Finance teams: Automate & organise your admin and finance processes. Fast, simple, secure.
If money makes the business world go ‘round, finance teams are the rotation axis that makes sure it doesn’t stop.
Tasked with managing all money coming in, and all money going out, a business’s finance team has the crucial role of ensuring there are adequate funds available for the seamless running of operations. Without this unit, there is no liqcuidity, no accountability, no business.
So, when a business’s finance team is in disarray, the whole business suffers. And, given the complexities and need for meticulous management of accounts, finance and accounting teams are sitting ducks for admin disasters. That is, without the right tools.
The digitisation and automation of financial management and reporting releases a huge weight from the shoulders of finance teams and results in an increase in report accuracy, significant cost savings, and – perhaps most importantly in today’s stringent regulation environment – better transparency.
Finance teams: The challenges
With CFOs and their teams under more pressure than ever before due to tightening of regulations, it is a necessity (not a nice-to-have) for them to automate manual processes, so that finance can not only keep up, but also fully comply and carry out analysis with better quality data.
The nature of the finance beast is such that:
- Processes are repetitive and mostly data-driven
- Financial data dictates many of the biggest business decisions
- Processes have to be performed at least monthly
- Finance team functions are often reliant on a handful of employees
- All processes carried out within a business’s finance team are subject to scrutiny – not only by the business’s own top levels, but by regulators, auditors and customers
- The modern finance team is expected to analyse unprecedented volumes of data
All this considered, it’s clear that some form of digital intervention is the only way finance teams can succeed in today’s data-driven business world.
But, as they say, old habits die hard. Most businesses’ finance teams have years of manual routine behind them – administrative hurdles that make automating seem all but impossible.
Diving into digital
That said, Gartner reckons 2022 will be the year CFOs really dive into digital. “In mid-2020, 69% of boards of directors said they would accelerate their digital business initiatives in response to COVID-19 effects. By mid-2021, 64% said they had tried to significantly alter their enterprise to become more digital.”
According to Gartner’s latest research into finance leaders’ priorities, 82% of CFOs report that their investments in digital are accelerating, exceeding investments in other areas, such as talent, supply chain, business services or fixed assets.
The technology research and consulting firm says that, among the top ten critical strategy shifts needed for digital success, is the prioritisation of technology vendors that allow for digital scaling.
In essence, the work of finance teams can be summed up accounts receivable (debtors), accounts payable (creditors) and financial reporting (audits).
The effective and scalable digitisation of these three components will turn finance teams into well-oiled rotation axes, giving businesses total confidence in their sustained growth.
SigniFlow for finance teams’ challenges
SigniFlow for finance teams automates and organises financial processes and documents, storing it all in a single secure, searchable document repository.
Debtors’ portal: Easy retrieval of sales-related documents
In an ideal world, a finance team’s accounts receivable process would go like this: The customer requests a quote from the sales team and, if accepted, sends a purchase order to the sales team. The goods or service is delivered, a sales order is created and once payment is confirmed, the invoice is raised and sent to stores for delivery.
But, as all longsuffering accounts receivable teams know, this is a far cry from reality. In reality, the list of documents involved go far beyond invoices and statements. Think account applications, account approvals, onboarding forms, credit note approvals, re-invoicing, debtors’ correspondence, and demand letters.
In order to effectively manage this multipart (and often complicated by red tape) process, finance teams have to be on top things, at all times. And manual, paper-based processes by nature do not allow for this.
To establish an accounts receivable system that ensures an organised and accurate process, businesses need to digitise and centralise debtors’ documents, including contracts, approvals and forms, for each individual customer or client.
SigniFlow Portfolios is a customer portal, where all debtors account applications, onboarding processes, renewals, invoices, statements, etc are sent, signed off, managed and stored – easily referenced and easily retrievable at any time.
Plus, when sending documents for signature, you have the option of setting automatic reminders. Which is handy, when you consider that 59% of overdue invoices require three or more follow ups before they’re settled (according to tax & accounting services firm, MYOB). That’s a lot of time wasted on menial tasks by finance department team members, whose expertise should really be better spent.
This centralised system reduces manual hours, misspent time, and human errors significantly.
Compliance in Accounts Payable
Accounts payable is another area in which manual processes are way too lengthy and resource intensive. Errors cannot afford to be made in this environment, where compliance is of utmost importance.
A manual process would typically involve the following:
- The procurement team requests several quotations.
- A quotation is accepted.
- Quotation must be explicitly approved, signed and sent to the relevant supplier, usually via the less-than-secure means of email.
- An order is placed based on the above.
- The finance team raises a purchase order based on the accepted quotation,
- Once the goods or service have been delivered, the store’s finance team receives an invoice.
- The invoice must then be approved and signed off by the relevant manager/department and allocated to the correct cost centre.
- Once the above has been actioned, only then can the invoice be captured on the ERP system.
- Depending on the company compliance and processing procedures, as well as the terms with the relevant supplier, the invoice can be sent for direct payment approval, or will form part of a batch that will in turn form part of the creditor reconciliation and processed as per terms.
- The above would need to be signed off by the head of finance personnel, who would generally print, sign, scan, and email.
Any error along the way during the above protracted process could mean huge delays, disputes and negative reputational consequences.
With SigniFlow, the process would go as follows:
- A portfolio is created, where:
- Quotes requested by procurement would are easily accessible for all in the portfolio to ensure that the best price, supplier etc has been awarded the order.
- Purchase orders are approved, signed, and sent directly to the relevant supplier through SigniFlow.
- The invoice is uploaded and sent for sign off by the department that received the goods or service (SigniFlow allows for this invoice to be input and workflowed from the portfolio – rather than the old manual way of paperwork shifting from desk to desk for the relevant approvals).
- Any supporting documents can be uploaded at the same time, stored in the same portfolio
- Once signed off, finance can process the expense.
The above process, using SigniFlow, significantly reduces the possibility of error and creates a complete audit trail of the process – and compliance is sorted.
Month-end sign off with easy referencing for audits
Auditing is a complex process, which requires a lot of time and energy under the best of circumstances. Throw in error-ridden manual processes with paper strewn across files and offices, and you have a total nightmare on your hands.
Unfortunately, audits are unavoidable – but inaccuracies and disorganisation are not.
SigniFlow allows finance teams to complete daily and monthly sign offs of all adjusting/processing entries and reconciliations within the company as and when required, storing all the relevant supporting documentation together for ease of access (bank recons, creditor recons, payment approvals, GL approvals, etc).
Additionally, all management reports/management packs can be sent to the relevant directors, managers or stakeholders within the organisation for review and sign off, without the need to be in the office or to meet face to face.
Organisations can assemble and standardise all company data for use by auditors in a single portal. This digital organisation of data assists auditors with annual risk assessments, and detailed reports – making auditing faster and easier for finance teams, auditors and everyone involved in their processes.
- Gartner – Top priorities for finance leaders in 2020
- KPMG – The changing role of the Chief Financial Officer
- MYOB – Payment reminders: the data on debtor management
- Moula – How to collect unpaid invoices
- South African Institute of Chartered Accountants – Guidance on the CEO/FD sign-off on internal financial control
- The CPA Journal – The truth about workpaper sign offs
- Spend Matters – 7 Simple ways to control, automate your accounts payable
- Myob – How accounts receivable improves after automation
- Deloitte – https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ca/Documents/finance/ca-en-FA-strategies-for-optimizing-your-accounts-receivable.pdf
- ResearchGate – SMB Automation of accounts payable and accounts receivable