4 Keys to Automating and Scaling Your Financial Operations

Automating and Scaling Financial Operations

Now that the pandemic is subsiding and economies are pushing for growth, raising profits is a priority for all businesses. Finance leaders are expected to play a greater role than ever in helping their organization drive growth, but they are also coping with budgets that haven’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, rising labor costs, a growing skills gap, and pressure to lead initiatives in new areas like accelerating a digital culture and leading a tech-enabled business model transformation.

CFOs have to do much more with less, and that requires reformulating their workflows and processes to take advantage of automation and free up CFO time to focus on growth activities. A study by PWC reported that this year, 80% of CFOs intend to invest in automation to enable them to cope with increased labor costs and ongoing supply chain problems. This is the essence of scaling, which means getting more out of the same resources. 

Here are the 4 guiding principles that help CFOs introduce scalable, automated finance operations into their organization.

1. Start With a Strong Foundation

Even the most advanced and effective automation technologies won’t deliver the results you’re hoping for if you introduce them too fast. Prepare the ground so that new tools and processes can work efficiently. 

That means ensuring there aren’t any silos between departments, and that lines of communication are strong. Finance teams should have real-time access to all the data they need, no matter what the source. For example, expense data should reach them automatically and immediately, without anyone having to chase down siloed reports or wait for physical receipts. 

You also need to make sure that everyone is on board. All employees, both in the finance department and across the organization, should understand the benefits of automation and be willing to learn new skills to manage the new systems if necessary. Reskilling and upskilling should happen well before any new data management platforms arrive at your company. 

2. Apply Automation to Unlock Operational Efficiencies

Scaling finance effectively means beginning with the small tasks and making them more efficient. Minor activities like validating finance data or processing payments can take up a disproportionate amount of time. When you automate those tasks, you’ll enable operational efficiencies that allow you to pay far more attention to scaling the bigger challenges. 

For example, 65% of businesses spend 14 hours a week on payment collection tasks, and 72% said that this time-suck was holding them back from driving growth. If they automate these processes, they could spend an extra 14 weekly hours on other responsibilities. 

Look for ways to help your team deliver more value, not just to cut costs. If you’re not sure where to introduce automation, look for repetitive tasks, and the processes and workflows that take up the greatest amount of employee time. These are the responsibilities that are ripe for automation and will have the biggest impact in scaling.

3. Empower the Rest of the Company to Operate Independently

Finance departments need oversight into spend decisions, but if other departments have to request approval for every purchase, it holds them back from pursuing growth-related activities, and the interruptions make it difficult for finance to focus on strategic endeavors. 

At the same time, you don’t want to lose visibility into company purchases or risk having shadow IT grow up without you noticing. 

Automated processes like distributed spend management allow departments to make independent buying decisions without the risk that they’ll overspend or buy tools that overlap with ones you already use. Tools like chatbots and automated reminders help employees comply with company policies and get pre-approval for transactions without taking up more finance team time. 

4. Ensure Real-Time Access to KPIs

You can’t scale finance operations without complete access to real-time insights. You need a business intelligence dashboard that tracks all your top KPIs and key metrics in real time, so you can instantly see how the business is performing, and any changes in the organization or markets. If you’re relying on lagging data, even if it’s just a few days old, you’ll be one step behind business trends and blind to current reality 

Whatever tool you use, make sure it’s user-friendly. It’s not enough just to have the real time KPI reporting; your entire team needs to be able to view it and understand the visualizations independently. If data scientists have to help you interpret the dashboard every time, it’s not going to serve its purpose. 

Scaling Finance Operations Can Work for Your Business

Finance teams have a lot to manage, but automating and scaling operations can go a long way to helping them stay on top of it all. By following these best practices to lay a strong base for scaling, focusing on increasing operational efficiency, ensuring the finance team has access to real time data, and helping other departments handle basic decisions independently, you’ll be well on the way to successful automation and scale for your finance operations. 

To learn how Mesh Payments can help your company automate and scale its financial operations, book a demo with one of our reps today.

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