business team in a conference room with a presentation
Accounts Payable Automation, End-to-End AP Automation
June 6, 2023

Ease Labor Shortages With Accounts Payable Technology

by The Ottimate Editorial Team

Technology has advanced society numerous times over the years. Discover how it can ease labor shortages in industries such as hospitality, restaurants, grocery, retail, pharmacy, and construction.

Workforce Labor in the News

“Nearly two million hospitality and leisure jobs remain unfilled in what economists call a ‘deep, profound’ shift in the labor market.” — Washington Post

“85% of its members said they were ‘somewhat or severely understaffed.’” — American Hotel and Lodging Association

“Two-thirds of community pharmacies are also dealing with a labor shortage and struggling to fill open positions.” — Forbes

“Construction Workforce Shortage Tops Half a Million in 2023” — Associated Builders and Contractors

“In the retail industry, there are currently 5.5 million more job openings than there are workers to fill them.” — Integrated Cash Logistics

“Eighty-seven percent of retail leaders are worried about talent shortages in 2023… And almost all employees (94%) are concerned about the consequences labor shortages will have on their roles.” — Fourth

And one more in the news: “70% of routine tasks will be partially or fully automated by 2025…. Automation is imminent…. embrace it to streamline processes and reduce costs.” — Connected Retail Experience

The Issue

With labor shortages becoming increasingly prevalent in industries such as hospitality, restaurants, grocery, pharmacy, retail, and construction, many businesses are turning to technology to streamline operations and boost efficiency. From automated ordering systems to robotic assistants to automated accounts payable — technology is revolutionizing the way work is done in these industries. 

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the ways technology is being used to ease the labor shortage and enhance productivity.

Empty restaurant amidst labor shortages.

Automation in Hospitality, Restaurants, & QSRs

  • Automated ordering systems and self-checkout kiosks are being implemented in restaurants to reduce the need for manual labor and allow previously customer-facing employees to be deployed in other areas. 
  • Drivethru AI Chatbots that recognize customer requests are being deployed.
  • Chatbots and AI-powered customer service assistants are helping hospitality businesses improve customer experiences and reduce staff workload.
  • Fully automated makelines that entertain and serve customers.
  • Automated end-to-end AP solutions reduce the amount of time spent on data entry, minimize the risks of inaccuracy, and free up time for more important tasks.

Matt Lau, Finance and Operations at IRMG, implemented Ottimate across IRMG locations and corporate headquarters. He was hoping to streamline manual workflows and reduce overhead. Matt estimates conservatively that IRMG is processing over 2,000 invoices a month through Ottimate.

“I can’t quantify the time savings, but Ottimate transformed everything,” said Matt.

Individual looking over the impact of labor shortages

Robotics in Grocery, Pharmacy, and Retail

  • Autonomous robots are used to check for hazards, automate tasks such as monitoring & restocking shelves, and clean floors in grocery stores and retail outlets.
  • Drones, robotics, and sidewalk delivery systems are becoming more common and accepted, reducing the load for delivery staff.
  • Omnichannel/centralized order processing, customer service, and order fulfillment will reduce the need for local staff at every location.

“[Ottimate] has freed up a lot of time with the team who was actually doing the processing, now they can take on more work and do other things. Our time is being freed up by not having to do so many things manually.”

Sarah Zuehlke, Lead Accountant, WHG Companies

Construction worker on site with sunset.

Technology in Construction

  • 3D printing is being used to construct buildings and other structures with minimal human intervention.
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) helps efficient planning, coordination, and visualization of construction processes, reducing errors, and rework. 
  • Automating repetitive and labor-intensive tasks, such as bricklaying, concrete pouring, and assembly of prefabricated components, reduces the need for manpower.
  • Automated end-to-end AP solutions minimize the hours spent on data entry, lower the risks of inaccuracy, and free up time for more important tasks.

“Ottimate VendorPay is just so much easier than checks. It’s just click, Save, and you’re done. You can link an invoice to its payment so they go out together. It’s probably halved the time we spend on payments.”

Katie West, Client Accounting Services Manager, MCM

Whether or not your company can see an ROI, on new technology and automation, depends on how much you’ll use it, the number of man-hours saved in utilizing the technology, the cost of those man-hours, and how difficult it is to hire/keep the positions that technology is filling.

ROI and Technology

While each type of industry has different needs, we can look at end-to-end automated accounts payable as a way to view your potential ROI for technology.

The average time it takes a company to manually process a single invoice is around 11 days, with some companies taking as long as 25 days or more. This can result in delayed payments, missed discounts, and strained vendor relationships.

Automating accounts payable processes can significantly reduce the time and resources required for manual processing. Best-in-class automated solutions can streamline invoice receipt and processing, enable advanced electronic approval routing, and facilitate faster online payment processing. As a result, the time it takes to process accounts payable can be reduced to just a few days, freeing up staff for other needs or even reducing the need for as many staff members.

“We thought that every four to five locations we would have had to hire a new employee just for data entry level. With Ottimate, we’re at the point where we don’t feel like we even need to backfill that first position.” Gary Rook, VP of Finance & Human Resources, Tatsu-Ya

“We thought that every four to five locations we would have had to hire a new employee just for data entry level. With Ottimate, we’re at the point where we don’t feel like we even need to backfill that first position.”

Gary Rook, VP of Finance & Human Resources, Tatsu-Ya

Business woman setting at desktop computer reviewing invoices using Ottimate.

Technology for Your Organization

Technology is transforming the way work is done in many industries, and the labor shortage is only accelerating this trend. By embracing automation, robotics, and other cutting-edge technologies, businesses in hospitality, restaurants, grocery, retail, and construction can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and stay competitive in the face of labor shortages. Curious to learn more? Book a demo with Ottimate.

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