Finance Automation: A Strategic Vision to Success
By Clinton Jones on March 3, 2015
The finance department is typically thought of as the scorekeeper of the organization when it comes to profitability, cost assessment and business continuity. Part of that role is managing the Accounts Payable and Receivables function. This includes managing the flow of cash, the extension of credit, debt and ultimately business liquidity and working capital – the lifeblood that is essential for “keeping the lights on” and the “boat afloat.”
If either the AP or the AR functions run inefficiently, then it is very difficult for the business to properly plan and forecast. Failure to properly forecast can compromise the position and longevity of the business.
Accurate financial forecasting is fundamental to a strategic finance function, and leads the department to a place well beyond scorekeeping; it positions finance as a strategic partner in the business.
In the Winshuttle Survey conducted in conjunction with ACCA, in 2013 it was revealed that the majority of over 800 respondents felt finance is often in charge of, and responsible for the end-to-end budgeting, planning and forecasting function.
Budgeting, forecasting and planning are often topics that spark the attention of the office of the CFO, yet somehow influencing factors like effective AP and AR functions go overlooked. The relationship between all of these areas is missing.
In another survey conducted by the Aberdeen group, with over 100 financial services executives in the payments space, it was determined that:
- Best in Class Invoice processing groups process their invoices at 0.17 of the cost, as reported by laggards
- Laggards take almost four times longer than Best in Class invoice processing groups
- Early payment discounts are more than seven times more likely to be captured by Best in Class than in laggards.
From these reports, it can only be concluded that in order to meet the strategic goals and objectives that finance functions aspire to attain, they need to automate processes like AP and AR.
Automation leads to savings and efficiency
Automation leads to streamlined finance operations, and enables finance functions to cope with growing transactional volumes. It also keeps operational overhead like head-count constant.
In addition, improving the through-put of transactional processing operations enables the finance function to benefit from lower transactional costs and garner the benefits associated with faster collections and early settlement discounts.
Winshuttle helps companies running AP and AR operations by improving the way they leverage their SAP ERP system. The Winshuttle approach is very straightforward:
- No programming – Apply adaptable automation solutions wherever it’s practical, without having to revert to IT for new solutions or solution adjustment.
- Avoid manual transcription and copy and paste – Support the finance function by allowing finance staff to continue using technology and tools that they feel comfortable and effective with, in conjunction with core ERP systems like SAP. This enables them to use tools like Microsoft Excel to safely and reliably interface directly with ERP.
- Enhance governance – By proving mechanisms that control the use of tools and support concepts like workflow approval, segregation of duties and audit logging, you’ll enhance the governance and compliance objectives of the organization, auditors and regulatory authorities.
Learn how Winshuttle customer B.Braun Medical, a global manufacturing and market leader of healthcare products and services, automated a variety of finance processes for AP and AR utilizing Winshuttle.
About the author
Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.
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