How back office automation will help your facilities management business

How back office automation will help your facilities management business
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It’s surprising how many organisations still carry out their back-office processes manually, using multiple spread sheets and outdated disparate systems that often fail to provide all the information they need.  

Gathering all the evidence to prove an invoice is accurate, for example, can require an enormous amount of unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing with lots of room for human error and giving little confidence to the bill payer about its accuracy.

It’s the admin merry-go round – created by admin, resolved by admin – with nobody challenging the processes they have been using for years. 

Accurate invoicing is arguably the most important cog in the back-office machine. How else will you collect your company’s hard-earned cash?  

An unpaid invoice is way more costly than you think in terms of time and energy. Cash flow is king in any business and employing a team to chase debts and recoup fees, diverts resources that could be used on more productive activities.

Of course, at the extreme end, there’s also the cost of out-sourcing debt recovery.

Bill payer confidence 

How many of your customers adhere to your payment terms?

A high Day Sales Outstanding rate (DSO) will impact cash flow and delays are commonly due to quite valid questions from customers about rates, parts, times and completion.  

The crux of the problem is that customers don’t have the information they need to make payment decisions because suppliers don’t present the information to prove billing accuracy.

So, if you find yourself wondering ‘there must be a better way’ then it’s time to switch gear and find a solution to eliminate the, quite literally, millions of routine tasks, spreadsheets, paper and manual touchpoints taking up unproductive admin workforce hours for not only invoicing but almost every back-office process. 

Optimised Service and Asset Management

Imagine a world where all work history, including quotes, job sheets, parts used, rates, compliance certification and customer signature are all stored together.

Alongside these, other important documents, photographic and video proof can also be placed so that everyone knows exactly what work has been done and the costs involved, followed by automatic invoicing as soon as the job is complete. 

Many customers realise they need to embrace digital transformation to rationalise their administration processes during periods of growth, especially when they’ve acquired new businesses.

Automation of back-office tasks, and the insight the right system can provide enables key decisions to be made about restructuring. Customers can typically reduce the number of people involved in scheduling and administration by 15%.   

One customer saw a 96% efficiency improvement in administration, increased billing accuracy and improved cashflow, which are all key drivers when embarking on modernising systems. A good platform will allow a smooth onboarding of new businesses whilst enabling them to maintain their own identity.   

Digital transformation also allows costs and charges to be automatically calculated.  The right platform should be able to store, at a single point, contract data, schedules of rates, parts costs and mark-ups so an engineer’s rates, parts use (both buy and sell per contract) are all captured and applied to a final invoice with all supporting documentation.

This process is even more important when companies within a group are sharing services and contra charging which can double the group’s admin costs when there is a non-systematic solution. 

 

Complete Compliance 

Compliance and certification are another carousel for admin.  Service organisations and their customers benefit hugely from the ‘belt and braces’ security offered by a system that automatically confirms documentation is completed, and all essential compliance certification is visible and linked to invoices.  

But why not also include surveys, new installation commissioning documents, and quotes for works above the approved contract rates?

The ability to automate three-way matching, and for consolidated or part invoicing is another huge bonus. And if you use sub-contractors, you can provide them with a summary of work and a payment certificate that they invoice against – rather than going through all their invoices for each job they have done, they just review and invoice. 

 A well-built and fully customisable platform, can transform the review and invoicing process and when all the required data is available, makes it a matter of simply review and a click to issue. A posting file to your accounts package will ensure interdepartmental transparency and shared data via custom portals allows your customers to have everything they need to prove a job well done.  

Spare Parts Management

Another cumbersome process is van stock management. Effective parts management and automatic replenishment help you achieve the highest number of first-time fixes or ‘completes’ per day.

The right back-office system should be able to automatically replenish van stocks based on the parts you will likely need for the asset you are working on. This also includes stock management in warehouses and forward stock locations/pick up drop offs. 

This should extend to raising quotations, fixing lists, bills of materials and managing the sales order process from inception to acceptance to delivery, installation and commissioning.  

Customised and Efficient Automation

Aeromark’s configurable software removes the risk of human error, and with accurate information, the possibility of disputes and delays to payment is reduced saving time for everyone. 

The benefit to the customer is just as great. Fully customisable invoices can offer full visibility of the fee for every aspect of a service call which means that customers understand exactly what they are being charged for.

Branded customer reports can be automatically generated to ensure they customer have has all the evidence they need to quickly sign off the work for digital invoicing and swift payment. 

It’s time to ditch the paperwork, spreadsheets and admin and let digital transformation ensure your customers have no doubts when it comes to paying their bills. And if you don’t think this applies to your business, follow a job around and see just how long it takes.

Count the touchpoints. Every one of them costs time and money. So, is it time for your business to get off the admin merry-go round?

This article was first published in Facilities Management Journal in April 2024.

 

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