Making the Business Case for Finance Process Automation
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
By: Siddharth Wadehra, QuickReach Head of Research
Every department in your organization works towards an identified target with the overall objective of contributing to the fulfillment of the mission and vision that the entity exists for. For example, the Innovation department looks at launching new products and the marketing teams are focused on creating brand awareness through various channels. The finance department is tasked with ensuring the tractions in the company are recorded accurately and in compliance with the rules. Understandably, the work in each of these departments is performed with the help of processes- typically a sequence of tasks repeated over and over again.
So, what are finance processes? Let’s take as an example a common finance business process for better understanding. Travel reimbursement entails collecting details about expenses, getting approval from their managers, and then processing the requisite reimbursement within a specified timeline. Please note the set of common steps that are repeated in the process over and over again for each time an employee makes a request. Other finance processes that are very common include approvals on department budgets, vendor purchase orders, cheque requests, employee timesheets, getting approvals for capital expenditures among many others.
However, the traditional human-intensive approach of managing finance processes isn’t working anymore. Companies still manually handling these processes have someone in the finance department who is responsible for collecting data, entering it into an Excel or specified tool, sending out approval emails, and keeping the request initiator updated on the status of his request. Cases of miscommunication are common and so are instances of employees entering the same data into multiple systems that often do not communicate with each other. Understandably, manual errors are rampant, misfiled reports are often the discussion in team meetings, and month-end calculations often never tally or seem to make sense because someone made a basic mistake on the expense spreadsheet.
Enter finance process automation. By eliminating repetitive error-prone tasks usually performed by humans using systems and machines, companies these days are looking to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Finance process automation involves the use of software applications to automate key tasks like accounts reconciliation, journal entries and preparing financial statements with almost no human intervention. Not only does it enable the finance department to streamline processes to ensure everything runs smoothly, but it also frees up department executives allowing them to make key strategic decisions that would require business experience and decision-making skills. A recent Capgemini report has clearly elucidated the potential for finance process automation. The report suggests that as early as 2020, the financial sector could add $512 billion to global revenues and could see a 10-25% increase in cost savings.
Some of the key benefits of financial process automation include the following:
1. Cost reduction
One of the biggest benefits which companies are realizing the benefits of finance process automation in terms of significant cost reduction. The headcount in finance departments has reduced significantly and employees could now be reskilled and assigned more meaningful tasks.
2. Improved efficiency
Less manual errors, better-streamlined business processes, and faster turnaround time are all key aspects of how finance process automation has improved efficiency in organizations. Systems talk to each other and automation provides an integrated solution set which boosts efficiency.
3. Data integrity
Finance has always been a complex machinery. Their job is made even more difficult by ad-hoc supplier requests, changing policies, vendor management, and manual errors. With automation in place, the finance teams could be confident with numbers being accurate.
4. Cross-functional insights
Automation can help by providing the management a 360-degree view of the health of the company which leads to effective decision making. By automating finance processes and systems and integrating these with systems and processes in other areas of the organization – i.e. supply chain, marketing, sales, human resources – executives across the organization are able to share consistent, more accurate data sets.
QuickReach brings intelligent process automation to finance
There are many studies that point out the importance of automation in finance processes. The EY study ‘Is the future of finance new technology or new people?’ suggests that 65% of surveyed respondents believe that automating finance processes would be a significant priority in the future. Intelligent process automation solutions like QuickReach allows you to use pre-defined ready-to-use templates which would allow you to roll out your first automated finance process in a matter of minutes.
All of the financial processes can be automated using solutions like QuickReach, even those in sales, office admin, HR, and IT. Feel free to try QuickReach by signing up for a free 7-day invite-only access here or get in touch with one of our team members from the Customer Success team here.