Accurate and Timely Finance Data Is Key for Sustainable Growth

The unpredictable economic outlook means that finance leaders can’t take the opportunity to generate accurate and close to real-time financial data for granted.

Unfortunately, it’s still too common for businesses to create slow financial data outputs, with errors only corrected retrospectively at month or year-end. This creates significant barriers for finance leaders to provide strategic input into their businesses and the risk of making sub-optimal decisions based on inaccurate data. 

Automation-powered ERP systems and end-to-end AP tools allow businesses to streamline their accounting processes and generate accurate and clean data. CFOs can use this saved bandwidth to make agile decisions to satisfy growth objectives set by their investors, both for today and whatever comes next.

Manual Processes No Longer Cut It

Whereas high-growth companies could get away with manual accounting and finance processes during the growth-at-all-costs era, this is no longer the case in the age of sustainability. 

Completing processes manually is inefficient and slow. The risk of human errors can lead to suboptimal decisions, such as increasing investment into a specific sales channel or ceasing production of an unprofitable product line.

This can detrimentally affect company performance, resulting in missed opportunities, and can put finance team members’ jobs at risk for making the wrong call. It also takes time to unpick and correct human errors. 

Scaling businesses, in particular, need to move away from manual processes even more. This is due to the likelihood of them having to cope with increasing volumes of transactions, with the pace of outputs slowing down further if automation isn’t adopted. 

In these instances, finance teams must demonstrate leadership and either maintain or cut existing costs while still achieving growth targets.

Bolster Close to Real-Time Data with Automation

Thankfully, many everyday accounting and AP processes can be automated with technology.

Using leading ERP and AP automation tools can significantly speed up the data flow, with the likelihood of human errors reduced to a minimum.

Automating mundane tasks like bookkeeping, bank reconciliations, recurring journals, supplier onboarding, and PO/invoice approvals will free up finance departments to focus on their organization’s strategic priorities.

Ideally, end-to-end automation solutions should be sought to fully streamline operations. This is the gold standard in automation as data doesn’t become siloed, unlike adopting multiple solutions, which each require their own backends and logins. 

Finance leaders should seek to build a business case introducing new technology into their departments by quantifying their ROI. They should also be given confidence by recent Gartner research showing that 89% of board directors say digital is embedded in all of their business growth strategies. 

Finance Departments Need to Look Forward

Under the new sustainable growth world order, finance teams need to become future-focused by analyzing data to input into company strategy.

Rising interest rates, the increased cost of doing business, and unpredictable patterns of demand for goods and services mean business as usual no longer applies.

This requires the finance function to pivot away from fulfilling compliance requirements and making the numbers add up to become forward-looking.

Warning signs to look out for include drops in cash balances that could breach bank covenants or require debt facilities and the implications of switching to secondary and more expensive suppliers to fulfill orders.

Business cases may also need to be made for developing new product lines and entering/exiting international markets. Making these changes isn’t easy, and there is the possibility of facing opposition from key stakeholders. However, leveraging insights from data can empower finance leaders to demonstrate why a shift in strategy may be required. 

Agility Is Critical for Today’s Economy 

Agility is one of the most significant benefits of using automation to deliver real-time data.

The uncertain economic outlook and pivot towards sustainable growth means companies are pressured to produce timely financial data and reports and be ultra-responsive to their environments. 

Monthly management accounts can be closed in days rather than weeks, so presenting the findings to the board becomes more meaningful due to discussion points being able to be enacted immediately. 

It’s also possible for CFOs to generate continuous real-time insights by producing business dashboards measuring KPIs.

Get Started on Your Automation Journey

In today’s economy, agility is critical for success. Access to accurate and timely financial data via end-to-end AP tools and finance automation can help finance departments be more efficient and help CFOs make more informed decisions that satisfy growth objectives. And given the unpredictable economic outlook, finance leaders can’t take this opportunity for granted.

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