Financial Process Automation: In Depth Guide for CFOs

Automation Solutions

Advances in technology are driving forward immense positive change within organisations, especially within the financial services sector. Financial process automation is delivering operational efficiency, enhanced compliance, and more streamlined workflows, among other benefits.

Here, we will take a deep dive into everything you should know about RPA tools and creating your very own automated finance system.

Coming Up

1. What is Finance Automation?

2. What Processes Should Be Automated in Finance?

3. What are the Benefits of Finance Automation?

4. How to Automate Financial Processes?

5. Why Are Existing Financial Processes Not Working?

6. Why is Automation of Processes in Finance Important?

7. What Technologies are Used in Finance Automation?

8. What are the Challenges of Finance Automation?

9. Wrap Up

What is Finance Automation?

Finance automation refers to the use of technology to execute financial processes and operations. Depending on your software solution of choice, it could incorporate robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, or even a combination of the two in intelligent automation.

By using software, your human resources can better allocate their time and energy to high-level and strategic tasks, rather than having to spend countless hours conducting repetitive tasks like data entry or reconciliations.

An advanced finance automation solution such as SolveXia gives you a human analytical automation tool. This enables you to execute financial processes automatically, safely store centralised data, and achieve governance by design.

What Processes Should Be Automated in Finance?

When it comes to automation in finance, there are so many use cases because so many of the processes rely on the same factors: timeliness, accuracy, repetition, and seamless workflows.

Let’s take a look at some examples of financial processes that align perfectly for automation solutions.

Accounts Payable

Before your finance team can pay any invoices, they must be cross-checked for accuracy with purchasing orders. Furthermore, the process often requires approval before a check is cut or wire is sent.

Automation software can swiftly spot anomalies between what the accounts payable says is owed versus invoices. It can also streamline the approval of payment so that you never are overdue.

Accounts Receivable

With automation, your team can replace all manual accounts receivable processes so that invoices are uploaded quickly and human error is prevented. From credit management to invoicing, you can better manage cash flow using automation.

Payroll

Making sure you pay your employees on time is a very important aspect of business, but it can become cumbersome, especially as your team grows. With finance automation, the software can reconcile data across time-keeping systems, calculate deductions, and audit schedules.

Account Reconciliations

Regardless of the type of reconciliation you need to perform, automation solutions like SolveXia will save you time and allow you to conduct financial close in a timely manner. By removing the manual work, you can execute reconciliations as frequently as you’d like to better spot fraud early on and keep an eye on spending.

What are the Benefits of Finance Automation?

Finance automation provides various advantages to organisations that utilise this technology, including:

1. Cost savings

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.

2. Error reduction

By lessening the amount of manual work, you naturally decrease the chance of human error from taking place. Human error can cause financial, regulatory, and even reputational consequences.

3. Employee satisfaction

As employees spend less time on manual and repetitive work, they can shift their focus to problem-solving and strategic endeavours, which will likely result in increased employee satisfaction.

4. Scalability

More and more data enters businesses each day, and it can become overwhelming to be able to utilise it for your needs if everything is disparate and manual. An automation solution can pull data from various sources, format it, and centralise it so that you can make the most out of your data without limits.

5. Transparency

Financial processes often go through multiple hands before being marked complete. However, executives and stakeholders alike may need to have an awareness of the finances at any given moment to be able to make decisions wisely.

With access to a software solution, users can see what phase a process is currently in, as well as be able to review real-time data in an easily digestible manner.

How to Automate Financial Processes?

Once you deploy an automation solution, it should, in theory, run smoothly. However, before adding a new solution to your toolstack, there is some planning required. The main steps to transform your financial processes from manual to automated include:

  1. Outline your processes. You can do so by using software or even doing it the old school way with pen and paper. By having the visual roadmap of your processes, it becomes clear where inefficiencies reside and bottlenecks occur. Review what parts of the process can be  automated.
  1. Develop the workflow digitally. In each step, assign resources required for each task. At this phase, it may be possible to remove any steps that don’t directly contribute to the intended outcome.
  1. Test out the process within your automation solution. You can choose to deploy a low or no code solution like SolveXia so that you won’t need to rely on IT experts to get started.
  1. If all runs as planned, then you can continue to deploy the solution across your processes and organisation. Be sure to communicate with your workforce as to what they will be responsible for and how the automation solution is going to help them achieve their goals faster and more easily.

Why Are Existing Financial Processes Not Working?

If you’re operating an organisation without the use of automation, then it’s likely you’ve already seen how things can fail or be less than efficient. The traditional model of work within finance teams has been “Record to Report”, with little in between.

When processes are performed manually, data exists in various locations and isn’t always accessible. Furthermore, you get stuck with key person dependencies, so if a key worker is on vacation or out sick, your processes could be delayed. These hurdles add to your risk of missing deadlines or failing to comply with regulations.

Why is Automation of Processes in Finance Important?

Along with all the aforementioned benefits of financial process automation, it proves to be increasingly important in a world that relies on the fast-paced movement and influx of data.

Financial process automation provides your team with deep insights, access to information, more accurate reports, and a surefire way to make the most out of all your resources.

Automation solutions can provide you with the ability to perform advanced analytics. These insights will be readily available and generated in digestible formats so that anyone, even people outside of the finance department, can understand what they are looking at. These insights become the basis for many big business decisions.

Furthermore, financial processes should be standardised in order to remove duplication or cause errors. By running these processes with software, they are inherently standardised and made to be repeatable at whatever frequency you need them to be.

Beyond carrying out the functions and creating reports to provide insights, automation solutions allow for the safe, centralised, and accessible storage of all financial data.

This data is, by nature, sensitive, and with constantly changing regulations, it’s of utmost priority to keep it secure. With SolveXia, you can rest assured knowing that all your customer’s and business information is tightly stored with bank-grade security.

What Technologies are Used in Finance Automation?

Finance automation consists of different technologies that make it possible. While each solution is different, most of them will incorporate at least some, if not all, of these technologies.

Robotic Process Automation

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 being coded. RPA requires structured data to work and is best suited for repetitive, relatively low skill, and rule-based tasks.

Machine Learning

Machine learning algorithms can work in conjunction with RPA to elevate its capabilities. With machine learning, algorithms utilise historical data and spot patterns to be able to make future choices without human intervention. For example, finance teams can use machine learning for scenario testing.

Document Automation

Solutions with document automation leverage logic-based systems with pre-existing data to create new documents. For finance teams, this could mean the creation of invoices or financial statements automatically.

What are the Challenges of Finance Automation?

There may be some hesitancy within your organisation to adopt a new technology, especially one that is automated. The benefits of financial process automation surely outweigh any downsides, but some challenges could still arise. For starters, some finance teams will be wary of changing processes or reimagining the way they’ve always done their work.

Additionally, if your organisation is looking to jump into automation on a large scale without starting with small steps, the investment may seem to be bigger than the return. However, that’s not the case.

You can easily and cost effectively deploy an integrated solution like SolveXia without having to code anything. Once you do, you can start to realise the ROI almost immediately.

Wrap Up

The majority of finance leaders have already implemented robotic process automation, or are planning to. Along with all the benefits financial process automation will provide to your finance team and organisation as a whole, it’s becoming somewhat of a requirement to remain competitive in the marketplace.