While technological advancements are often interesting, until they can show real potential for organizational change, they’re not actionable. In fact, recently released research by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) provides an interesting perspective on how a company’s efficiency, and even their bottom line, can be boosted through technology process changes, such as automation.
Be Prepared for Change
With nearly 50% of CFOs predicting a U.S. recession by the end of 2019, the office of finance needs to be prepared1. According to Hackett’s senior director of research for finance and enterprise performance management, Nilly Essaides. “[Companies] are going to put pressure on all of their business-services functions to cut budget and headcount, and traditionally, finance always gets hit the hardest.” Rather than bow to pressure, the office of finance can rise above in the following ways:
- Implement Robotic Process Automation for precise data retrieval
- Leverage AI to expedite order fulfillment
- Focus employees on high-value analysis for decision-making insights
- Transpose information with optical character recognition
Historically, the office of finance has been seen as merely back-office number crunchers that, while necessary, are not particularly innovative. However, F&A employees are usually among some of the best-educated and well-trained members of an organization; they have an inherent focus on analytics and efficiency alike. By utilizing both established and groundbreaking technologies, F&A teams can more than rise to the occasion in a budget crisis.
1. Focus on the Benefits
In addition to the larger organization, the office of finance can also achieve significant benefits with digital innovation. When the F&A team chooses to cling to manual processes, everything is slower than it should be and most likely is not keeping up with the rest of the business. Many other departments adopt technology more willingly and therefore are much more efficient with their time. Conversely, with manual methods in place, documentation is easily misplaced, workflow encounters bottlenecks, errors compound until the end of a reporting period and the quality of work decreases.
By introducing automation as a form of financial process overhaul, the whole organization can benefit. Projects are completed faster, with fewer errors, more communication and better insights that can be passed on to other parts of the business. When employees are free to focus on analysis and not simply input, they can contribute valuable insights to support the success of the business.
2. Realize Cost Optimization
Once F&A teams make the shift toward technological change, automation can bring greater usability to financial data gathered and analyzed throughout the reporting period. Increased efficiency is one of the easiest ways to improve upon an existing process. According to Essaides, “That’s where digital transformation comes into play because using digital tools, technology platforms, companies generally—and in finance specifically—can answer these cost challenges but at the same time maintain high levels of service quality.”
3. Provide Expanded Value
With an automated solution in place, the office of finance can contribute to the streamlined organization as value-added resources ensuring projects and analysis are on track. Even with tighter budgets ahead, F&A teams can prove their value and cut costs at the same time.
To learn more, click on the banner below to discover how automation can increase your company’s competitive edge and financial output.
To read the WSJ article in full, please click here.
Written by: Chelsea Downey
 Nunn, S. (December 12, 2018). Many U.S. Financial Officers Think a Recession Will Hit Next Year. Retrieved August 6, 2019, The Wall Street Journal.