The Corpay One Mastercard® is here!
Apply Now
August 18, 2020

Nine Things Every Small Business Should Automate

Hilary Smith

Accounting automation. Finance automation. Payments automation.

Automation software is everywhere. Yet, organizations are still feeling the strain of running finance and accounting tasks manually.

Manual accounting and finance work isn't just time-consuming, it's expensive.

Here are the average costs businesses incur for some of the most common, everyday tasks:

  • It costs $12.90 on average to process a single invoice.¹ (If you have 100 invoices a month, that adds up - fast!)
  • Processing an expense report costs an average of  $58/report.²
  • The average organization loses 5% of revenue to fraud annually.³
  • Outsourcing a bookkeeper can cost up to $3000/month.

And, all of these everyday tasks tackle different components of an organization's finance and accounting process. Automating one doesn't eliminate the costs of another.

On top of that, the main reason organizations want to improve their expense processes is because they have poor visibility into accounting and finance data. In other words, there's no way to effectively manage what can't be seen.

It's nearly impossible to see bills, receipts, reimbursements, payments and vendors in one place.

Every day finance tasks are stuck midway between multiple automation tools - all of which process data differently - and piles of flawed, easily misplaced spreadsheets.

The annual CFO Indicator Report found that 85% of CFOs said their teams spent the majority of their time on non-value-added tasks, like gathering data, checking data accuracy and building reports.  And, on top of that, they revealed only 17% of their team's time is actually spent on strategy-driven work.

There are so many productivity gaps automation can bridge.

Read on to discover how automation can benefit essential areas of your small or scaling business: accounting, accounts payable, bookkeeping, fraud detection, expense management and more...


Businesses have expenses. And, to stay in business, those expenses need to be paid. Unfortunately, as businesses grow, so do their expenses and so does the work required to get those expenses paid.

Without automation, accounts payable can easily become a full-time job. That means, on top of the expenses a business already needs to pay, they need to pay an AP clerk to process them or take time out of their controller's schedule. That drastically increases the cost per invoice.

With automation, bills can be paid entirely hands-free and instantly. Even if your business pays by check (which 42% of B2B transactions are), automated payments platforms like Corpay One can process check payments for you, sending them right to your vendor. Even better? You can further automate and accelerate the payments process with DirectPay.

Your business can maintain excellent vendor relationships, without the overhead of manually processing and paying expenses.


If employees were to rank the day-to-day tasks from best to worst, submitting expense reports would likely be dead last. It's one of the most common frustrations at organizations across the globe.

On average, it takes a team member 20 minutes to complete just one expense report.² And in over 40% of organizations, it takes eight days or more for an expense report to be submitted, approved and reimbursed. But if the reports have errors - which every 1 in 5 reports do!² - the reimbursement process may take even longer.

An extended wait time for reimbursement can build resentment and increase frustration - especially when team members often have multiple expense reports to submit weekly. And, even if they are using a software tool to automatically scan receipts and bills, those tools rarely fill in every field. Employees are leaving the organization open to error and are spending more time than needed filling in fields a software tool could fill for them.

By using an automated expense reporting system, like Corpay One, your team can eliminate the manual work of getting reimbursed and scan, approve and organize expenses instantly. From scanning and printing and waiting - to just a few clicks. Plus, payments are initiated an average of one day after submission - rather than multiple days or even weeks later.

Expense Approvals

At Corpay One, we've heard expense approval horror stories. In 2020, organizations are still asking their employees to manually scan receipts and invoices. Then, their process includes printing the document, putting it on someone's desk to sign and then scanning it again.

Paper piles up. Expenses are delayed. Vendors are missing payments. Employees are waiting weeks for reimbursements.

This system is flawed at every step. Even if your team is using an automated tool, you still need a more sophisticated system to account for internal compliance and sending expenses to multiple approvers.


Every busy small business owner knows about "the bag." This is the bag of receipts and bills and other important expense documents business owners dump on their bookkeeper or accountant's desk near the end of the financial year.

And the bag? It's only filled after hours and hours of scrambling through every desk drawer to find every last, crumpled receipt. Even then, documents go unaccounted for - which presents audit risks or reduces the total expenses a business can claim.

With a tool that automatically scans receipts and bills, while instantly adding essential data (think, category, branch, department, etc...), bookkeeping is simplified.

You can reduce bookkeeping hours, while eliminating the stress of filling "the bag."

Duplicate Bill Detection

Paying the same bill twice - even just one time - can result in a substantial loss. Business owners don't often realize they've made the error until it's much too late - especially when it's on the vendor to come clean.

Small businesses don't have the same intricate financial systems and organized finance teams larger enterprises do. They also have less financial resources to lose in the case of a duplicate payment.

Using an automation tool to scan, flag, and reject duplicate bills eliminates this kind of financial risk.

Internal Audit Trails

Fraud, particularly internal fraud, is one of the greatest risks to businesses. In fact, small businesses with under 100 employees lose almost twice as much to fraud than larger businesses.³ They typically have fewer anti-fraud controls in place, which makes them more vulnerable.³

Trusted employees can find gaps in security and oversight, taking advantage of their employer. This often happens through methods like check tampering, altering payment information for vendors or submitting false documents.

When an organization goes entirely digital - and automated - with their payments and reimbursement processes, it becomes more difficult for fraud to sneak by. For example, Corpay One combats internal fraud by creating an instant audit trail for every bill, reimbursement and vendor profile. You can see every interaction a team member has with a payment-related item, with the ability to instantly flag suspicious behavior.


Reporting is what finance teams spend the majority of their time doing.

They are stuck between multiple softwares and spreadsheets - trying to marry data together and determine one source of truth. It's a flawed and frustrating process.

The modern cloud accounting system is built to be the ultimate source of truth for businesses. It's where you can determine exactly how much money your organization brought in and exactly how much you had to spend to make that happen.

Tools like Corpay One are designed to work as a layer on top of your accounting system, feeding all of the data for each expense, along with a complete picture of every document, to your accounting system in real time. That means you should never see a discrepancy between how much you have in accounts payable in Corpay One and your accounting system.

Data Entry

Manual data entry is inherently flawed. Even the most innocent errors can result in major discrepancies, losses or irretrievable time spent. When it comes to payments, organizations shouldn't put the integrity of their data or financial health at the whim of human error (the human race has achieved so many things, but flawlessly entering manual data isn't one of them).

Take, for example, an expense inaccurately entered at $1,000 - when the actual cost is only $100. A payments clerk, lacking the context of the team member, may initialize the payment. A vendor, either knowingly or unknowingly, accepts. One extra zero can result in paying 900% more than necessary. For a small business, that's a major loss.

And, it's not just monetary loss. It takes just about the same amount of time and money to correct an inaccurate expense report as it does to complete an expense report in the first place.² That's double the people hours and productive time spent on just one task.

Automation solves data entry errors by effectively eliminating data entry.

Vendor Management

For every bill, there's a vendor. And, vendors are rarely uniform in their expectations. They have different payment methods they accept. They have different styles of invoicing. You offer them different payment terms.

It's easy for a task like vendor management to require a full-time manager to organize vendors and align vendor expectations with accounts payable.

Automated vendor management eliminates the tactical management work. Automation can be used to extract vendor details and payment requirements from invoices. Then, that information is used to automatically pay the vendor according to their payment method and payment due date.

About Corpay One

Corpay One is a leading bill pay solution. Picture your bank’s bill pay - only smarter. You can build custom bookkeeping and approval workflows that work for your team. This is one effortless platform, designed to save you time, money and help you focus on what counts. For accountants and bookkeepers, Corpay One’s Advisors platform truly automates client accounting services. Get started today!

¹ Automating AP/AR Financial Processes, AIIM White Paper, 2014
² How Much Do Expense Reports Really Cost? Survey by GBTA Foundation and HRS, October 2015.
2018 Report to the Nations. Copyright 2018 by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc.
2019 Travel and Expense Management Trends Report, Certify, Inc.
CFO Indicator Q4 2016 Report, Adaptive Insights.
2019 AFP Electronic Payments Survey.

Continue reading