AIS consulting recently hosted a webinar to discuss the Need for Automation in financial reporting. At the end of the presentation, invitees were asked to participate in a poll, and the results were compelling.

Not many Group Finance functions have yet achieved a high level of automation. Our webinar poll results revealed that most finance functions are still working with Excel sheets, and only 6% of the participants have wholly automated their finance processes. The majority of respondents disclosed that automation was of high importance and their organisations were looking into it, however, some also acknowledged that t this was needed but hasn’t made it onto the current initiatives due to time constraints ad competing priorities.

The pressure to consolidate faster and be more agile in financial reporting is intense. Automation technology can enable and empower financial decision-makers and will speed up the entire consolidation and reporting process by eliminating manual tasks allowing stakeholders to make better and more informed decisions.

Introducing automation software makes it easier to integrate systems and improve operational performance. The benefits of automation extend beyond just the functionality, as various sales and procurement decisions are based on financial reports. While automation can eliminate manual data entry, improve the accuracy of reporting and help teams consolidate and report faster, taking a piecemeal strategy to automation maybe counter-productive. Automating a few areas with different technical tools is nowhere near as good as having a single technology across all group processes.

Finance functions can only achieve marginal gains with piecemeal automation. Automating isolated tasks can complicate the overall process and increase points of failure. A holistic approach to automation of the finance function is, in the long-term, much more cost-efficient, much simpler, standardised, and represents best practice for all organisations. This is evident from our poll results. It shows that although group finance has automated some processes, they are still looking for technology solutions to realise maximum return on automation investment.

Conclusions from the AIS webinar poll:

  1. Finance Automation is currently a high agenda issue – everyone is looking at it
  2. Organisations are in varying stages of automation – the majority having semi-automated processes
  3. Even those organisations that are semi-automated are looking for new technology to automate everything

How automated is your finance function? Join our next discussion on the 16th of March, where we will take a look at the top characteristics of best-in-class group finance software and how you can evaluate options for your software selection process.