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Save Money, Save the Planet: How to Implement Environmentally Friendly Business Processes

By Matt Clark

Corporate Earth Day initiatives can come across as hokey and forced. Some companies encourage their employees to use reusable water bottles; others ditch their Keurig machines for a more environmentally friendly alternative. While these activities may be well intended, they often have a short shelf life. They are rarely adopted in full by the organization and have very little impact on the overall carbon footprint of a business.

So, how can businesses make sustainable changes towards become more sustainable?

Follow the money. What many executives fail to recognize are the fiscal benefits associated with many strategic business processes that happen to be environmentally friendly as well. Here are three eco-compatible digital processes to help businesses become (and stay) lean and green:

Procurement

Procurement is an inherently difficult process that makes prioritizing green initiatives challenging. From a tumultuous international procurement market to shipping logistics to packaging and beyond, business-to-business procurement is especially harsh on the environment. To begin solving some of these issues, start with sourcing from green vendors.

The inability to track supplier sources and green practices can put both the company and its buyers at risk. Digital procurement networks give executives the assurance that their monies are going towards sustainable products, sourced ethically. This will also give them a competitive edge in the market, as businesses and consumers alike look to purchase more from environmentally friendly businesses.

e-Invoicing

An estimated 500 billion invoices are sent globally each year. One tree makes about 9,000 pieces of paper. The billions of paper invoices sent from business to business around the world annually contribute to environmental issues and take a toll on companies’ bottom lines by increasing inefficiencies and costs across the board. By forgoing paper invoices and implementing more “green” practices, businesses not only lessen their environmental impact, they can better manage cash flow and spend.

Businesses may also benefit from smarter payment strategies and stronger relations with trading partners. Switching to e-invoicing cuts invoice processing time, ensures data accuracy by removing opportunity for manual errors, and eliminates the possibility of lost or misplaced paper invoices, which can be detrimental to network relationships and profitability.

Payment

Despite some recent migration to more digital workplaces, executives are still dragging their feet when it comes to e-payments. According to the 2016 Electronic Payments Survey, corporate use of the paper check actually rose in 2016 and has now returned as the most common form of payment, used by 51 percent of survey respondents. By implementing an electronic payment system, organizations can eliminate the burden of paper checks and cash in their B2B financial transactions. Switching to paperless, electronic payments frees up a significant portion of departmental budgets while also allowing for quicker transactions and organized, centralized payment data. And when e-payments are included as part of a single streamlined process—from procurement to e-invoicing to payments—it creates visibility to cash flow and customer data, as well as harmony across the enterprise.

Going green is great for the environment, but it’s even more satisfying when it helps the bottom line as well. Migrating business functions to environmentally friendly, cloud-based systems protects both a company’s and the planet’s resources on Earth Day and beyond.

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