The last few years have left finance leaders facing many new challenges, from keeping up with ever-changing regulations and compliance requirements to implementing new technologies within their finance functions.
While navigating the complexities of modern finance departments, CFOs and other senior finance executives face another challenge: Finance is evolving. This new breed of finance operations is ushering in new expectations and responsibilities for not just finance leaders but the entire team.
Driving budgetary strategy, delivering cost savings, and helping to facilitate growth all fall under a finance leader’s purview. Financial professionals argue that finance is at the heart of almost any initiative businesses are planning, and as the owners of the budget, it only makes sense.
However, increasing the chances of success isn’t all about number crunching and resource allocation. It’s now about partnering with other business functions to collaborate with, share insights on, and manage projects.
New Role, Old Rules
It’s important to note that these additional responsibilities haven’t absolved finance teams of their core function. Preparing balance sheets, processing invoices, providing financial reports, and protecting critical assets rest squarely on the team’s shoulders. It’s just that the function has gotten a bit more complex, which has brought operational inefficiencies to the forefront. As a result, finance leaders are finding it hard to strike a balance between succeeding in their new strategic role and still keeping up with their old responsibilities.
This shifting role requires the support of technology. Finance automation can completely transform a company’s finance function by automating and streamlining manual processes. This helps relieve finance teams of the more mundane, repetitive tasks and complicated workflows that are prone to human error. It also gives finance professionals the room and resources to focus on more value-add activities and solve operational problems often critical to business growth and success.
Automation’s True Power
Finance automation’s true power is in its ability to alleviate your team’s workload from manual processes and provide a higher level of accuracy to expense management, financial planning, analysis, tax compliance, and close processes, among other finance responsibilities. By fully optimizing your finance function, your team can focus more on value-add initiatives and business growth strategies.
More importantly, automation in the finance function can provide much-needed support through all stages of a business’s lifecycle. From pre-seed to series E and beyond, the right digital solution can help unlock insights from financial data and increase transparency and visibility across the entire organization. All the information is secured in a centralized platform, providing access to whoever’s authorized to review financial materials.
This kind of improved visibility has a way of establishing greater accountability and control.
A Clearer Picture Into Corporate Spend
As a business grows, spend management can spread out to an increasing number of people throughout an organization, making it difficult to determine precisely how funds are spent within the company. However, automation gives finance leaders a real-time understanding of where money is moving and whether it’s being used strategically. It also allows for spend analysis so business leaders can identify areas that could benefit from cost optimization.
Consolidating vendors might be in order, or it may be time to renegotiate better payment terms. Maybe the team has been erroneously making double payments, racking up unnecessary fees, or getting regularly overcharged for some service. Whatever the case, finance automation allows you to leverage data better and uncover areas needing improvement.
As you probably know, finance leaders have moved well beyond traditional roles and become valued contributors, in part to technology and automation providing opportunities to enhance the role. They’ve become “financial strategists,” tasked with the responsibility of not only tracking financial transactions, but also devising strategic plans to ensure the financial health and success of the business. Uncertainty has become the norm in business, and it’s best to be prepared.
Finance automation can help finance leaders analyze vast amounts of financial data and make well-informed decisions. And the insights gathered from analytics can improve the decision-making process around any future plans for operations. You’re not looking at weeks or months of comparing trends. Automation tools can do it in a matter of minutes, offering a closer look across the entirety of operations and allowing for quick yet informed decisions about growth opportunities, potential new business models, and more.
Greater Efficiency Realized
Automation is more than a trendy buzzword. If implemented correctly and used strategically, automation can improve productivity and efficiency across your finance function. Everything from data entry and invoicing to bookkeeping and issuing checks can be done via automation.
Automation allows finance team members to use their knowledge and experience in ways not possible before. Teams become much more efficient with their time and use of resources, leading to productivity gains that can improve the bottom line—and not only within the finance function, but also companywide. It’s all about finding and investing in the right automation solution for the business and then understanding where that automation fits in.
Investing in automation for automation’s sake won’t do as much for a business as when finance technology is used for specific purposes. Only then will finance leaders experience the improved visibility, decision-making capabilities, and overall efficiency they hoped for.
Alex Cedro is the Senior Finance Executive at Tipalti, a payment automation software that helps businesses manage their entire supplier payments operations by streamlining all phases of the AP and payment management workflow in one holistic cloud platform.