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We take a look at the various business benefits to be had by automating month-end

Month-end is the bugbear of many an accounting team, which isn’t surprising when you consider the problems it can cause. Most organisations are still using manual methods to manage finance processes, which in itself is a cause of major headaches. Done manually, month-end is basically a data gathering exercise, where the data is received in different formats, from different sources, at different times. In other words, a necessary business function that’s peppered with potential potholes into which the accounting team can fall.

Not only is the whole process extremely time consuming, but there’s often little or no uniformity of procedure, which leads to inevitable gaps, duplications and errors. In the world of finance, what can initially seem to be a minor discrepancy, can quickly escalate into a major problem with serious consequences for the organisation. That’s not to mention the need to comply with ever-changing legislation and regulations, and any overarching business requirements, to ensure quality and reduce risk.

What if there was a magic solution to take away all this month end woe? Well, it might not be a cure for all business ills, but by automating financial processes, month-end becomes a whole lot easier for everyone involved, and the organisation as a whole benefits in numerous ways.

The main benefit to be had through automation is that month-end becomes less of an all-consuming event and more of an ongoing business process. Rather than days of stress and overtime surrounding month-end, automation software will ensure everything is done in real-time, throughout the month. This means that the information can be gathered much earlier and the whole process becomes more efficient, and therefore less time-hungry. This time can then be reinvested back into the business to focus on more valuable, strategic activities.

When it comes to risk, automation has an equally vital role to play. When automated financial processes are in place, fraud is virtually eradicated. This is partly due to the unprecedented visibility that financial automation affords an organisation. There really is nowhere to hide within this one-world view of accounting. The comprehensive dashboards, which are part and parcel of a good accounting solution, highlight not only what has and hasn't been done, but also how things have been done. Automation provides both the confidence and the control needed for organisations to mitigate risk and maintain their reputations.

Abandoning manual processes surrounding finance can also pave the way for future organisational growth. Not only does a more holistic view of the business enable decision-makers to get a better handle on steering the business to future success, but an organisation with automated financial systems in place is a much more attractive proposition for merger activity. Growth via mergers and acquisitions can be greatly inhibited by using manual processes. By law, following any M&A activity, finance teams and processes have to be amalgamated quickly, something which is far easier said than done when dealing with manual processes, but a relatively simple step when automated systems are in place.

In the past, a general sense of apathy or a perceived inflated cost may have prevented organisations from automating their accounting processes. In terms of cost, going to a purpose-built, modern financial solution is easier and less expensive than you would think, with cloud hosting helping to ensure the best software is now accessible to those previously unable to afford it. Plus when you consider all the benefits to be had, apathy just isn't an option if businesses are serious about improving their financials. The playing field is wide open and those who don’t take full advantage will be agonising over month-end for the foreseeable future.

If you are contemplating making the shift, it is important to ensure you select the right solution:

  1. Talk to your finance team, what do they see as the issues to overcome?
  2. Understand your accounting needs. No one company is the same.
  3. Find a supplier who understands your industry and the problems you’re trying to solve.
  4. Make sure you get the right fit – one size definitely does not fit all, and the needs of a large corporate will inevitably differ from those of a SME.
  5. Most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean the best. Choose the solution that you feel comfortable with.

Find out more about how Sapphire can help with financial automation, or contact us today.

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