While the finance function is evolving towards an ever more strategic role of pilot and guarantor of the good economic health of the company, the teams often remain bogged down in time-consuming manual processes with low added value. Automation solutions can help them collect the data needed for decision-making and refocus on their core business.
In business, the role of the finance team is changing. For its members to meet the performance requirements that really help the business grow, priorities must be established. However, low value-added tasks such as administration and manual data entry are not only daunting and an obstacle to hiring, they are time-consuming to the detriment of more strategic missions such as steering the financial governance of the company.
Digital transformation is therefore emerging as essential to the evolution of the finance function in business, especially in times of staff shortages. With the right tools, speeding up and optimizing processes, reducing the margin of error and the degree of uncertainty, teams can focus on financial strategy.
Faced with hiring shortages in all sectors, companies are wondering how to increase the productivity of their finance teams without overloading them with work. When the finance team spends its time going back and forth between downloading forms, manipulating data, and consolidating information to send to departments, maximizing its productivity remains utopian.
Faced with the risk of recession, companies need all the more precise data to manage their growth, set objectives and know the levers to be used to achieve them. It would be dangerous in such a climate to have only approximate visibility of one’s cash flow and a finance function drowned in processes for validating non-strategic expenses (over which they must however retain control) such as travel expenses, for example .
It is therefore necessary to delegate to automation everything that costs the teams time for an imperfect result and that does not require an acute sense of strategy. However, delegating cannot be improvised, and some best practices can help plan its automation.
How to plan your automation implementation
Beforehand, it is necessary to have devoted time to evaluating the way in which the tasks are carried out in the state. This is a period that can last from a few weeks to two months. It will then be necessary to identify the financial processes which will be to be delegated to the automation and which will be reserved for the team. Typically, the control and validation of non-strategic expenses, the generation of real-time reports on professional expenses and the allocation of budgets per employee fall under automation.
To do this, prepaid cards linked to a centralized platform allow the finance team to keep an eye on the allocation of resources by employees in real time. Being able to monitor expenses in real time, not having to wait until the end of the month is crucial when you consider that on average non-strategic expenses constitute 20% of a company’s total costs and that European companies lose 2% of their turnover in excessive expenses, duplicates, loss of VAT, and of course, in attempts at fraud.
Also, some business models, such as start-ups, are subject to even higher cash flow variability. It is all the more important that the control work is entrusted to automation to minimize the margin of error. It is therefore necessary that the chosen solution is sufficiently granular and able to provide data to be then integrated with the accounting system.
Finally, to assess the impact of an automation strategy, it is advisable to digitize processes that until now were manual. This makes it possible to gauge the effectiveness of what has been implemented, the time saved, the quality of life at work regained for the teams, and ultimately, the money saved.
Reconnect with strategic decision-making
Promoting the evolution of the finance function towards a role of strategic management of the company’s resources does not mean renouncing its control over how they are spent. Rather, it’s about delegating all manual, high-error processes to automation so the team can rely on reliable, real-time data. Only in this way will the financial team be able to reconnect with its core business: decision-making on the company’s strategic financial issues.