The Complete Guide To Finance Automation (With Benefits And Processes)
By Guest Contributor Nilotpal Chanda, Co-Founder of bluecopa
So, you’re curious about where to start when it comes to financial process automation. This guide lists 11 finance processes that are ripe for automation.
Finance departments have numerous workflows and processes. Each of these involves people, systems, and data. Finance process automation helps coordinate all the moving parts, improving efficiency.
And traditional solutions that long supported finance operations are error-prone due to manual work.
But no longer! Thanks to the advances in AI, ML, and deep learning. Recent finance automation solutions help CFOs focus on high-leverage activities. They increase the efficiency of previous FinOps by 70%, eliminating repetitive tasks and retrieving faster turn-around times.
This article covers the basic definition of finance automation, its need, and some processes that demand automation. It sums up:
- Decoding finance automation
- How finance automation helps teams
- Finance processes you should automate
- Overturn chaos by automating
Decoding finance automation
Finance automation is the use of technology to implement financial processes and operations. You could automate key financial jobs like bookkeeping, reconciliation, and expense management. Automation in finance teams results in —
- Cheaper and more efficient financial processes
- Less or (almost nil) manual labor
- More agility and higher quality
How finance automation helps teams
When Siemens automated financial processes like accounts payable, accounts receivable, and budgeting, it helped the company comply with regulations. It also reduced the errors in financial reporting by 80% and saved $5 million per year in costs.
Below are core reasons why financial leaders are following suit and investing in finance automation.
- Increased efficiency
- Improved accuracy
- Enhanced compliance
- Freed up resources
Finance processes you should automate
To get started with automation, consider the following use cases:
#1 Procure to Pay (P2P)
This process covers the entire lifecycle of a purchase, from requisition to payment. It can be automated using a procurement software system that can handle tasks such as requisitioning, vendor selection, purchase order creation, invoice processing, and payment approval.
Automation can streamline handling requisitioning, vendor selection, purchase order creation, invoice processing, and payment approvals.
#2 Order to Cash (O2C)
This process covers the entire lifecycle of a sale, from order placement to payment receipt. It can be automated using a CRM software system that can handle tasks such as order entry, shipping, billing, and payment collection.
Automation can optimize and help manage order entry, shipping, billing, and payment collection.
Use the Cash Velocity Calculator to better understand and manage the impact your Q2C and S2P processes have on your working capital.
#3 Record to Report (R2R)
This process covers the financial reporting life cycle, from data collection to reporting. It can be automated using an accounting software system that can handle tasks such as data entry, reconciliation, and reporting.
Automation can expedite financial reporting by removing manual data entry and including reconciliation and report generation, improving accuracy and timeliness.
#4 Quote to Cash (Q2C)
This process covers the entire lifecycle of a sale, from quotation to payment receipt. Resembling O2C, it focuses on the early stages of the sales process, from generating quotes to closing deals.
Automation can accelerate sales cycles by automating quote generation and deal closure processes, enhancing sales efficiency and accuracy.
#5 Source to Pay (S2P)
This process covers the entire lifecycle of a purchase, from sourcing to payment. Resembles P2P and includes additional steps like supplier evaluation and contract management.
Automation can enhance procurement processes by automating sourcing, supplier evaluation, and contract management, leading to better vendor management and cost savings.
#6 Close to Reporting (C2R)
This process covers the entire financial reporting life cycle, from close to reporting. Resembles R2R and focuses on the final steps of the reporting process, such as report generation and distribution.
Automation can expedite financial reporting’s final stages, such as report generation and distribution, ensuring stakeholders receive timely and accurate financial information.
Payroll can be automated to calculate and distribute employee salaries, handle tax withholding and reporting, reduce errors, and ensure compliance with payroll regulations.
Automation streamlines payroll processes, making them more efficient, accurate, and compliant while saving time and effort for HR and finance teams.
FP&A can be automated to consolidate financial data, generate real-time analysis, and provide accurate forecasts, enabling better decision-making.
Automation in FP&A improves data accuracy, speeds up financial analysis, and empowers stakeholders with timely insights, leading to more informed strategic decisions.
In this article, Flux Analysis: Road to Observability and Integrity, Raghavendra Reddy explains how FP&A teams can use Flux Analysis quickly spot and help their business adjust to variations in trends.
Reconciliations can be automated to match and verify financial transactions, identify discrepancies, and expedite the process for accurate financial reporting.
Automation simplifies the reconciliation process, reducing the risk of errors, ensuring data accuracy, and saving time for finance teams.
#10 Financial close
Financial close processes can be automated to streamline period-end tasks, automate journal entries, and validate financial data, leading to faster and more accurate financial reporting.
Automation in financial close improves efficiency, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures that books are closed promptly, enabling businesses to make informed decisions based on up-to-date financials.
Nancy Wu, in her entertaining yet learning filled article, Happily Ever After - Achieving a Fairy Tale Month-End Close, explains what an efficient financial close looks like and how to get there.
#11 Expense management
Expense management can be automated to streamline expense tracking, automate approval workflows, and enforce spending policies, leading to improved cost control and efficiency.
Automation in expense management simplifies expense reporting, accelerates reimbursement cycles, and provides better visibility into company expenses, making financial processes more transparent and manageable.
Learn how CFOs are building their tech stacks here, The CFO Tech Stack: How To Build the Modern CFO Software Rack
In this complementary article, Improving Business Valuation with Finance Automation, Glenn Hopper lists 7 benefits of finance automation and then surprises with an eighth, the benefit that may be the most valuable of all.
Nilotpal Chanda is a Co-Founder of bluecopa, a finance application designed for real-time Finance Observability.
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