Going Green while Growing Green
April marks the season when executives kick off company-wide “green” initiatives, just in time for Earth Day. Some encourage their employees to use reusable water bottles; others hang signs near sinks and water fountains reminding people to conserve water. While these activities may be well intended, they are often short lived and have very little impact on a business’s overall carbon footprint.
What many executives fail to recognise are the significant fiscal benefits associated with strategic environmentally-friendly business processes. Here are some easy ways cloud-based tools can help your company go green while also growing your green year round:
Pay without paper
Despite some business’s recent migration to a more digital workplace, paper consumption has risen by 400 percent in the last 40 years, worldwide. From checks to receipts, AP and AR departments can use reams of paper without even realising. By implementing an electronic payment system, organisations can eliminate the burden of paper checks and cash in B2B financial transactions.
In the U.S, companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which outdate themselves within three months’ time. Switching to paperless, electronic payments frees up a significant chunk of your departments’ budget while also allowing for quicker transactions and organised, centralised payment data.
Organise with e-invoicing
American businesses process hundreds of thousands of invoices per day. All that paper adds up. Paper in the U.S. represents one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills – 26 million tons. By reducing the amount of paper you use through e-invoicing alone, you can reduce your company’s negative impact on the environment and reduce your carbon footprint.
The hundreds of thousands of paper invoices sent daily not only drain the globe’s resources, but can drain a company’s resources as well. Paper invoices are cumbersome, expensive and incredibly time consuming to handle. This puts an unnecessary drain on an organisation’s finances. Switching to e-invoicing cuts invoice processing time, ensures data accuracy by removing manual errors and eliminates the possibility of lost or misplaced paper invoices.
Automate, automate, automate
45 percent of the paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day. This lifespan accounts for over a trillion sheets of paper per year, worldwide. Automation and cloud-based systems allow data to be updated frequently and viewed in real-time, which otherwise would have required dozens of copy edits.
Employee inefficiency can quietly cost a business thousands of dollars a quarter. For example, a typical employee spends 30-40 percent of his time looking for information lost in email and filing cabinets. Automating AP and AR functions with cloud-based solutions organises, streamlines and speeds up approval processes and allows employees to spend their valuable time on projects that help the company grow.
Automation also helps foster greater client and supplier loyalty. With an automated, cloud-based system, your AP and AR departments can quickly resolve discrepancies between POs and invoices and regain control over purchases and payables. This saves your organisation time, money and valuable business relationships.
Migrating business functions to the cloud protects both your company’s and the planet’s resources on Earth Day and beyond. Save time, save money, save paper and help your company reduce its carbon footprint.
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector