By Yan Lazarev
Finance teams are seen as the last step in a potentially years-long sales process, ready to manage transactions by issuing, monitoring, and ultimately closing out invoices. This reality can lead to these teams being viewed as administrative team members, supporting other departments but not necessarily bringing in the business value of their own.
Underfunded and lagging behind on advanced tech, commonly doled out for the sake of automating sales and marketing tasks, finance departments often suffer from costly turnovers and are plagued by manual-task inefficiencies. Some of this has to do with a lack of market knowledge around finance automations, others have to do with a misunderstanding of how employees can be encouraged to maximize their impact on the company.
Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that people are becoming less interested in finance, with CPA examination candidates plummeting by 17% between 2020 and 2021 with equally alarming signs coming from undergrad and masters degree accounting student enrolments.
Long before trying to put a title on every skill that finance professionals bring, there were three general ideas- Accountants to manage the past, finance operators to manage the present, and financial planners to prepare for the future. In reality, while these titles may clearly define responsibilities, finance teams have been collaborating to complete these tasks on their own– manually.
Developing KPIs, regulatory documents, critical reports, and managing payroll manually have created a chaotic scene where each finance team member has their own process for completing their tasks. When processes are delayed, and deadlines are missed, companies must take out short-term loans to meet expenses before receivables can be cleared. In today’s current environment, that means manual tasks and inefficiencies are met with higher interest rates and greater expenses. For example, a 5% increase sounds small, but that translates into $500,000 your organization loses for every 10M you borrow.
Finance professionals as income generators
Now, let’s imagine we can remove the manual tasks from finance teams and move them over to an automated platform, which can stay on top of reports and even execute a smart dunning strategy. What would your experienced finance team, who knows the systems of your organization and perhaps others, be able to accomplish when not bogged down with repetitive manual tasks? How can they help CFOs who are in the trenches to better strategize financial plans for the organization?
Consider the mindset of these employees. When a good financial professional encounters an idea that doesn't look feasible, they don't just toss it. Instead, they determine precisely what makes it too risky. From there, they can assess the level of risk and introduce potential ways to mitigate it.
For example, a good FP&A might not say, "Hey, it would be a terrible business idea." Instead, they might recommend finding cheaper raw materials and making price adjustments to the final product or service. Additional options include optimizing processes and investing in new tools.
These steps can significantly reduce costs and improve profitability. After all, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. If you reduce your expenses, your net profit automatically increases. These profits are then distributed to shareholders or pumped back into the business.
Consequently, these types of strategic financial professionals are the ones that directly impact the bottom line by generating income.
Putting automation into play
While automation sounds like a great way to optimize any team, it’s important to find a tool that has what you need. No two companies are alike- that also goes for accounting automation platforms.
Talk with your team to understand their needs. Which recurring tasks can be automated? How successful are their dunning emails? How much time would be freed if an automation platform sends out invoices, automates conversations, calculates KPIs, and can conduct cash forecasting for different scenarios?
By understanding what they offer and what can be achieved, stress loads can be lowered, reducing churn and maximizing efficiency. Ultimately, this can lead to a more reliable cash flow and significantly lower operating costs. Now, once you reimagine how your finance team works, you can begin to reimagine the benefits they will bring to your organization.
Yan Lazarev is the Co-Founder & CEO of Gaviti