Finance VLOG Series Tip #2: Automation

By Clinton Jones on January 12, 2016

VLOG #2: Automate everywhere in finance

So you’ve done all the pre-steps. and it’s time to figure out all the tasks that take up valuable time on a daily and weekly basis, and figure out how automation can improve as many of those tasks as possible. Don’t ignore reports – instead, find ways to build automatic dashboards and other systems that lead to more time spent on data interpretation and less time spent on data entry.

Last week we discussed validation rules, and in this 2nd of 5 part VLOG series, 5 Tips for Improved Finance Operations Efficiency, I will review the benefits of using Winshuttle based processes to gather, collect and collate data of all types, whether it is going to SAP or Salesforce or another system and then look at how you can extend and roll those out to wider audiences.  Watch the VLOG below to learn how to start with simple data collection templates and then up the game with workflow towards finance process automation.


Watch the VLOG

Automation Video Transcription

Hi my name is Clinton Jones and I am a Director of Product Management at Winshuttle, and today what I thought I would talk to you about is the whole concept of automation. It’s very popular, it’s very topical. There has been alot in the press recently about people being replaced by robots and automation of various kinds, and I thought what I would do is dig into the specific of what we at Winshuttle think about automation and how you can use this in working with a system like SAP or Salesforce. So in any given initiative that you have for process improvement, you live with the classic conundrum of the 3 legged stool – and that is people, process, and technology. What effectively has to happen with this 3 legged process it that you have to move one of these elements in a particular direction, positive direction in order to improve the process. Often people are the least attractive option because they are often the most expensive part of the equation. Also People tend to be the least flexible, particularly if they have been doing the work for a long period time. The other alternative is to change the challenge with changing the process is that if the process is already pretty basic and pretty optimized and streamlined, it’s difficult to do much more. The next best is to choose the technology, and when we look at the technology stack there are lots of different ways you can adjust the level of technology to improve the productivity of people or to streamline the process. From a Winshuttle perspective we have really 2 key ways of doing this. The 1 is to automate SAP transactions, and we do this with a product called Studio. Within Studio we have a couple of different components: one of them is an SAP transaction recorder, which can also be used to expose SAP APIs. And the 2nd facet is a product that actually works with Salesforce and does pretty much the same thing that we do for SAP. On the other side, we have Foundation, which is pretty much applicable to all organizations, but the big difference between Studio and Foundation is that Foundation has Studio as a prerequisite. So you can only start to automate processes with Foundation if you already have Studio in place. Or if you invest in Foundation today, you have to invest in Studio simultaneously. And so all of the automation objects that you build with Studio are then consumed in the Foundation framework. And then you have a couple of different choices for the way you use the technology. You can either go the Excel route, and use Excel based templates for data gathering and processing, or use a form based approach and this would be HTML 5 forms, which Foundation enables you to generate, and then you can use these forms together with the custom workflow or with no workflow depending on what you want to do. You can have workflow around both of these objects, and then you integrate this basically to either SAP or Salesforce depending on which system you want to use. The big benefit of this approach is we’re using technology we often discover that we need to tweak the process to make it even more optimized, and of course you get very happy people coming out of this process because now their work is streamlined, it’s easier for them to understand how to work with these systems, and they’re actually able to spread the workload across multiple groups within the organization.

Stay tuned for the next post – Finance VLOG Series Tip #3: Flow of Work!


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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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