3 Tips to Kickstart Automation Projects in Financial Operations

Automation in financial operations has become increasingly critical at modern enterprises. Today's financial professionals must juggle:

  • High-volume, repetitive tasks
  • Multiple data sources
  • Vendors with various invoice templates and payment terms
  • Tight deadlines for reporting and analysis
  • Multiple currencies and disparate global reporting standards

On top of this, internal finance teams have increasingly taken on a business advising role, helping business leaders make decisions driven by real-time financial data.

To manage these growing responsibilities and keep up with the competition, automation is key — and the results speak for themselves. We've found that successful automation projects can lead to 6-7 times more productivity from your financial teams. To help you kickstart your automation projects, here are three experts tips that will put you on the path to success.

1. Know your end goal

To be successful in any project, you must define success at the outset. When navigating automation projects, success could be as simple as automating data consolidation from various internal sources, or as complex as fully automating your invoicing process.

When you define your end goal, keep in mind that successful digitization projects involve more than just automation; they also involve process optimization. As you identify target areas for automation, keep an eye out for inefficiencies in your workflows and processes that can also be eliminated. This will compound the effects of your automated solutions.

2. Get buy-in

Making sure your stakeholders are on board is just as important as finding the right technology solution. Many finance professionals will be wary of having their daily tasks automated given the criticality of their role. If the push for innovation only comes from the top down, you’ll likely face obstacles throughout the implementation and adoption process.

To get your finance team bought into your automation projects, remind them that this solution will:

  • Remove the most tedious, time-consuming tasks from their daily workload
  • Enable them to handle more complicated tasks and pattern analysis
  • Empower them to become strategic financial advisors at your organization

With increased access to real-time data and more time to generate critical insights, this team will be able to contribute high-value recommendations when it matters most — a rewarding proposition for any team member.

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3. Start small

Ultimately, the momentum you build in the beginning of your automation project is crucial to your long-term success. When you set your preliminary automation targets, focus on quick wins with high impact. If you’re not sure where to start, identify manual tasks that are the most time-consuming for your team, or where you could be more efficient (usually high-volume tasks such as intaking invoices, onboarding vendors or dispatching payments) and tackle these areas first.

For example, verifying purchase orders requires a considerable amount of your finance department’s time; they need to source and compare data from multiple systems. Workers must sift through payment terms, reconcile past payments and remaining balances and analyze overall cash flow, leading to inefficiencies and errors. This process could easily be automated by a tool that handles three-way matching with an integrated data system. Your finance team will immediately feel the effects of a lighter schedule and less menial tasks.

4. Go big and scale

As you achieve small wins like this, you can gradually tackle larger and larger projects by leveraging the momentum you've built. At scale, you'll start to see tremendous returns. For instance, automation can save you 70% of your invoice processing costs, not to mention associated headaches.

Embracing the future of finance operations

With the amount of data today’s enterprise companies have, automation has become mission-critical. For finance teams, automation and process optimization present an opportunity to eliminate unnecessary, time-consuming tasks, streamline workflows and embrace a more strategic, forward-thinking role within the organization.

With successful automation, we've found that businesses enjoy deeper financial insights and more time spent on high-value tasks. If you’re ready to experience the difference of automation in your finance operations, UST SmartOps can help. Contact us today!

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