What are low-hanging fruits in business and finance and why digitize them?

Apr 05, 2024

It’s a smart idea to digitize finance functions in your business. But there may be a lot to digitize, which can be overwhelming.

One good piece of advice is that you want to focus your attention on the low-hanging fruit in business first. Not only is this satisfying, but you can also achieve higher efficiency by making quick progress on things that are easy to achieve. 

What is low-hanging fruit in terms of finance?

The low-hanging fruit principle is a principle that dictates you tackle easier and simpler projects that bear big visible rewards.

When it comes to financing systems and processes, the low-hanging fruit in business that you want to tackle first is likely to be an app or software that won’t take too much time to implement. It shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to integrate this software with your existing processes. 

This means that the project or software that you’ll first tackle in terms of your finance systems should be cheap and easy to get started on. More than that, a low-hanging fruit in business finance processes should not disrupt the rest of your operations during the implementation phase.

When they have been implemented, low-hanging fruits will also show quick results, meaning that you should be able to reap their benefits faster than longer, more complicated projects.

How to implement it across finance teams and digitize them?

1. Identify processes that take a long time to do

Oftentimes you can find low-hanging fruits in problems that are highly visible within your business.

You can start by identifying processes that take an unnecessarily long time to do in your business. For example, if there’s a month-end task that used to take only one or two days but now takes a week, then you will likely have a low-hanging fruit in business.

Processes that visibly take a long time can mean that a couple of fixes will reduce the time spent on them significantly. With modern solutions easily accessible, digitizing these processes can be easier than you think. 

2. Look for daily tasks that require you to allocate more people

Another way to pinpoint a low-hanging fruit in business for you would be to look for tasks that require you to allocate more people during busy times.

If you keep on needing more temporary staff during difficult situations in your business, then you might need to take another look at your systems. It’s likely that you’ll be able to find something that is easy to improve.

If you can digitize some parts of these systems, chances are you’ll be able to cut back on the number of people you have to assign to these tasks. When busy times hit, you won’t have to worry about things like huge amounts of data to manually key in.

3. Pinpoint processes that annoy customers, suppliers, or staff

There are also several common processes that aren’t always particularly smooth sailing for stakeholders. Customers may be annoyed by the invoicing process, while suppliers will not be happy about long payment processing times. 

Another group of stakeholders you’ll want to consider is your employees. When expenses-related processes such as reporting and reimbursement claims are complicated and tedious, for example, they might be demotivated to stay on top of everything.

Processes like these are often a starting point to finding a low-hanging fruit in business. Digitizing some manual touchpoints could lead to great improvements in efficiency and make stakeholders happier.

4. Find the right systems to tackle these issues

Once you have a list of processes that have visible and easily identifiable issues, finding ways to improve them will be easier too. Look at existing modern solutions on the market that can digitize common finance processes.

As an example, an expense management platform can tackle your expense reporting and reimbursement process problems. Out of the many solutions available on the market, you’ll likely find a few that suit your business and meet your needs.

As these solutions are considered low-hanging fruits, you luckily also have some flexibility. Making some compromises when picking an app or software will still net you a great number of benefits.

Typical areas of finance that can be digitized

Expense management

A low-hanging fruit in business finance processes that can easily be digitized is expense management. Not only can you get a fully working and integrated system in a short period of time, but the entire process of digitizing your expense management is also highly visible.

The improvements can be felt by many in your organization almost immediately. Even executives will be able to highlight which aspects of your finance processes have been improved with expense management automation and digitization. 

While digitizing your entire expense management process can feel like a big and daunting task to do, many automation software actually will help you consolidate your expenses and streamline your processes.

In just 100 days, you should be able to set up a fully functional automated expense management system that suits your business. In comparison to doing manual administrative work related to your expenses, this particular low-hanging fruit in business can cut back on the time spent on repetitive data entry.

You’ll also be able to minimize errors, thus reducing the effort of having to identify them. This way, your finance team can redirect their attention to other processes and increase their efficiency.

Project/business budgeting

While budgeting is a process important to any business, it can be difficult to do. The bigger your business and the more projects you undertake, the more complex budgeting gets. At some point, Excel spreadsheets simply won’t cut it anymore. 

Not only does manual data entry take too much time and is error-prone, but you’ll also have many budgets to do, which can make keeping track of all your Excel spreadsheets difficult. With all these problems highly visible sooner or later, it’s best to nip these issues in the bud.

Luckily, a budgeting solution project is considered a low-hanging fruit in business. There are platforms that can help you automate your budgeting processes and save you plenty of time. Handling budgets for multiple projects don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming as soon as you have a digitized solution in place.

Management reporting

Any good business knows the importance of reporting regularly. However, you don’t want to be spending too much time getting on top of reports while neglecting other processes. Good reports only are as effective as they are if paired with processes that work well. 

Being able to get accurate reports in a timely manner will have a positive impact on your business. It’ll be easier to pinpoint what issues you’re facing and what fields you need to improve on the most. A low-hanging fruit in business that you can quickly reap the benefits of is digitizing your management reporting processes. 

When your business operates in different currencies or has multiple entities, a good reporting app can make a huge difference. Not only will collecting information be a quicker and easier process, but you can also generate better reports in less time.

Invoicing customers

One process that may be overlooked until they get too complex to handle is invoicing. Oftentimes, companies will have most of their finance processes taken care of and functioning well, except the invoicing process.

While manually invoicing all your customers can be a hassle, especially with complex requirements such as project time tracking, you can utilize an invoicing app to streamline this process. Invoicing is considered a finance area that is a low-hanging fruit in business because it’s a highly visible area that is also easily fixable if you digitize the process.

You can also link invoicing software with your CRM systems to automate your processes better. Not only will you save time, but you can also reduce the manpower you may need for manually filling out your invoice data.

Human resource systems

Human resource systems are relatively easy to improve. Having a modern HR system will help you ensure that you are in compliance with all local laws and regulations related to employing your staff. You can also streamline and speed up your payroll processes to guarantee that all salary payments are made on time. 

By neglecting to have a fully working HR system, you run into the risk of falling behind with your HR-related processes. This could damage staff morale and motivation or even lead to accidental violations of the law.

As the low-hanging fruit principle is all about systems that are easy to implement but has big payoffs, improving your HR system fits the bill. Not only will your HR staff enjoy a lighter workload, but modern HR systems can also improve the work environment for all your employees.

Payment processing

There are many benefits that you can get from streamlining your payment processing. Ensuring that your customers are paying you in a timely manner will lead you fewer cash flow issues. Similarly, paying all your suppliers before the agreed-upon due date will help you avoid late fees.

Implementing a digitized system to manage payments is a low-hanging fruit in business as the gains will be immediately obvious to your business. Avoid cash flow issues, enjoy a smooth sailing payment process, and manage all your payment-related information.

By connecting your payment processing system with the BACS system, you can also take advantage of cheaper transaction fees. 

Project management

A new and modernized project management system is another low-hanging fruit in business. While not directly considered a finance system, how well you manage your projects can have a direct impact on your finances and the processes surrounding it.

Using a project management platform to automate otherwise manual work can also multiply the impact when you digitize other low-hanging fruits in finance. 

Streamline expense management process with Volopay for finance teams

You want to find a low-hanging fruit in business to kickstart endeavors in improving your finance functions. Highly visible problems that can be fixed with apps or software that don’t take too long to implement are good starting points.

You’ll be able to enjoy many immediate improvements to your business without having to undertake complex and challenging projects. One low-hanging fruit in business that will reap many benefits from digitizing is expense management.

You can have a new and improved fully functional automated system in place in just a few months should you choose to use a modern expense management solution to help your finance team. Volopay enables you to streamline your expense management process and automate all tedious manual administrative tasks.

You can spend less time on processes such as expense reporting and settling reimbursements while also gaining better visibility on all your expenses. Minimize issues related to expense management by implementing Volopay’s solution to your business.

Digitize and automate your expense management processes with Volopay