With increased pressure to do more with less, almost all business units are now required to work in a more agile way to maximize efficiency – and the same is true of finance.
The CFO and finance department should seek to collaborate with the wider business, to find ways to modernize and digitize tasks and processes wherever possible using knowledge from the people who perform the tasks day-in, day-out.
Finance is a crucial part of any business, but one that relies heavily on a huge number of time-consuming manual tasks that frequently need to be repeated. For manual staff, it’s a never-ending cycle that distracts from higher-value work.
However, the highly-structured, rules-based nature of many of these tasks makes them prime candidates for automation.
Whether that’s recording and reconciling entries and accounts, or fully automated expense reports, embracing technology as a core strategy enables wider benefits within the company. While much of the nitty-gritty of automation takes place on a micro level, the potential benefits can have a macro-level effect.
At the micro level, embracing fast-growing technologies like automation delivers more accurate data and a significant reduction in the time it takes to complete any given finance process. But on a macro level, those benefits lead to faster, more accurate decision-making capabilities within the business as a whole, and therefore afford a competitive edge.
Consider the financial close process. This is often made up of between 50 and 70 separate processes and hundreds of sub-processes, all of which need to be manually managed across different geographies and departments. And all the time while maintaining multiple levels of approvals and controls.
Through the automation of key financial close processes, not only is repetitive human effort removed, but businesses can also move from an annual forecast to a continuous close that provides fresh data, rather than figures that are months – or even years – out of date.
As adoption of automation continues, employees with analytical skill sets and a technical (or forensic) underpinning will undoubtedly be required in finance and beyond. This increase in high-value human activity, therefore, further improves the value proposition of automating back-office processes.
Any heavily rule-based processes – even highly-complex ones that still require human approval or interaction – are now simple to automate with finance automation solutions that provide pre-programmed process components and fast interconnectivity.
Not only does this make for a faster deployment, but it also negates the need for dedicated developer involvement in building robots.
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