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.
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: