According to a survey in early 2019, 61% of organizations in the United States are using automation in some form or fashion. Among businesses implementing automation, most have automated highly repetitive back-office functions. Automation of functions is most extensive in IT, operations and production, customer service and finance. And a recent study conducted by The Hackett Group revealed that nearly 80% of their study respondents state that the drive to digital automation only became more urgent since the impact of COVID-19.
But how does the office of finance prepare for a financial close software implementation? Here are five steps you can take right now to prepare your finance and accounting teams for the new technology.
1. Document Your Current Processes and Controls
Do you have all your processes and controls documented? This is a critical step in your technology adoption project, especially for the financial close software vendor. Specifically, Adra by Trintech works to streamline and standardize your close process in the most efficient and effective way possible, but to do that requires understanding the starting point. Financial leadership also needs to understand what position your office of finance is in every close period so you can begin to ask critical questions and define your goals.
- Do you have a strong internal framework?
- Can you improve the effectiveness of your controls?
- How many days does it take your organization to close, and why?
- How long are the tasks themselves taking to complete?
- Where do bottlenecks occur?
- Is the workflow organized or is it a patchwork of tasks and their owners?
Using tools such as flowcharts, narratives and other diagrams, record your current close process. Knowing how your team functions every close cycle, and why it functions that way, is crucial to a successful financial automation implementation.
2. Determine Task Inter-Dependencies
Your close process, though possibly not the most efficient in its current state, has kept your organization running for a while. However, if it is stitched together by manual processes, spreadsheets and institutional knowledge, it tends to be complex. Improving one area of your close may trigger several responses in another area. When all inter-dependencies are documented, your financial automation vendor can help weave through the inefficiencies in order to standardize your financial close.
This is another reason that recording how your close currently functions today is crucial.
3. Create Your ROI Goals
Understanding the functionality of your current processes is the first step to determining where you want financial close software to take your team in the future. If it takes you seven days to close, how many days do you want to shave off? Does your team require an automated solution with virtual work capabilities? Would you like to have the ability to run data analytics on your close?
Financial close automation isn’t simply a tool— it’s a partner. Sit down with your leaders and project stakeholders and create the goals that you want automation to help you achieve.
4. Gain Organizational Support
An important aspect of the technology adoption process is to make sure that your organizational leaderships knows the project is a priority. The implementation will run smoother that way, especially if you have executive buy-in. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and finance team will typically define the strategy and the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and IT team will help support that initiative. Ensuring both sides are aligned as a powerful partnership is the best case scenario for success. Demonstrate the return-on-investment and benefits that the new technology will give not only to the office of finance, but the entire organization. By demonstrating the positive revenue impact and other organizational benefits this implementation will make, you ensure the project will be a priority across the company.
5. Educate Your Staff
By nature, accountants tend to be risk-averse and therefore somewhat wary of any new tools, especially when financial close automation is involved. The fear that automation replaces the jobs of accountants is also something that needs to be addressed head-on. Explain to your staff that the technology project will not replace their duties but enhance and augment them. Tell them the ROI goals the project will accomplish and how it will positively affect their lives. Just as you need executive buy-in to make the implementation run smoothly, you also need staff buy-in.
To reap the benefits of financial close software and begin simplifying your financial processes with Adra, speak to one of our experts.
Written by: Ashton Mathai