What do the quickly-evolving digital requirements of the new normal mean for your finance and accounting operations?
All eyes were on finance leaders in the months after the pandemic first took hold. Swift cost-savings decisions and digital stopgaps kept many struggling companies in business during challenging times. Now, with a new year ahead of us, it’s time to move out of survival mode and chart a path forward.
What does that look like for finance organizations? Most importantly, it’s balancing cost savings initiatives put in place in 2020 with investing strategically in the business in 2021. Those who prioritize technology investments that allow them to take advantage of the top digital trends will come out on top.
The business trends driving the digital transformation in finance operations in 2021
Catalytic’s recent guide, “10 Digital Trends Driving Your Operations Strategy in 2021,” dives into the different ways digital will impact operations across your business. Here are just a few trends that are significantly impacting finance today.
Recovery investments with cost savings potential in mind pay off
In addition to the adoption of digital practices to keep businesses running, the top headline of 2020 was the renewed emphasis on cost savings initiatives. Finance leaders instituted budget cuts across all departments in an effort to brace companies for continued uncertainty.
But it’s time to shift from short-term savings to thinking about recovery investments with potential for longer-term cost savings. Companies that invest during recovery, especially with operational efficiency and agility in mind, ultimately put themselves at an advantage. In a survey by Bain & Co., 52% of respondents cited automation and digitalization as critical enablers of their recovery planning and a catalyst for making gains that will allow them to outpace competitors.
ROI moves from eventual to immediate
For digital investments to be meaningful, they must prove ROI quickly. The business world is changing fast, and there’s no longer time to wait when it comes to realizing business impact and cost savings. Cloud technology shines here, with an average of 2.3 times lower total cost of ownership compared with on-premise tools, and a 2.2 times faster payback period.
Many finance leaders are viewing new technology business cases under a microscope, and ROI is definitely a hot button issue. For finance operations in particular, there’s a high potential for ROI related to efficiency, as work and data are spread between many different systems and manual processes.
AI moves from a theory to reality
Adopting AI-powered technology can be intimidating and feel like an unrealistic undertaking during this COVID era of work. This is especially true for businesses short on IT resources to implement and maintain solutions.
But with new no-code technology that can be managed by business users, called citizen developers, finance organizations can take advanced automation and smart tech into their own hands. Practical AI can be used for everything from completing tasks like collecting signatures and ensuring data is complete to providing deep insights into higher volumes of financial data than is humanly possible to manage manually.
Top finance operations processes to digitize
Consider the manual work necessary to create consolidated financial statements, measure KPIs, manage compliance, and deliver reports. These repetitive, rules-based tasks are a perfect fit for digital tools. Not only can teams free up resources to take on other value-added projects, but they can achieve an accurate, real-time view of financial data to enable better business decisions.
Here’s a specific example. One global certification company uses Catalytic for its invoice intake process, processing more than 1,000 invoices per month from more than 30 different systems. The Catalytic invoicing workflow automated 90% of the manual work, driving an immediate $125,000 in cost savings.
For more more specific ways that digital technology can enhance and optimize your finance and accounting operations in 2021, continue reading the guide below.
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3 ways to take action on digitizing your finance operations in 2021
For a complete list of the 10 digital trends driving operations strategies in the year ahead and a breakdown of what this means for finance teams, read our guide complete with more examples of specific processes you should target to make business impact in 2021.