How can we do more with less? It’s the one question that never leaves a business leader’s mind, assessing how they can drive greater productivity, long-term business performance and ultimately, success.

Of the CFOs responding to the recent American Express CFO survey, 85% anticipated that improved efforts to reduce costs would be a top business priority, followed by the need to invest in business growth, according to over three quarters (77%) of respondents. Adopting a digital payments process is just one way of promoting financial growth, freeing up team time and resources to focus on reaching the business’ goals.

Lack of payments infrastructure impacts the bottom line

Financial growth can be stimulated by a combination of speed, efficiency, and maintaining strong supplier and customer relationships, but a lack of payment infrastructure can lead to challenges and errors that take time to resolve and potentially impact those valuable relationships.

Indeed, our Power of Payments research, published last year, identified that the three biggest issues organisations experience with business payments directly impact the bottom line: late payments and the time taken to chase them, costly processes, and human error.

The research found that UK firms of all sizes are losing out on business as a result, with about one in six (16%) firms saying they’ve been unable to work with potential customers due to their own lack of payment infrastructure, limiting their long-term success. When it comes to making business purchases, buyers value a choice of payment methods, digital or automated options, and flexible payment terms – businesses that are unable to offer these to buyers risk losing out.

Digitised payments fundamental for long-term success

As a result, over two fifths (42%) of UK finance leaders believe that their payments processes need to be more efficient, and a further two-fifths (40%) think the time spent processing transactions needs to be quicker. The adoption of automation not only expedites processes but also significantly improves data accuracy, which is crucial to streamlining friction points that can arise within transactions and relationships between buyers and suppliers.

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Automated solutions drive efficiency, reduce the administration burden, and free up finance teams’ time, which they can use for more value-adding activity. When it comes to payments, the benefits are clear – almost half (46%) of businesses who have automated their payments have saved time, and almost two-fifths (39%) report fewer errors as a result.

In short, the benefits of digitising can be felt across the entire enterprise. With the peace of mind that the business’ payments processes are more accurate and take up less of the finance team’s time, business leaders can think strategically about long-term scalability and success, knowing that the payments function is supporting them in that goal.

Stacey Sterbenz is General Manager, UK Commercial, American Express