CFO.com recently published an article from business benchmarking firm APQC called “How Finance People Spend Their Time.” The results were probably not surprising to anyone running Finance Operations. Finance teams are spending 49% of their time on transaction processing and only 17-20% of their time on “Decision Support.”
That’s not a ratio most Finance leaders are happy to hear. Their vision is of a Finance team that contributes strategic financial information and recommendations that help the business operate efficiently while growing exponentially. They don’t envision a team of order takers and data entry specialists.
In another recent article, by D&B, there is a discussion about achieving agility in the Finance department. The author says that “finance often struggles to achieve true agility in an environment that is increasingly shifting.” This is again due to a transactional focus.
Automation to the Rescue
The primary method for getting Finance pros out of the data entry (and re-entry business) is through workflow automation. By moving paper forms, spreadsheets and email requests to an online workflow system, Finance teams can spend more time focused on strategic work and less on transactional busywork. In fact, the D&B article (the link is no longer valid) puts it this way “a world-class finance leadership team is able to automate key transactional inputs and spend more time contributing to the business in a strategic way.”
Workflow automation allows finance organizations to build custom, automated processes that mirror or improve upon their existing, manual processes. Users access forms through a central portal and submit requests, report incidents, launch multi-step approval processes, etc. As tasks are completed by the appropriate coworker or manager involved in the process, new tasks may be spawned and information continues to flow through the organization following pre-set rules until the process completes. If more information is needed at any point in the process, process members can easily request it from anyone involved.
To get a better idea of the amount of time that can be gained back, we created a Workflow Automation ROI Calculator. Simply enter basic information like Requests per month and minutes per request and watch how much productivity can be gained.
- How much of our time is spent processing simple internal transactions?
- Are some individuals doing more transactions than others?
- Where are the process bottlenecks?
- If we could completely eliminate routine transaction processing, where would be use that extra time?
- What strategic projects are languishing because we don’t have time to devote to them?
Workflow Management Guide for Finance
Also, download our free eBook “Workflow Management Guide for Finance” which provides details on bringing workflow automation to your Finance organization including case studies, workflow examples, project management tips and more.