Your business’s finance team are responsible for a lot. Whether it’s keeping other teams within budget, finding new ways to cut costs, or maximising profits, their extensive list of duties means they tend to be stretched, even at the best of times.
But if they’re spending more time than they need to completing business admin, it leaves little opportunity to work on tasks that require their full attention. By focusing too heavily on the more mundane side of finance, you may not have the resources to reinvest in your business.
So, how can you minimise the tasks which are draining your finance team’s time? Automating certain manual processes can free up their schedules, giving them room to focus on other tasks and providing them with a more efficient workflow that allows them to be more productive throughout the day.
Below, we’ll look at the tasks that automation can help take care of so that your team’s time is better spent during work.
What do we mean by automation?
Automation is the use of technology to carry out processes with minimal human intervention. In other words, it involves creating systems that run by themselves, reducing and streamlining the tasks that can stand in the way of efficiency, innovation and growth.
You’ve probably heard the term before, but it’s easy to come away with the wrong idea. While automation certainly frees up your finance team to focus on other things, automation doesn’t entirely eliminate peoples’ roles. Sure, it makes processes faster, but automation should also be designed in a way that makes it easy for humans to step in and rectify any incorrect decisions that artificial intelligence may have made.
From a finance point of view, automation can handle things like automatically reconciling payments with a bank account, or automating the capture of data from your receipts and invoices, which we’ll look at in more detail below…
Finance tasks that can be automated
1. Invoice processing
Dealing with receipts, expenses and invoices manually can be a long, arduous process. With the right accounting software, however, any quotes that are created can be converted automatically into an invoice, with all the details already filled in.
Meanwhile, Optical Character Recognition, the software that converts images of text into typed text, means that handling invoices and expense reports is a case of simply taking a picture of them on their phones. At the click of a button, they’ll have full reports without the need for tedious manual data entry or having to fruitlessly collect details from across the company.
2. Bank reconciliation
If your finance team has ever had to deal with CSV formatting and manually matching transactions to invoices and bills, then they’ll know how much of a headache reconciliation can be.
Automatic matching, on the other hand, cuts down on the amount of time spent using this approach. What’s more, by creating rules that match regular payments to their invoices, they can reduce human error too.
In-roads into machine learning also mean that certain apps have the power to learn over time which transactions align with specific categories, so you can see how much is being spent across your business in no time at all.
3. Credit control
The manual method of credit control can be a frustrating, time-consuming experience. With spreadsheets and accounting notes to contend with, not to mention a near-endless stream of emails that need attending to, the lack of a central source for your credit control can spread finance teams thin.
With an automated solution, chasing up clients and preserving your cash flow becomes a whole lot easier. Your finance team knows that allowing relationships to bloom takes time. But sending out emails and repeatedly phoning up clients can eat into the day in a big way.
Automating the process so that reminders can be sent out, both before payment is due and after the terms have expired, takes the stress off your finance team. Plus, with debtor intelligence and insights, you can see which of your clients frequently make non-payment a habit.
4. Job costings
Even the act of creating a quotation or estimate can be a labour- and time-intensive process. Accounting for inventory, overheads, and labour is far from a straightforward undertaking, and when several teams are in the mix, it’s easy for things to become more complex than they need to be.
With a multitude of manual data being duplicated, written down and then keyed into a system, it’s tough for finance teams to create clear, useful reports. But with ERP software on their side, it’s possible to not only create quotations and then send them automatically to clients but also for your team to track the quotations that have been won, lost or expired.
5. Data collection
Collecting and inputting data is another drain on your team’s time that they could do without. When receipts mount up, such as purchase orders, then the input of this data can be a lengthy task – especially when they have other duties to be getting on with.
With the right automation software, however, you can reduce the amount of time they spend on data collecting. This lets them scan things such as receipts or invoices so data can be transferred automatically into your accounting software. Something that previously took days now only takes a few hours to complete.
Automation has the potential to improve your productivity in many different ways. Click the link to learn more about how modern ERP software can transform your business financials. For more information on how it can help to optimise your operations, head to our Intact iQ page or get in touch with us today.