Across the globe, the chemical industry is a base for many of the consumer products we use on a daily basis – everything from the soaps and sanitisers which have become a household staple, to the fuel in our cars, glass in our windows and even some of the clothes on our back.
Global competition can be fierce and there are multiple challenges to overcome, such as hazard risks, commodity price fluctuations and the capital-intensive of the industrial equipment required.
The global pandemic has left no industry untouched, and chemical companies are facing new challenges such as:
- Reduced workforce productivity or even plant shut-downs
- Supply chain disruptions
- Reduction in downstream industries such as automotive and construction
- Increase in customer demand and awareness of sustainable production
Q: With limited control over these external factors, what can organisations in the chemical industry do to try to maintain business continuity through the uncertain times still to come?
A: Start with the back office processes.
Let’s start with one of the key back office functions – the finance department. In many chemical companies however, these processes are often fragmented, slow and prone to issues. Whether it’s money coming in to Accounts Receivable (AR), or going out via Accounts Payable (AP); transparency, visibility and simplicity are key.
An automation solution can help to achieve these goals across either or both accounts functions, by eliminating manual tasks such as printing and scanning, reducing errors and exception handling, and simplifying archiving and storage.
From an AR perspective, making the move to e-invoicing helps organisations to get that cash in the bank more quickly, reducing DSO and improving the customer experience. By managing credit applications, payments, cash allocation and collections electronically, automation streamlines the O2C process to make life easier for both internal stakeholders and external customers.
On the flipside, AP automation can consolidate processes across disparate ERP systems increasing staff productivity and reducing workflow discontinuity. A digital approval process allows invoices to progress without getting stuck in bottlenecks such as internal mail. Paying suppliers on time helps strengthen those vital business relationships for whatever the future may bring.
As the global economy continues to twist and turn, being easy to do business with is a big competitive differentiator, especially in the chemical industry. By taking simple steps to simplify finance processes for suppliers and customers, organisations can get the right mix of their processes for the volatile times.