manually processing expenses and vendor invoices.

These costs were driven by incomplete expense and invoice documentation (72%), tax and compliance issues (69%), and a lack ofaudit trail and/or challenge to pull materials for audit prep (64%). Findings such as these underscore the urgent need for Canadian manufacturers to adopt spend management tools to boost compliance, reporting, planning, and visibility.

Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Can our current travel, expense, and invoice management solutions scale and adapt with our business?
  2. Do they seamlessly integrate with our other finance, ERP, CRM, and HR systems?
  3. Do our current solutions provide the business the intelligence we need to increase efficiencies, improve compliance, and better manage risk?

The value of mobile, AI, and data integration

Some of the advantages reported by manufacturing companies with cloud-based spend management automation include:

  • 70% fewer misplaced invoices
  • 67% reduction in late payments to suppliers
  • 61% reduction in misplaced expense receipts

There were also notable time savings for employees, including 119 hours saved weekly by accounting staff in processing expenses and 106 hours saved weekly in processing invoices. In addition:

More than two-thirds of manufacturing finance leaders said that automation has given their teams more time to focus on strategic company growth, which was previously limited by cumbersome administrative tasks.

The proven ROI of spend management automation

In the current economic climate where cashflow determines business agility, the impact automation has on the bottom line is also significant. In 2022, T&E software users reported a return on investment within 8 months on average and an average savings of $52K per year. Invoice management software users also saw a positive ROI within 8 months after Implementation and an average of $44k saved annually.

Increased automation = increased employee retention

What can’t be underemphasized is the benefit of automation to corporate culture. In general, people are looking for a better work experience. They want meaningful work and to know that they are set up for success with solutions that are enabling and empowering.

You can do just that by giving your employees an easy-to-use mobile app to snap photos of receipts, approve expense reports and invoices in real-time, and initiate payments while on-the-go. With the time saved, everyone will be able to focus on solving more pressing business challenges. In other words, the job they were hired to do.

“Getting ahead of burn out and talent shortages, while embracing new technology, can help manufacturers rethink and rebuild their businesses so they’re optimized for the new normal and able to ride out the crises ahead without slipping back into crisis mode.”

Drive business momentum with spend management automation

The key message is this: Ensure that everything that CAN be automated IS automated, from receipt capture to mileage, all the way through to AP processes.

By doing so, you’ll gain earlier visibility and increased control of all types of spending across the organization, ensure every planned purchase positively contributes to growth, and free up employees from labor-intensive tasks to drive sustainable growth for your manufacturing business.

Automating your spend management is easier than you may think.
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