Time-Sucking Financial Controller Tasks Every Business Should Automate

Financial control tasks every business should automate

The role of a financial controller is to oversee day-to-day accounting functions and provide guidance on an organization’s broader financial strategy. They’re charged with ensuring the accuracy of accounting records, planning budgets, forecasting cash flow, managing compliance, and analyzing financial data to facilitate the company’s growth. The controller works closely with multiple departments, including the CFO and the accounting team.

Automating some of the financial controller’s responsibilities will free up significant blocks of their time, which they can then dedicate to tasks that require human input or strategic review. Here are some of the top areas where automation can make a real impact.

Compliance and Tax Liability

From solopreneurs to Fortune 500 companies, every business must ensure compliance with relevant tax laws, accounting and reporting standards, and payment and data security measures. Violations or lack of compliance could result in fines and penalties worth millions of dollars.

There are various digital products that can help controllers and their companies maintain compliance and calculate or pay tax liabilities. High-quality automation tools make compliance tasks less time-consuming and reduce the likelihood of errors.

Cloud-based platforms such as BlackLine and AuditBoard can make compliance audits more efficient for controllers. These platforms offer customized audit planning, enhanced communication, and better visibility into potential compliance issues.

Products like Avalara and TaxJar calculate and remit tax payments on the company’s behalf, slashing the time the controller has to spend on these tasks. Most tax compliance software products also integrate well with commonly used accounting software.

Budgeting and Cash Flow Forecasting

Predicting future cash flow and creating budget planning spreadsheets can be immensely time-consuming. Plus, manually transferring financial data from accounting software into a spreadsheet increases the risk of errors—which can be incredibly costly when scaling a business.

Budgeting and forecasting cash flow for the year requires an analysis of previous revenue and spending alongside projected income and expenditures, factoring in growth. And the process doesn’t end there; budgeting also involves the examination of budget versus actual spending.

Automation products dedicated to these processes can save dozens of hours for the finance team each month. Some accounting software offers simple budgeting features for the small business owner, but larger companies may opt for comprehensive software with more elaborate features, such as Planning Maestro or Jirav.

These platforms integrate with accounting software to eliminate the need for manual data entry. When it comes to analyzing actual spending versus budgeted spending, tools like Mesh Payments can be used for spend control, real-time insights into company payments, and expense management.

Data Analysis

Over time, the responsibilities of financial controllers have evolved to focus more on financial analysis for strategic planning and less on managing day-to-day operations. Controllers typically work directly with the CFO to develop growth strategies by analyzing financial data from various sources. To ensure smooth daily operations, controllers enlist the help of accounting and finance teams.

Many popular accounting and finance software products come with a standard dashboard, providing a real-time overview of the company’s financial data. Some software options, like those used for budgeting, offer customizable dashboards that summarize financial and non-financial information into visual representations. These platforms automate data analysis, keep it up to date, and present it in an easily digestible format.

Controllers can use automation tools to analyze data faster, streamlining the ongoing business planning process. The finance team can also add data visualizations to monthly reports, making them more accessible and easier to understand.

Invoice Processing

Invoice processing can take a lot of time—especially if you don’t have a good template in your accounting system—as can keeping track of outstanding invoices. Automated invoice processing is faster, more efficient, and more accurate than manual methods. It also makes it much easier to track the company’s performance and profitability.

The right invoice processing tool depends on the business. For example, Precoro is perfect for inventory-based businesses, while Airbase is ideal for consultancies. Oracle NetSuite also provides great invoice processing software within its ERP solution.

Financial Reporting

Financial reporting software helps businesses automate the collection of financial data and more accurately track trends that impact business goals. As this information is often reported to senior management, it needs to be accurate and easy to find.

There’s an incredibly wide variety of choices when it comes to financial reporting tools, but some of the top contenders are Oracle NetSuite, Sage Intacct, and QuickBooks. All of these tools integrate accounting with financial reporting to streamline the process.

Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable

Automating accounts payable and accounts receivable is a must, especially for companies with many vendors and customers. It can help you boost efficiency, cut costs, and take some pressure off of the financial controller.

One great tool for this purpose is Bill.com, which allows you to automatically import invoices from your email account and make weekly or biweekly payments. For accounts receivable, it lets you create, send, and track invoices. It also ensures checks and balances with built-in role-based elements, and offers remarkable support.

Data Entry

Manual data entry is notoriously unreliable—not to mention tedious. No matter how detail-oriented an employee may be, the repetitive task of entering numbers one by one is bound to lead to mistakes. Luckily, this is one of the easiest and most effective tasks to automate.

When choosing software to automate data entry, make sure to go for a cloud-based tool like Jotform or Lucy. This allows you to import and access data from anywhere. You can also easily categorize and analyze the data once it’s collected.

Spend Analysis

Spend analysis is an integral part of the financial controller’s responsibilities, and automating it can bring significant benefits. Spend management software provides greater control and visibility into spending across the company, helping to ensure compliance, avoid unnecessary spending, and find opportunities for cost savings.

While there are plenty of choices for spend analysis software, Airbase has emerged as the best option for small- and medium-sized companies. Divvy and Fraxion are also top performers, while Mesh’s spend management tool is ideal for optimizing workflows.

Risk Management

Risk management tools use the latest technology to protect against cybersecurity threats. This software makes it possible to centrally record, analyze, and evaluate risks and opportunities across all areas of the company. When the financial controller doesn’t have to worry about managing risks, they can focus on more valuable tasks.

One of the top tools in this area is Diligent HighBond, which greatly reduces the time spent on process administration. LogicManager is another well-known option, offering industry-leading software and excellent customer support.

Final Thoughts

The role of the financial controller has become more complex over time, moving from day-to-day oversight of accounting operations to broader business planning, data analysis, and strategy. Automating specific financial control tasks will free up considerable time for the financial controller and optimize the finance team structure, allowing team members to focus on providing valuable insights that promote company-wide success and growth.

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