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Financial Automation Guide

10 minutes read
Published on 29-02-2024

Why financial automation is essential to your ongoing organizational success

In 2024, “why should you automate financial operations” is almost a question that answers itself. Manual accounting procedures are known for their inefficiency and time-consuming nature. When utilizing spreadsheets for essential financial tasks such as accounts payable and accounts receivables, activities that should take seconds or minutes can consume several hours or even days. Moreover, each stage in the manual process is prone to human error, resulting in additional expenses, delays, and frustration.

With talent harder to come by and hold on to than at any time in the last 30 years, increasing regulatory pressure on your finance function, and persistent fiscal uncertainty coupled with our recent return to higher interest rates, it’s never been more important to achieve visibility over your processes to optimize your working capital, lower DSO (days sales outstanding), extend DPO (days payable outstanding) and improve financial control.

This is where finance automation comes in.

What is financial automation?

As the name suggests, financial automation uses technology to automatically complete financial tasks that your teams are currently performing manually. This includes tasks like account reconciliation, general leger entries, financial statement preparation, and even more complex tasks like budgeting, forecasting, and creating reports.

Financial automation software makes it possible to handle growing pressure on your department, and do it in a way that is easier and significantly more comprehensive than in any other business function. Accenture, for instance, estimates that up to 80% of financial operations could be automated. And since as much as 60-75% of employee time in the finance department is spent performing routine jobs that can be performed more quickly, with fewer errors, and with significantly less risk of staff burnout, you should see doing so as a no-brainer. But in spite of this, 49% of companies still don’t automate their financial processes – meaning they’re missing out on a huge world of innovation and opportunity.

Here’s 5 of our favourite ways that financial automation can have a huge positive impact on your business and its ability to maintain strategic agility in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace.

5 top benefits of finance automation

1. Save everyone time and enhance the user experience for both customers and employees

The non-automated finance ecosystem – whether it’s procure-to-pay or order-to-cash processes – are beset with challenges created by siloed systems, manual processes, and fragmented data. 

Finance automation software helps to resolve these strains by creating an integrated ecosystem for every part of the finance workflow. As well as creating numerous “quality of life” improvements for your teams by making data retrieval and reporting easier and eliminating large parts of the tedious rote work that often comes with financial operations tasks. With the use of robotic process automation in finance you can improve the user experience for your teams, your customers, and your suppliers. Enhancing relationships, making receiving and making payments easier, and improving staff retention through improved engagement.

2. Reduce the errors inevitable in manual processes  

Repetitive transactional work of the kind common throughout financial operations inevitably leads to errors, as even your most competent people aren’t perfect. The potential for errors is only compounded when you take into account the potential for duplicate or erroneous data entry created by working with multiple siloed systems.

Automated systems powered by AI and machine learning principles have a huge advantage in that like people, they can learn the correct steps and approaches for simple processing tasks, but unlike people, they don’t get tired and they don’t make mistakes “at random”. Allowing you to have a greater degree of confidence in the fundamentals, and giving your teams to pursue higher-value strategically focused work of the kind that helps the finance department and CFO become trusted advisors to the organization.

3. Improve data visibility and quality

Most finance departments are sitting on mountains of data that they can barely access, let alone efficiently leverage. With many processes still relying on multiple spreadsheets maintained by different teams, manually maintained databases, and a disjointed ecosystem of software solutions, data is often difficult to access, unreliable, and outdated by the time it’s retrieved. This makes reporting processes both more drawn out, and the conclusions they produce less reliable.

Automated solutions make it possible to create a “single source of truth” for all the data that exists in your finance department. Allowing you to look up any information required instantly and to a high level of granularity, and vastly accelerating the reporting cycle – making it possible to generate strategic forecasts, month-end close reports, and handle regulatory reporting commitments in minutes or hours rather than days or weeks.

4. Simplify regulatory compliance

Compliance regimes are becoming more strict and more complex as governments worldwide pass new regulations to close taxation gaps and enhance audits. Without automated solutions, the workload and of managing financial compliance will continue to skyrocket – and according to LexisNexis, it’s already costing over $200bn globally every year

Not only does finance automation software streamline processes, but it also ensures they are more accurate and compliant.  As most automation products are now being delivered via cloud, these can be used on an automatically updating basis to ensure you always remain compliant without having to invest hundreds of hours of work a year in doing so.

5. Boost decision-making and decision velocity and approach finance more strategically

Access to near real-time data from an integrated single source of truth gives your teams the power to work more strategically, with more confidence about the data they’re analyzing. It also makes a greater level of sophistication in analytics possible ¬– providing business leaders with an up-to-date picture of your company’s financial position and health and allowing them to make strategic decisions faster and with a higher degree of certainty. All of which can contribute to finance becoming a more valued and trusted business partner to the board and the rest of the organization.

Which parts of your financial operations can be automated?

Simply put, any finance task that doesn’t require a human mind to handle an exception or a novel situation should be automated. But here are just a few examples of parts of the process we’ve helped to successfully automate at rates of 90% or higher with amazing results for our clients:

Order-to-Cash processes: automation can transform how your business requests, accepts, and applies payments. For Serrala customers, this means liberating businesses from manual and time-consuming processes, automating the entire accounts receivable cycle from the conclusion of credit management to the application of cash to an invoice through the power of AI. 

By harnessing Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP), you can eradicate paper-based procedures and significantly boost the speed and efficiency of your AR cycle. This includes validating remittance advices, ensuring precise collection scheduling, and promptly identifying issues for dispute resolution.

Procure-to-Pay processes: for most organizations, AI-powered solutions can make straight-through invoice processing automatic for a significant proportion of outbound payment requests, including managing automatic approval and routing any problematic invoices for exception handling if they require additional input or appear to be fraudulent. The result is a greater ability to intelligently and strategically make use of payment terms to capture discounts, fewer late payments, and strengthened supplier relationships.  

Treasury processes  and cash visibility: automated solutions can unify your entire banking estate, making it possible to manage every account your business holds from a single platform. Improving your ability to optimize fees, ensure all mandates and instructions are up to date, and radically simplify regulatory reporting and compliance. 
Achieving cash visibility is of particular significance to treasurers and cash managers because it delivers the fundamentals for strategic decision-making concerning financing, FX hedging and investments. It is also essential for accurate cash flow forecasting, managing cash and risk exposures efficiently to ensure the financial solvency of the organization on a daily basis.

AI-powered software for finance automation

Serrala’s AI-powered automation solutions are trusted by over 2,800 world-leading brands to achieve the highest possible automation rates  across their financial operations process. Eliminating manual effort from many of their most important accounting functions and saving weeks’ worth of time across not just their finance teams, but their wider business processes, and experiencing the improved working capital that allows them to make key strategic investments and decisions more quickly and more confidently.

Our solutions are SAP-embedded, cloud extensible, and S/4HANA and RISE ready.
They’re designed to deliver financial operational excellence, empowering finance leaders to:

  • Accelerate processes for order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, cash management and treasury.
  • Better optimize working capital with near real-time insights, AI-driven modelling, and continuous learning for smarter decision-making.
  • Improve financial control for business and regulatory needs.
  • Enjoy greater financial predictability to support the organization’s strategic objectives.
  • Free proficient people to generate financially focused value. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what we can do for you, get in touch with us today to book a demo.

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It’s time to grow your business

Award-winning solutions for financial automation

As pioneers in financial automation, Serrala offers a highly powerful and flexible suite of solutions that have successfully empowered finance teams all over the world to optimize and modernize their financial processes. 

Up to 85% manual efforts reduced
Up to 90% faster invoice approvals
Lower cost per invoice

Connect with us and begin unlocking the full power of your financial processes

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