How finance teams are leveraging automation

November 25, 2019
November 25, 2019 Allie

How finance teams are leveraging automation

Americans have a love-hate relationship with automation. On the one hand, they readily recognize the tremendous amount of convenience it offers them in their personal and professional lives.

But on the other, some fear the frequency with which it is utilized poses a threat to their livelihood. In a poll conducted by Gallup, nearly 60% of respondents said new technology – such as AI – had a greater potential for resulting in net job losses than offshoring. And roughly a quarter – 23% – worried about the possibility that they too could lose their jobs to artificial intelligence.

AI assisting with prioritization

While some industries have been affected by automation more than others, the notion that AI poses an existential threat has proven to be an overreaction. Finance, for one, is increasingly relying on automation to improve work processes, which has enabled professionals to work in capacities that are more in line with their strengths and require the human touch.

Just ask Robert Kugel, senior vice president and director at Ventana Research. Speaking to CFO Dive, Kugel noted that one of the biggest obstacles for accounting firms is the amount of time devoted to the type of work that is very monotonous in nature, specifically calculations and manually entering data into spreadsheets. While these tasks are undoubtedly important, technology has evolved to such an extent that they can easily be automated.

“A lot of this busywork was appropriate 40 years ago, 30 years ago, but now we finally have sufficiently capable technology to make it possible to do much more automation and eliminate the need for manual work,” Kugel explained.

This added reliance on AI has been influenced by the immense amount of growth in cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and applications, Kugel further noted. At one time, only large corporations were able to fully leverage the power of automation, but thanks to competition and the speed with which tech is advancing, these programs are more affordable for medium and small businesses to implement straight out of the box.

Case in point: Microsoft Dynamics 365. With this software program in place, businesses can quickly and seamlessly assess the monetary health of their company, document transactions and use predictive insights for payments that remain outstanding.

Enhances cash flow management

Take cash flow as a classic example. In many ways, it’s the lifeblood of a business by allowing companies to pay the bills and make strategic investments.

But when customers are delinquent on payments or don’t always submit them in a timely manner, it can create liquidity problems, particularly for organizations whose costs are in a constant state of flux. Dynamics 365 can use a combination of historical data, machine learning and analytics to generate forecasts as to when payments will likely be made. This provides leaders and associates with the insight and perspective they need to make decisions about when and how to proceed if invoices are outstanding.

Increases flexibility

In addition to the predictive elements that SaaS technology like Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides to finance teams, it also increases visibility. Because data is available within the cloud, decision makers aren’t restricted to on-premises reporting. This frees up space and leverages the omnipresence of mobile devices as this software solution is compatible on many different platforms, including Apple products.

Jess Scheer, executive editor at the Institute of Finance & Management, told CFO Dive that automation can also help reduce expenses by streamlining accounts payable. All too often, when payments remain outstanding or are paid well after their due date, they stem from inaccuracies listed on paperwork, which are often attributable to human error. AI helps to mitigate these issues by providing greater visibility and vigilance, thus reducing waste and duplicative tasks.

“Organizations think if they’re more efficient they can reduce people, but you add more value if you apply people to higher tasks,” Scheer told CFO Dive.

Enables you to make the most of your key employees

This is ultimately the biggest upshot of enterprise resource planning software. It simplifies the repetition and tedium associated with financial calculations, which frees up staff to tackle the more challenging jobs that require problem solving, face-to-face interaction, ingenuity and the ability to think on one’s feet.

Here at The TM Group, we’re a proud partner of Microsoft ERP software and can set you up with the suite that fits your budget and goals. We have extensive experience in distribution/manufacturing, education, entertainment, family office management, field service, foundations, healthcare, professional services, and retail/grocery.

Please contact us today to learn more.

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