Automation has quickly become the darling of organisations across industries looking to streamline processes, improve service delivery and maximise margins. 

Automation helps employees to do more, more efficiently and (most of the time) more accurately too. It can remove the burden of the most mind-numbing daily tasks that many of us have to get through before we can spend time on activities that could have a greater, positive impact on our organisations. 

And whilst most divisions across an organisation will have started to deploy some level of automation, the process-driven world of finance and accounting appears to be one of the frontrunners. 

What is automation in finance & accounting?

Automation for organisations means that software automatically carries  out some of its financial and accounting duties. It helps to streamline workflows by automatically taking care of certain tasks, such as recording a transaction, raising an invoice or creating a financial statement. 

As most finance tasks are processes within processes, many of the day-to-day activities of an accounting function can be automated. In fact, McKinsey estimates that new and emerging technology could fully manage up to 42% of all finance activities within businesses. 

Whilst there are natural worries that financial automation could replace many human bookkeepers and accountants, there are huge benefits that organisations can leverage from continuing to adopt the latest capabilities of financial technology.  

10 ways to utilise finance & accounting automation

From paper ledgers in the 19th century to Microsoft Excel in the late 80’s, to the current crop of automated accounting systems… the world of finance has come a long way. Here’s a look at the benefits of adopting the latest in financial technology. 

Report automation

Pulling financial reports is one of the most requested tasks of an accounting team, and the latest technology is helping to automate this entire function. 

Automated reporting workflows can be created so that the right people get the reports they need, when they need them – without regular human input. That can be a monthly expense report for different team leaders, or hours billed by division for the COO. All are set-up once and set to automatically generate and send when requested. 

Expenses on the go 

Those paper expense sheets annoy everyone, especially employees who are often out and about meeting clients or off abroad for conferences having to manually track what’s been spent. 

Finance tech has evolved to make expensing easier than anyone could have envisaged even 20 years ago with on-the-go receipt snapping and uploading to a system that automatically calculates and can settle expense claims. That information is then shared into relevant accounting workflows automatically too, including accounts billable and financial reporting. 

Automated invoicing…

Invoicing is time-consuming and prone to human error, especially when input is required from numerous divisions. 

Automation removes the headache of invoicing for your team’s hard work by gathering the data it needs from various different sources, from hours worked by different team members to relevant expenses accrued too. And, automated recurring invoicing means you can set your technology to do the same process month after month, at the same time on the right day. 

…and automatic invoice reminders 

Nobody likes chasing invoices, so relying on finance software to pick-up when an invoice is about to be due or has become late, and then automatically sending a reminder to the client, is a task that most money managers will be glad to see the back of. 

Easy onboarding

Onboarding is a critical period for both employer and employee, and any method that can improve that process is important. Finance automation can help here by adding information gathering and payroll set-up to the new starter’s workflow.

Timely time tracking

Tracking employee hours, holidays and sickness are some of the most time-consuming tasks for payroll professionals. Automation helps by tracking these events and automatically updating wage calculations and remaining holiday entitlement – as well as updating project invoices based on hours worked. 

Alert systems 

Bank balance about to go into the red, a customer becoming a consistent late payer, or future cash flow issues identified? 

These are all things that CFOs and company leaders would want to be alerted to ahead of time, and that’s something automation is helping to make happen. 

Easier payroll

Payroll is one of the most time-consuming operations that all organisations need to conduct. And it’s perhaps the most critical to get right every time too. 

Automation is a payroll clerk’s best friend. Calculating tax levels, contributions, holiday entitlements and benefits can all be automated before a final human sign-off. 

Simplified tax returns 

It’s important to get payroll right, and just as important to get your taxes in order too. 

Tax compliance and reporting is a huge area of finance where automation is starting to pick up a lot of the slack. The best finance tech can automatically calculate tax obligations, taking into account all an organisation’s transactions and expenses over the financial year. This is especially helpful for organisations with bases in different jurisdictions, and also supports firms to keep a running commentary on what their future tax obligations are likely to be. 

Cloud-based integrations

Finance software that offers most in the way of automation is mostly cloud-based, meaning it can also integrate more easily with the other tools and platforms you use every day. 

These cloud-based integrations help to maximise the effectiveness of your automation. It means your finance platform can pull information from more sources and deliver more complex tasks. 

How to adopt automation into your finance processes

Over 60% of CFOs are planning to increase investments in automation to save time, increase productivity and improve accuracy. And in a tight labour market, business leaders are keen to achieve more with what they already have… or even less. 

But organisations face a number of hurdles when it comes to upgrading existing finance processes to the latest technology. They’re not sure where to start the project, lack the internal expertise and resource to manage that transition, or are put off by the presumed costs of doing so. 

At Phase 3, we’re experts in helping businesses to realise the benefits of the latest in finance and accounting technology – without the headaches associated with trying to manage the process entirely in-house. 

Our award-winning teams analyse your existing workflows, understand your future goals, and identify the technology that will support them from our vast knowledge of the entire solutions marketplace. 

Data migration, security, and new system start-up are also taken care of, working alongside your internal teams to begin capitalising on the benefits of finance and accounting automation as soon as possible… and deliver a return on your software investment faster too. 

Learn more about how Phase 3 can help your business through our system selection services here