One of our partners, Protiviti, conducted a fantastic survey on “2016 Finance Priorities”. The report is laden with some great information on what CEOs and CFOs deem important within the finance function. Here is one of the key action items that came out of the study:
Action Item for Finance Leaders: Look for improvements and investments in people, process and technology that can result in greater speed, accuracy and efficiency within financial consolidation and close activities.
So why speed, accuracy and efficiency? To understand, below is an outline of the top concerns for financial leaders:
Improving Margins and Earnings Performance – Optimizing resources and the ability to better manage costs is a top concern.
Cyber Security Risks – Managing and protesting financial data and controlling access to the ERP/Financial Systems.
Strategic Planning – Creating streamlined predictable, standardized processes for planning.
Periodic Forecasting – The ability to surface data from all systems of record.
Budgeting – Using data for improved budgeting and decisions.
In these key concern areas, the demand for speed and accuracy continues to mount, and expectations grow without the increases in staff and budget. So, implementing technology solutions to help is key for success, and helps to alleviate concerns. So what are the top finance processes ripe for automation? Here are the top 5 processes:
Expense processing – providing an automated, rules-based process for submitting and approving expenses can provide a standardized, repeatable reporting mechanism for projections.
Invoice Processing – with the majority of invoices still in paper form, automating AP is a key to faster payment (read early pay discounts), reduction in data errors and reduction in processing time. Using an AP Automation tool like Ephesoft Transact for Invoice Scan and Capture can feed any BPM process.
Capex Approvals – moving away from emailed spreadsheets in the CapEx process, and utilizing a managed digital workflow can provide insight, improved transparency and reporting capabilities.
Budgeting – providing a collaborative, social environment for budgeting can lead to enhanced accuracy, and reduce departmental shortfalls.
Internal Audits – simplified reporting and “visual” report tools can help smooth out the audit process, and reduce staff time required to comply with demands.
Financial Services and Banking Automation Through BPM
We released a great case study on First West Credit Union, and the customer achieved some amazing results through automation and smartforms.
“With K2, we can take the member process from hours – and multiple sessions – down to less than 40 minutes,” explained Arrowsmith. “It’s a much simpler and better experience for the member, and made it easier for member service representatives to get involved with new business banking opportunities.”
All too often accounting and finance work is accomplished either through the movement of paper through the organization, or the sharing of spreadsheets and files through email. Add a complex, business rule-based process like Capital Expenditure workflow, and now you have an error prone process with reduced efficiency, a lack of transparency and one plagued with constant delays. The traditional CapEx process has a number of core challenges:
Lack of Standardization – implementing a process without a guiding framework can lead to a non-standardized workflow. The process can routinely breakdown, and result in a non-repeatable and non-transparent business process.
Inaccurate Request Routing – manual routing of requests can lead to unplanned delays, and can impact project timelines, as well as core business operations.
Missing Data and Errors – Enforcement of required data and calculation errors are common in most environments, leading to further delays and accounting issues.
Lack of Productivity – utilizing email as the primary means of communication can cause additional delays, and lead to a total lack of visibility into the process. This can result in hours of lost time tracking down a process, or researching issues.
Implementing a Capital Expenditure process within the confines of a Business Process Management (BPM) suite can produce many benefits:
Standardization – standardizing the CapEx request workflow across company departments and divisions can lead to a predictable and timely outcome. BPM tools can provide visual aids, like K2’s ViewFlow, to always provide a status on the standardized process.
Automation – automating the entry of data, as well as its validation, minimizes errors and ensures the accuracy of any request. BPM forms can provides the ability to perform automatic calculations, summarize information, and check all the entered data for accuracy.
Improved Collaboration – with any Business Process Automation (BPA) tool, communications are automated to keep key personnel informed throughout the process. A centralized location for comments, as well as a communication log for each request, can help involved stakeholders make quick adjustments and minimize any delays.
Reduction in Approval Time – the standardization and centralized communication leads to reduced processing time. In addition, automated escalation can be put in place that enforce approvals and ensure process flow.
Transparency – BPM systems provide fantastic reporting to give full visibility and transparency to any process. Management can view the process in real-time, identify bottlenecks and make incremental improvements to improve efficiency and increase overall productivity.
These are just a few of the benefits from automating your finance processes with a BPM tool. Want to see a CapEx process in action? See the video below:
I thought I would share a video demo I built out for an organization that wanted a single, unified interface for their field sales organization using CRM. This leverages digital forms, workflow and dashboards, and integrates with Salesforce/Dynamics CRM to provide great efficiency and sales automation. Video below:
For more information on augmenting and improving any CRM system (Salesforce, Microsoft Dyanmics CRM, SugarCRM), go to k2.com.
Workflow and Forms in Healthcare, Hospitals and Medical Clinics
Building Your Own Apps
I wanted to share a quick proof of concept I built for a healthcare organization that was struggling with automating their process in their telephone nurse advice center. This video shows using K2 Workflow, Forms and Data to build out a quick app for managing calls, and the new tele-patient process. This process was built using K2 blackpearl, the no-code Business Process Applications (BPA) platform.
I wanted to share this demo for any service company looking to automate the initiation of new service with forms. Although this demo ties to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, note that because of K2’s extensive CRM integration capabilities, this could tie into just about anything, including Salesforce.
4 Ways the Gears of IT Can Benefit From BPM and Business Apps
The technical landscape in organizations is getting more and more complex every day. So I ask myself over and over: Why are most IT departments not standardizing on Business Process Management/Applications to standardize, automate and track their processes? If you take a look at any technical department, it is usually “Franken-apped”, with tons of different applications used for provisioning of accounts, management of systems, cloud management, and on and on. So how can IT utilize the very systems they seek for their business counterparts for their own good? Here is a list of some compelling BPM/BPA uses within IT:
Auto-provisioning of Cloud Resources – With the cloud in the forefront of every CIO’s mind, managing resources out in the ether can be a challenge. The ability to manage starts, restarts, shutdowns, snapshots and other cloud based resource activities can be time consuming and lack audit and reporting facets. In steps a Business App with a dynamic form as an interface, and powerful workflow with business rules behind it. Below is a screen shot of just such an app we use internally:
Auto-provisioning of Accounts, Groups and Email – New employee on-boarding is now a snap with all IT tasks being initiated by the hiring manager or HR. Requests get routed through a workflow, and painful, repetitive tasks are now automated. User leaving the organization? How about automatically disabling the account and mailbox? Through the use of this function, security standards and business rules can be implemented through an automated process, to ensure compliance, and audit all account management tasks.
Security Process Management (SPM) – The latest network hardware or OS security vulnerability is released, and you need to initiate tasks to over 30 team members to quickly eliminate the “Day 0” threat, and secure your infrastructure. As a manager, you are asked where you are in the process, and what has been completed? Using a BPA to manage and control the process, your dashboard can give you a real-time view into the percentage complete, and any difficulties in completing the tasks can be quickly managed.
Management of Line of Business Applications – One of the biggest challenges in IT today is creating the ability to “span” line of business applications. BPAs can provide a powerful data connectivity layer that can be managed centrally, and without code. Want to auto-create a SharePoint site for a new user, no problem. How about a live feed of Salesforce information into a form to manage help desk tickets? (More info on my previous post: 5 CIO Challenges)
Doing more with less has become the standard for IT, and automation is key to meeting daily requirements. This is just a short list of areas in which IT can leverage BPA/BPM. What are your thoughts?