Ask any finance leader how much time their people spend on transaction processing and the answer will be “Too much!” Regardless of organizational size, a recent APQC survey shows that about half of finance teams’ time is spent on transaction processing.
In the last 15 years, more than 50% of Fortune 500 companies have been gobbled up by competitors, gone out of business or simply vanished. The cause? Digital disruption. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” characterized by new technology and digital connectivity, is upon us.
Executives and managers understand that in today’s rapidly changing world, excellence is not defined by the throughput of transactions. Keeping pace with change and deliver on outcomes are at the top of everyone’s list. In short, the finance department needs to be faster and more accurate in predicting threats and opportunities. They need more time spent on decision support and analysis.
The Feast or Famine of F&A
Yet, the feast-or-famine cycle of F&A continues to negatively impact an organization’s ability to get the most out of their teams. Highly skilled talent is often underutilized during non-peak times. (It’s not uncommon to see well-paid FP&A analysts performing many manual tasks and rekeying in data.) And, when the quarterly peaks hit, they are often overworked and heading toward burnout.
The staff follows processes and practices that have been in place for years. While these processes may not be “broken,” there are new approaches that can be employed. A recent whitepaper from Blackline predicts that while only 25% of F&A talent is spending time on analysis in 2016, by 2020 that figure will rise to 75%.
Automate for a Productivity Boost
It’s a matter of unleashing the chains of manual accounting work that consumes so much time currently. When mid-market as well as Fortune 500 companies can automate many of their current manual processes, it puts more thinking time — as well as time for creativity and innovation — into the hands of their people.
Automation reduces costly errors caused by overworked staff members and labor-intensive work like rekeying data. Digital technology, workflow tools and smart automation, also enforces a move away from paper-based administrative tasks that show F&A processes to a snail’s pace.
Digital technologies, when combined in tandem with process transformation, have the possibility of automating much of the transactional work that F&A talent are paid to perform. Isn’t it time you got more from your people?
To find out how Sutherland can work with your teams to bring smart automation and better processes to your organization, we’d be happy to advise you and offer an expert assessment of your current practices.