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Automation: The Transformation Accelerator

Preface

Modern accountants have come up with more ways to accelerate financial transformation using technology disruption. With the rise of the digital era, accounting professionals are no more just bookkeepers. Today, their work goes beyond traditional transactional procedures of accounting, financial reporting, and budgeting. They presently hold a better and significant position in an organization.

Currently, all kinds of businesses demand urgent transformation to switch from hand-operated back-office tasks to fully automated approaches in their accounting and finance departments as accounting professionals play a vital role in their organizations. They are business associates who trigger a higher-quality approach and more trustworthy corporate decisions.

Transformation Is Crucial

Although stepping out of a system that accountants have been working with for so long is not an easy project, but to have a positive impact on outputs and to have a better ROI, the change has to be embraced. From a small scale business to a large enterprise, the financial transformation is the need of every organization today. The modern business system is engrossed with more robotics-driven processes and regulations than earlier systems. This change is undoubtedly imperative but it also requires a high-level commitment of having expertise and resources from the industry accepting it. This may be a reason why many industries are still in doubt of accepting and adopting this digital transformation.

They have ample questions running up in their mind like-

  1. Is automation meant for small businesses too?
  2. Is financial transformation within the reach of smaller organizations with limited resources?
  3. How to cope up with the change?
  4. How to team up to speed with the transformation?
  5. How to tackle rapid growth and change in the fast technology-driven era?

So, to their knowledge, the first thing that should be deciphered is- 

“YES! AUTOMATION IS FOR EVERY ENTERPRISE (INCLUDING YOURS) AND CAN BE DEPLOYED EASILY IN A PHASED APPROACH.

The only thing that should be considered is not to deploy it with half-knowledge. You should have a complete understanding before you make a transformational move.  

Another thing that is demanding financial transformation from every industry is the expectations from accounting professionals and finance teams with the passing years to do more than just spending time on transactional activities that are consuming their valuable time.

According to Gartner “60% of organizations will digitize their accounting processes by deploying cloud-based applications in the next 4 years”.

Finance & accounting organizations are taking it as a positive sign for their organization’s success. Automated cloud-based software will allow them to be attentive and in-action for various tasks they should handle. This new implementation methodology will allow visionary teams to perform efficiently with accurate, automated, and faster closer than ever before.

Being An Intelligent Enterprise

In the transformational journey so far, software companies have been supporting their clientele to create value for their companies using their automated accounting software that helps solve their various problems. Now, as disruption in technologies (such as AI- artificial intelligence, ML-machine learning, IoT-the Internet of Things, blockchain, and advanced analytics) become mainstream, organizations have the opportunity to facilitate the workforce to converge on higher-value upshots.

In simple words, organizations can emerge to become intelligent enterprises with innovative capabilities that strengthen their business yearnings. Smart and intelligent enterprises with automation are much more sophisticated than before and can provide more profound penetrations based on a bigger variety of data sources, such as text, imagery, and videos. Besides, this automation can be applied far more cost-effectively as new tools make rising technologies more consumable by embedding AI within existing business processes.

Make A Swift Shift

It’s high time for the small businesses to make a swift shift from a manually operated firm with loads of paper documentation in drawers to a new, transformed smart firm. Here is the list of things you should start with and their benefits you will get:-

  1. Digitize your workflow to:
  • Enhance your control over the processes
  • Speed up your processes
  • Diminish risk possibilities over your company’s processes
  • Get real-time insights and reports to have a profitable close
  1. Automate Reconciliation to
  • Improve financial integrity
  • Streamline Reconciliation process
  • Get fast, digitized approvals

“A recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) report- The CFO mission to uncover the unknown – Applying analytics and cognitive computing for efficiency and insights, indicates that 80 percent of finance teams expect to use analytics to drive performance, manage risk and compliance, and optimize processes within two years. About half of the organizations surveyed also plan to implement cognitive computing within the next two years”.

Finance companies, during transformation, should simultaneously balance a wide range of purposes as they don’t have the opportunity of pressing “pause” on the multitude of crucial activities they seek daily, weekly, and monthly. This can be a sheer challenge, and still many of the world’s best-run FinTech firms make it work every day.  

According to IBM “As CFOs increasingly embrace cognitive technologies, IBM continues to pioneer solutions to help them bridge the gap between new opportunities and current capabilities. IBM can deliver deep technology skills, experience and tools, teaming with CFOs to reinvent end processes through automation, analytics and cognitive intelligence”.

A Step Towards The Start

Although the initiative towards the financial transformation may vary according to the type of industrial sector, company, and business, certain challenges are common across all change initiatives and need to be planned before the start. For finance experts to generate early successes and develop momentum by deploying technology, they should aim the following challenges:-

  • Manual transactional processing
  • Multiple sources of data
  • Conflicting legal and administration reporting
  • Insufficient reporting
  • Aging systems

Finance Transformation Accelerator can help in overcoming these challenges by getting the house in order before unforeseen challenges come thumping.

The innovative shift from older models to a new business model called Financial transformation will decrease manual efforts in repetitive tasks, boost the efficiency of traditional activities, and reduce the total cost of ownership.

They comprise the following:

  • Smart and intelligent process automation, digitization and robotics.
  • Cloud-based applications and systems and automated business systems that provide easy and anytime virtual and remote access from any device, and keep your data secure lifelong.
  • Enables accountant and finance experts to perform higher-level duties such as the chief analytics officer rather than just being accountants and financiers of the company.
  • Advanced, automated and ominous analytics and report generation.
  • Improves outcomes and insight from the (IoT)Internet of Things sensor remitting data fed into cognitive computing engine.
  • Reduction or exclusion of exception-handling through virtual assistants.
  • Industry-specific solutions to boost enterprise outcomes in the spheres of risk, working capital, profits, investment judgments, support, and compliance.
  • Secure and encrypted transactions and entries empowered by blockchain, which offers notable potential to decrease expense and drive competence.

Leveraging Transformation Accelerator

Cloud-based applications and software are expected to spread all across the accounting and finance industries by the end of 2020. CFOs need technology/intelligent software that can automate:-

  • processes at ease of access with enhanced features,
  • real-time capacities installed across mobiles and analytics,
  • solutions that can provide greater flexibility,
  • improve the overall efficiency of the business, and
  • can leverage out-of-the-box potentials.

Businesses too are looking for ways to empower finance units with exceptional efficiency and strategic advantage to connect with all facets of the company.

Nominate The Best Option- Cloud-based Systems

Shifting to a cloud platform is the best way to embrace and accelerate the financial transformation path for your business since it renders innovative ways to leverage analytics, mobile, and digital services. It helps to integrate all processes smoothly.

Access on-the-go cloud platforms are flexible enough to allow users to access their data anytime, anywhere from any device such as mobiles, tablets, etc. Such timely and up-to-date access ensures employees to make real-time decisions based on accurate and latest reports.

Software companies have been helping businesses and accounting finance industry at a great level. They have been proving themselves to be the real accelerators of this transformation. Since accepting and deploying automation is not just the last step to skyrocket your business, you should know how to leverage this digital disruption in the best way to drive your business towards your aim. The 4 fundamental steps to transform your finance business are:-

Step #1: Clarity about the process

Even the best technology can prove to be a failure or may not deliver enough ROI if it is deployed with a lack of resources and processes. It is incorrect to implement new solutions without having a clear perspective about your aims and goals you want to achieve with this change. Your strategy to deploy and implement the automation, your efforts to make your workforce eligible for the move, and clarity on how this initiative will contribute to your decision for the transition. Don’t start implementing new solutions before you have a clear, shared understanding of how processes will contribute to your goals. These transformation accelerators help accomplish key financial processes such as Procure to Pay, Order to Cash, and Closing.

Step #2: Trust the system

F&A strategies and procedures are developed for safety purposes. Following rules would certainly be a plus point for you. Automated accounting software and systems include built-in procedures that can intensify the communications process. Make sure to have clear communication about following the rules.

Step #3: Get your data under control

Data quality challenges should be overcome before you initiate the move. As a finance expert or a business master, you have to deal with quantitative data which should be qualitative also if you aim to accelerate the transformation towards the change.

Step #4: Transparency of processes

Effective solutions comprise of world-class automation with overall transparency within processes like balanced entries and tracing the source of transactions for having access to the information you need.

Escalate Along With The Growth

Automation will eventually lead to growth and when progress seems visible, in any terms, you should scale up with it. Organizations should blaze a trail and tap into more areas to hit the subsequent milestones on their transformation drive. The 3 areas to analyze as your company thrives are as follows:-

  1. Strengthen integrity and performance across and near the close, keeping in mind about auto-reconciling credit cards, accounts receivable, accounts payable, fixed assets, payroll, and more.
  2. Mind the gaps of risks and efforts to update journal entries with digitization to create, approve, review, and post transactions to your ERP, followed by the processes of verifying and storing them with related documentation.
  3. Accounting zeal for meaningful growth breakthroughs, like automating governance, compliance, and risk.

This is what Deloitte says about the financial transformation “Finance transformation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can have a significant positive impact on business results. But it can also require a considerable commitment of key talent and resources for an extended period. That’s why no organization takes finance transformation initiatives lightly. It’s important to get them right.

Transformation- A Team Work

Embracing automation and having the zeal for transformation requires teamwork. So once tasks and duties are defined, you should ensure your team operates like one. Some key areas to be considered are as follows:-

  1. Create a vision to scale up with the growth
    Work with your supporters to decide a clear vision about the accounting and finance business, such as the aims for the business by the year 2020 or 2022. These may include:
  • Pulling competence from automation in key accounting domains such as financial reporting and reconciliations.
  • Devoting more time to trade partnering.
  • Building a greater competency in analytics and strategic planning.

Identify and mind the gaps between your current and later states and try to build a milestone-based roadmap.

  1. Empower Experts
    Accounting and finance experts can help you expand the company’s conception by creating collaborative, cross-functional teams. These team members can observe the procedures that are ready for reinvention.

“We revisited our policies and processes and knew that small changes weren’t going to deliver the productivity improvements we needed.”

  • Pat Withrow, Accounting Director, The Dow Chemical Company.
  1. Gauge Your success
    As you walk through the transformation accepting the new change, be prepared to leverage the automation that can incentivize and enable your team’s talent to accept and adopt new fast-paced workflow, such as transitioning traditional model-based Excel reconciliations to the cloud.  Scorekeepers should keep measuring growth using quantifiable metrics to assess success periodically with feedback to the team on the adoption of automation and its apparent results.
  2. Incentivize Transformation & Empower Crown
    Finance transformation and change management move hand in hand. To ensure the maximum return on investment from the latest technology and innovation, you should define, enable, communicate, and measure the change. Organizations who gamble for not adopting new transformation and compromise on old procedures are getting only a small percentage of their value. Finance transformation expects:-
  • The right solutions from Accounting and Finance teams to propel change from within
  • Devices to ensure constant activities and measurement
  • Commitment to adopt transformation from accounting and finance teams
  • To have a clear vision and roadmap
  • To define roles and responsibilities
  • To invest in constant development
  1. Overcome Key Obstacles
    Try to find common obstacles and the obvious and reliable solution for it. Relying on tools that F&A teams can’t hold and manage themselves is one of the many common issues that a  poorly-defined vision lacks.

CFOs- Drivers Of The Transformation

CFOs can show leadership skills in building modern finance principles. With an automated finance platform, they can expeditiously reshape, organize, and strengthen finance and regulating processes with no influence on other business processes. This way, they can exemplify internally how easy it is today to invest in the latest technologies such as Automation, AI, RPA,  etc. Thus, CFOs have a considerable opportunity to transform their position and become a stronger ally with their peers to forge long-term business. They can easily execute their daily transaction-focused activities with a higher competency and can also counsel other departments’ decision-making strategies by:-

  • Having a powerful influence beyond the finance function
  • Initiating and steering strategic growth decisions
  • Improving efficiency using automation
  • Being effective at bottom-line finance processes
  • Collaborating perennially with other departments across the entire organization
  • Working closely with the relative team and handling regulatory change.

With a transformed and integrated finance platform, the CFO can:

  • Boost the accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness of finance and other processes as well.
  • Accelerate finance processes innovation
  • Reshape the internal/external resource balance
  • Reduce organizational and technical impacts curbing from M&A
  • Enable the organization to take the initial step towards the intelligent enterprise era.
  • Transform and upgrade his/her role in the company by taking charge of the transformation decision, and helping peers in the transformation plan.

Conclusion

The finance transformation is about eliminating, simplifying, standardizing, automating and consolidating overall processes within an organization. However, these concepts should be examined thoroughly to discover how they can move the business forward in today’s digital era.

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