28 August 2020

Keep Calm And Let Finance Automation Kick Out Chaos

by Rachelle Lee

Leading a transformation initiative to reset your business model? Looking to evolve, diversify and widen your sales channels? 

Winds of change are sweeping through many industries. Brands are under pressure to embrace business transformation to boost earnings and tackle sustainability. Businesses need to adapt and change within diverse contexts and leaders need to stay resilient as they leverage opportunities from key trends shaping the industry.

The rigors involved in identifying, assessing and mitigating varied risks, especially risks from dynamic macro factors, such as human and financial capital management, are unfolding on a massive  scale. A new approach to business agility is required to match the change that is coming even faster than anticipated. 

Astute business leaders recognise that they have a choice when it comes to prioritising where they should invest more of their time and energy in, as they prepare for the magnitude of change ahead of them. 

They can either choose to try to overhaul their business with existing resources at hand, or embrace new digitalized ways of working and automating business processes to focus on continued growth.

With the wide array of software solutions touting promises of scaling new heights of business efficiencies, where does one’s digital transformation journey begin? Also with ever-tightening budgets, how does one justify the expenses of process automation? 

To help you through this process, we have created a handy checklist that speaks to the very department who will be funding your initiative: Finance.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

This does not mean ruthless obliteration of expenses and budget cuts; it simply means getting smarter in the way we work. 

Look more closely at where “dead weights” have been created and are slowing your ship. 

Examples of such “dead weights” are processes that require tracking information in spreadsheets or in sending long chains of emails, paper-based recording and documentation of hard-copy receipts. 

Apply the Marie Kondo business principle of saying “goodbye, and thank you” and put those lumbering processes into the paper shredder. 

Let’s dedicate our time to building future opportunities and getting to where we all want to be faster, and more efficiently.

Make it easy to find information fast

Looking to verify the accuracy of given information urgently to make a pressing decision?

In moments like these, full visibility and real-time accuracy of information must be available anytime to everyone who is working from anywhere. 

A single hub that collates and unifies such information promotes open and transparent communication. 

Siloed information must be avoided. So should the hassle sifting through paper trails to get questions answered.

When work gets done on time and on spot, everyone will be happy. 

It’s time to move into proactive apps that digitize time-consuming paper-based office processes as much as possible, such as travel approvals, tracking of corporate spending, marketing budgets, expense reporting and org charts. That way, everyone can access the information they need on one integrated platform, instead of emailing the latest version of a spreadsheet. 

Ease of implementation

Many software vendors may besiege you with questions like: How much are you looking to pay for this process change? When do you expect implementation of this solution to promote optimization of internal processes? How would you demonstrate increased efficiency of performance of everyday tasks? 

They are not wrong. For most organisation-wide solutions, how you set these parameters will determine how your project will proceed and the results to follow.  

The good news is that finance automation tools are cost-friendly and can be easily implemented in seconds. 

End-to-end accounting of corporate spend, regardless of where employees work from can be implemented seamlessly in very little time. 

Bringing it all together

Business transformation is not just a technology problem. It is a combined technology, people, and process problem. To succeed, you need to involve and evolve all three areas. 

1. Evolving your technology

By applying the selection criteria recommended above, you are proactively shifting away from age-old process-centric behaviours towards an organisation-centric view of managing administration.

In automating routine, repetitive and mundane administrative tasks, you are able to devote more time to other essential tasks such as building relationships with customers or finding ways to grow your business.

2. Evolving your people

When it comes to implementing finance automation, pick a solution which is relatable to your employees and engages them from the beginning. 

Let us look at a regular routine and familiar exercise that plays out in every company, in every industry and in every field: 

Employees dread sifting through a pile of receipts and other paper documents, manually entering every line entry on an expense report, allocating taxes in a separate column, with a pronounced urgency that comes at the peak of closing of the financial year.

Finance automation offers an easy way to digitize, categorize and archive receipts. In more progressive solutions, the application even writes the expense reports for you, rendering manual expense reporting firmly to being a thing of the past.

By streamlining accounting and book-keeping tasks, finance teams, project managers are able to access accurate, up-to-the-minute information through one integrated platform. 

3. Evolving your processes

Another problem we often see is a rush to try out new technologies without considering their suitability to the broader organizational strategy. 

One Chief Information Officer I met with recently remarked: “There is a ‘tools’ explosion going on. Individual departments are trying out the latest and the greatest software with absolutely no alignment to each other or the rest of the business.”

This creates an unnecessary mess that he now must untangle. 

Does this sound like a technology problem? It is actually a process problem. 

If you have a process in place for purchasing requests and as a “second layer of protection”, a designated prepaid corporate card to be used for payments, there will be no technical debt to pay down in the scenario described above. 

It can be hard to imagine incorporating finance automation when you are already completely overwhelmed by keeping the lights on.

But let us take some time to consider how we have been doing business in the same ways we always have. Let us put together a plan and take advantage of those opportunities to make work easier so that we can focus on the biggest asset of growth: our creative energies.

Let Volve help you to declutter simplify

Transitioning towards an automated expense reporting system? Setting up decentralized teams?

Volve’s corporate card comes with an automated expense management and reporting tool. This enables all functions of business to capture productivity growth potential from time-cost reductions, greater accuracy, increased visibility and control.

From sales to human resources to finance operations, management can look forward to shifting resources from repetitive manual practices to realizing strategic goals that would create more value and deliver higher returns.

Experience how one single solution can improve accountability, accuracy and efficiency. Test drive Volve today free for 30 days.

Rachelle Lee
Growth Hacker
Prior to scaling next-generation financial services, Rachelle lived out of a suitcase across Asia working on a 3-year research plan gathering customer insights and synthesising consumer decision journeys for global creative agencies, engaging with businesses on growth marketing, brand storytelling and customer engagement models for future business growth. She still drinks too much coffee, doing meaningful work with trailblazers and innovators to bring greater literacy to spend management solutions.

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