What will the finance department of the future look like?
An ever-current issue that has been further updated with the restrictions this year’s corona pandemic has brought with it. At the same time, new buzzwords such as AI, Machine learning, and RPA are knocking harder and harder on the door to the company’s finance function.
Differences Between Different Companies
Today, the working method differs radically between different companies.
Some companies do not consider themselves able to afford to invest in new, modern ways of working. They put prestige in printing everything on paper and archiving their vouchers in folders as they have always done.
Other companies believe that it is quite good to automate as much as possible and believe that there is value in having a little manual work left. That work can still be “put on the receptionist,” a position that one has strategically chosen to keep.
However, most companies have chosen to automate parts of their processes and to digitize others. The companies that have chosen to automate and digitize their financial processes have probably had a much easier transition during the current pandemic.
Important Financial Processes To Review Today
Here are some important processes and tasks in your finance department that are good to review to work more efficiently and easier to work remotely.
Digital Supplier Invoicing System
With the help of systems, you can get all your supplier invoices to affected employees without being physically present. If you also have a scanning partner who takes care of the first part of the flow, scanning and interpreting all supplier invoices is, of course, an advantage.
Send Customer Invoices With The Help of An External Party
If you send your invoices with the help of an external party who provides an “invoice bill,” you do not need to enter the office to access a printer, envelope machine, or postage machine.
Instead, you send digital customer invoice documentation to their “invoice bill,” which then distributes the invoices in the format your customer receives (paper, PDF, digital).
Feedback of Bank Details Digitally
Most banks offer digital file reporting in digital format. With the help of these, you can quickly and easily load today’s transactions into your business system, no matter where you are physically located.
Make sure your documents, files, and reconciliations are stored in a place where everyone can access them.
Use a Digital Channel For Communication
If there are more of you in the finance department, communication is important, even though you are not sitting next to each other. A separate channel in Microsoft Teams, Slack, or another “chat tool” is an option.
Have a Digital Channel For Projects and Tasks
Use digital tools to plan and mark tasks that have been performed. This can be used around, for example, a financial statement or when you run larger or smaller projects. Examples of general tools are Trello or similar applications found in Microsoft Teams.
The points I describe above are already being worked on by many today. But what does tomorrow look like, and what can you do today to streamline your finance department?
Time To Introduce RPA?
A possible next step in your automation journey may be to start using one of the latest trends or buzzwords I mentioned in the introduction, namely RPA – Robotic Process Automation.
What is this now? RPA is a robot (bot) that does the tasks that a human would otherwise perform manually. The advantage of such a robot is, among other things, that it:
– Minimizes error registrations
– Free up time by removing monotonous tasks
– Enables time to be spent on more qualified tasks
– Can work around the clock
Depending on how your finance department and business system look today, these bots can be very useful. The specific area I think these bots work best is when you need to maintain and update more than one system with the same tasks, where you can not integrate the systems. There is a real risk of stomach upset if a person is to be responsible.
What Opportunities Already Exist Today to Streamline RPA Technology?
Personally, and based on the business system and various peripheral systems I work with daily, I believe that you get far with existing tools before you put a fine in your workplace.
In my opinion, many companies can streamline and automate a lot in their everyday lives by combining standard SQL programming with letting these customizations start automatically at a certain specific time.
Some examples of improvements you can introduce today:
Automatic Loading of Bank Files
We can help you so that your customer payments and your supplier payments are “keyed in” in your system when you arrive in the morning. Ready to validate and approve.
Automatic Printing of Reports
Do you have reports that you produce and send out every month, every week, or even every day? Let us help you set up such jobs that go with automation.
Continue to Train Your Interpreting Engine
By continuously learning the interpretation program (which is linked to your invoice scanner), your supplier invoices will, to a greater extent, be automatically posted.
There are opportunities to automate your invoicing to customers completely. SQL can help you create and send invoices the way you want (PDF, EDI, paper), for example, during the night. Your task in the morning will be to check that everything went well and act on any errors.
Automate Reconciliation Data
Do you run out of time, or do you have a lot of transactions? Then it may be time to automatically create the reconciliation data at night so you can start your reconciliation immediately in the morning.
These are some of the opportunities that already exist today. Together, you and your supplier can find the processes you can streamline in your finance department.
I guess that we will automate and streamline at a continued fast pace. The reasons are many. We will probably need to use our time for more qualified tasks, and we will need higher precision in our numbers. I further believe that even after the pandemic, we will continue to work remotely, but not alone. We will be more flexible, and we will probably work more in hybrid, ie, both from home and the office. This approach also requires us to digitize our data.