Finance workflow automation - what CFOs want to know

Overdue payments, misplaced invoices, and a lack of visibility - your finance team can't perform efficiently if they're stuck processing invoices manually. CFOs looking to optimize their team's effectiveness should consider finance workflow automation.

Defining workflow automation

Implementing automation in the workplace is challenging. CFOs first need to understand the basics of workflow automation and identify which areas need optimizing in their finance department.

Workflow automation is an approach that embraces technology as a means of executing business processes autonomously.

The aim is to reduce human involvement in specific and repetitive manual processes. Removing the need for manual data entry and tasks minimizes errors and waiting time, which encourages faster processing times..


Workflows to automate

The first step in moving towards workflow automation in your finance department is identifying which tasks slow down your operations and which would benefit most from automation. These tasks involve manual data entry, corrections, document approvals, and payments.

Below we'll talk about which workflow automation processes are popular among finance teams and which functions can be automated.

Accounts Payable

Accounts payable or AP automation is one of the most popular choices as it is the most paper-heavy and time-consuming function in finance. Functions that can be automated are:

  • Invoicing - exclusively use e-invoicing to cut down on paper
  • Approvals - streamline the approval process with automated routing
  • Manual data entry - scan documents and automatically capture data
  • Matching - automatically match, verify and approve your purchase invoices against orders and returns
  • General Ledger coding - apply coding automatically during OCR processing

Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable (AR) automation reduces or eliminates manual and time-consuming collection management processes, helping you process client orders faster. Automated functions in AR are credit reviewing, invoicing, payment reconciliations, disputes, and collections.

Automating your invoicing distribution process reduces paper and workflow disruptions. It also allows you to access your documents from anywhere. Functions that can be automated in document distribution are:

  • Scheduling – preschedule recurring or non-recurring emails and reminders
  • Attachments – automatically attach all overdue invoices, orders, and reports in different formats
  • Design emails – access and design your own range of email templates

Expense Management

Automation of expense management is also one of the top choices that finance teams make. An expense management mobile app is beneficial in this case. Functions that can be automated in expense management are: 

  • Matching – automatically match credit card transactions with expenses
  • Mileage tracking – automatically register and submit mileage expenses
  • Receipt intake – go paperless by submitting paper receipts electronically
  • Approvals – speed up approval workflows and reimbursements
  • Fraud detection – detect duplicate receipts

Benefits of finance workflow automation

As a CFO considering workflow automation, you also need to consider the benefits and the challenges of implementation. When deciding to implement workflow automation, your team needs to understand which benefits they can expect from automation. Automating your finance team's workflow comes with many benefits: 

  • Productivity increases – your team produces more, saving you money
  • Accuracy – the work is accurate as automation leaves little to no room for errors
  • Auditability – creates an electronic audit trail and streamlines the auditing process
  • Accountability – prevents missteps and documents responsibilities
  • Job satisfaction – your team can focus on more strategic work
  • Efficiency – there's less time spent on manual tasks and less disrupted workflow
  • Visibility – creates an overview of processes resulting in better communication

Automating monotonous tasks allows your finance team to focus on more strategic and insightful work, meaning they're more likely to enjoy their work overall. Fewer manual tasks and fewer mistakes will allow your team to be satisfied with the results they've produced and help increase motivation and decrease turnover time. 

Implement workflow automation in your office today

While there are challenges in adopting workflow automation for your team, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Most finance leaders have already implemented it - delaying automation adoption in your finance team will only result in continued inefficiencies, increased risk, and a failure to remain competitive in the market. 

Automation presents endless possibilities; your finance team's workflow doesn't have to be congested by time-consuming manual tasks. Workflow automation shifts the focus from repetitive and manual processes to a more strategic approach, freeing up space for collaboration with other departments and inspiring your employees to unlock growth, both on a business and a personal level.

Sign up for a webinar