What is Finance Automation?
Finance automation refers to the use of technology to complete financial processes without the need, or for little input, from humans performing manual or repetitive processes. With finance automation, your teams can focus on value-adding tasks and remove the need to spend hours of their time on tasks which could otherwise be automated – either through artificial intelligence, or robotic process automation (or both!)
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
With AI, algorithms use historical data to help spot patterns and trends, helping your teams make informed future business decisions. For example, finance teams can use machine learning for scenario testing or making decisions on sales and stock.
Systems like Dynamics 365 Business Central use Microsoft’s intelligent AI to analyse your sales history and data to predict future demand. It helps predict future sales, identifies when you need to order more inventory, and provides insights into expected stockouts. It can even predict late payments for sales documents, so your teams don’t need to perform regular checks.
What is robotic process automation (RPA)?
RPA is the use of bots to mimic human actions to execute tasks from start to finish. They can learn by screen recording a human fulfilling the steps or through special code. RPA requires structured data to work and is best suited for repetitive, relatively low skill, and rule-based tasks.
What Are The Benefits of Finance Automation?
According to Accenture 80% of financial tasks could be automated, freeing up your finance team from tasks which dominate 60-75% of their time. Automating financial processes will vary in benefits for every business, depending on their initial problem areas, but for most the benefits to finance automation include:
Finance automation provides various advantages to organisations that utilise this technology, including:
- Reduced costs: According to a report from Ernst & Young, the addition of robotic process automation can result in cost savings between 20% to 60% of baseline FTE cost.
- Reduced errors: Human error is human nature, the reality is we aren’t robots and we can make mistakes. By automating financial processes which are manual and repetitive you can eliminate human error. AI and RPA also provide the availability of fully maintained logs, which is essential for compliance.
- Create transparency: Financial processes often go through multiple hands before being marked complete. To achieve automation, you’ll need to use a single, intelligent system. When you collate and manage with one tool, it means data is visible at any given moment. In the same way you have a track of data for compliance, it’s also there for key stakeholders for management and analysis.
- Employee satisfaction: Automating financial processes lessens the workload of your finance teams. It gives your employees the opportunity to shift their focus to problem-solving and strategic endeavours, which will likely result in increased employee satisfaction.
- Approvals: With automation, reviews and approvals don’t become a bottleneck in finance processes. You can use rules to ensure that no transactions are completed without proper approvals in place.
4 Steps To Achieving Finance Automation
The main steps to financial process automation include:
- Analyse your financial processes. Whether it’s with software or good old fashioned pen and paper, the first place to start is a review of your current accounting processes. That will give you the best opportunity to identify which areas of your business would most benefit from automation.
- Look at your options. Once you’ve identified which areas would benefit from automating financial processes, you’ll need to identify which system is the best fit for you. It might be tempting to only address your current concerns, but it’s important to future-proof your business too, so looks for something with saleability.
At The HBP Group, we work with a number of the UK’s market-leading accounting systems. We’ll work with you to identify your current problem areas and what you most want out of a system, to match you and your business up with a system that will help accelerate your business processes and help save you time and money. You can do that with our free business process review.
- Implementation and training. When it comes to finance automation, the tech-aspect is half the story. The next chapter is engagement and training. It’s important to engage your teams in the process as much as possible to create buy-in and ensure that they’re clear on how this will impact and improve their roles.
The penultimate step is training. Make sure you choose a software partner who will help you each steps of the way with your implementation, helping you understand and structure your financial process automation and someone who will be there to train and support your staff.
- Test and review. Finally, you’ll want to test and continually review your financial process automation. Ensure that it works for your business and that it is effective in what you set it out for it to achieve and that it is aiding your teams in that was you had hoped.