Finance touches every corner of every organization, and as a result, the finance team has a lot on their plate. Throughout my career, I’ve found that digital technologies have a key role to play in making things more manageable.
I began my career in accounts payable, then accounts receivable, and so on, working my way up. During this time, I’ve seen major changes in the way the finance team works. In the past, almost every single financial process, aside from the odd spreadsheet, was managed on paper. When it came to travel and expense management, receipts and reports would be posted to me from all over the globe, and I would end up with cabinets stuffed full of paper. Now, paper is a thing of the past.
However, when you implement new technology, you must be confident that it will integrate seamlessly with what you already have. This is because the days of the finance team being hidden away in a corner are long gone. Finance is an integral part of every business, and as a result, you need to be visible. It’s not enough to be able to collect, analyze, and report on financial data. You also need to be able to communicate effectively with a number of stakeholders, so you can present the right information to the right person at the right time. As demands on finance teams increase, so too does the need to find accurate data as quickly as possible.
The same is true when working with different departments. I’ll admit, I don’t know the ins and outs of marketing and sales and all the other areas, but I do understand my impact on them. I know I need to provide timely answers to their finance questions so I’m not holding them up. Equally, if they were to stack expenses or forget to raise a purchase order, this has a huge impact on my ability to do my job.
That’s why we both turn to technology to bridge the divide.
You need technology that is user-friendly, without compromising on accurate and powerful insights for the finance team. You also want financial tools that can cut the time it takes for you to run reports. But what you want to avoid more than anything is disparate systems that don’t talk to each other.
In general terms, you need to have visibility of spending across the business. I’m sure everyone in a finance role has spent a good few hours trawling through data, but without technology, the processes would be largely manual, and incredibly time-consuming. This is especially true when auditors pay a visit. Most financial records need to be kept for six years. When an auditor visits, everyone works together to display the data that they want to see.
Ultimately, I’ve worked for businesses that have a different tool for every little process, and it’s a total nightmare trying to reconcile data in that way. Once your tools work together, you have a single reliable source of information, and it’s much easier to spot trends and make predictions.
If your finance department is still piling up the paper, it’s time for change.