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Enhancing your accounting function through data analytics and automation

In a perfect world, a finance organization is the decision-making hub for a company thanks to the consistent flow of forward-looking analysis and nuanced insights it generates for a business. In other words, a finance organization should be the headwaters for business intelligence.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, with many finance organizations still existing on a corporate island rather than at the intersection of a company’s decision-making Venn diagram. However, a finance transformation — automation and data analytics, in particular — can break down barriers between a finance organization and the rest of your business, giving leadership the far-reaching insights needed to navigate a crowded, complex business landscape.

Transforming the accounting and finance functions

Think about your business for a moment. Would you say operations or your industry have become simpler over the last few years? Probably not. In fact, no matter what products you make or the services you provide, there’s a good chance your industry and market will only continue to grow in complexity.

That said, has your finance organization kept pace with these growing complexities? Or do you have a game plan to meet the challenge of a quickly evolving market? That’s what finance transformation is — the game plan you need to evolve with your industry and customer expectations.

And while a digital transformation in finance typically relies on three distinct components — people, processes and technology — I’ll save a more sweeping discussion on these components for another day. My company consults on finance transformations, so I understand that for those of you who are at the beginning stages of your transformation or haven’t started at all, this can all seem overwhelming. So, I want to hone in on the technology sleeve and examine how automation and data analytics can benefit your entire business.

How automation improves accuracy and efficiency

Accounts payable and receivable, payroll, inventory costs, reporting — these are just a handful of the laborious, time-consuming tasks within an accounting function. But they don’t have to be so laborious, at least if financial leadership embraces automation technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and analytical process automation (APA).
RPA allows you to automate monotonous, repetitive tasks with far more precision, requiring far less time than its human counterparts along the way. APA takes automation a step further, acting as a framework that allows you to manipulate data to reach a desired outcome, usually in tandem with innovative thought and ingenuity from your people. This could include month-end financials, cash reconciliation or the countless other responsibilities consuming massive amounts of time and attention from your accounting function.

Although a discussion on automation technologies can get complicated quickly, suffice it to say these innovations streamline and standardize processes, leaving you with repeatable solutions that only get more accurate and efficient with time.

Driving deeper business intelligence with analytics

Let’s take a look at the typical accounting function again. Most companies still rely on Excel for seemingly everything, including several tasks Excel just isn’t equipped to handle natively…


To read the rest of this article on Denver Business Journal, click here.