A chief financial officer (CFO) is generally bombarded with various responsibilities, having to multi-task efficiently, provide compulsory guidance for many people in the finance sector, and develop a foreknowledge as to what the future holds, financially. Metrics, targets, and indicators are to be achieved as well, which begs the question: how is a CFO supposed to manage this miraculous feat of fulfilling such a multitude of duties?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a major boon for finance departments and their CFOs because it analyzes data quicker, closes the accounting books sooner, and is, for the most part, impressively error-free.
Beth Zastawny, a CFO in the manufacturing sector with more than 15 years of experience within the role, explains some of the notable benefits that automation offers.
Time and Flexibility
CFOs work in a competitive field, an environment where time is essential and fast. Logical decisions can put CFOs in an advantageous position ahead of competitors, Beth Zastawny states. Automation ensures that enterprises can execute effective solutions swiftly, with processes being potentially established in a matter of weeks. Processes such as billing, management reporting, general accounting, and budgeting can see a reduction of up to 46% in time and costs, according to PWC’s Finance Effectiveness Benchmark Report of 2017.
A company’s CFO can adapt the robotic process automation(RPA) to suit its changing needs, expanding it when demand rises and reducing it when the volume returns to normal. Regardless of how or why you utilize it, an RPA allows you to focus resources on other pressing requirements and gain great insight into a market that can be quite unpredictable.
Organized and Trustworthy
When properly maintained, automation is a dependable component of a workplace, Beth Zastawny says. On a consistent, 24/7 basis, they complete the more tedious and repetitive processes that are prone to error when assigned to humans. With minimal maintenance, accuracy and data reliability are enhanced, particularly when the bots are constantly functioning at top levels. When procedures can assure you of this, then your company becomes modernized to a degree that improves the overall quality and reduces costs. Quite the win-win situation for a CFO, wouldn’t you say?
Sometimes, busy schedules or enormous workloads can lead a CFO to consider outsourcing certain needs, Beth Zastawny says. Many businesses prefer to enforce an in-house policy though, preventing outside forces from possibly uncovering valuable information that could prove problematic. Before the introduction of automation, organizations were frequently reliant on outsourcing specific processes because the alternative, which was increasing staff to comfortably perform those functions, was too costly.
Now, RPAs afford a CFO the luxury of expanding in-house capabilities and assigning working demands entirely to their teams. Not only can enterprises save on the costs that would have been necessary for outsourcing, but they are also able to preserve total control of their data and methods.
Another reason why a CFO can benefit from implementing automation is a result of its higher levels of security, a feature that removes the need for sensitive data to be shared in a reporting workflow. Crucial data is stored and updated centrally, while the CFO has the ability to control and monitor overall access, permitting employees to only access the data that is relevant to their assignments. Again, this eliminates the hassle of having to contract a third-party provider to be entrusted with vital data. A report from Gartner predicts that public cloud infrastructure, which is data hosted through automated processes, as a service workload will experience at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.
Thanks to the largely superior quality and consistency in output stemming from automation, a company can link data between separate groups, departments, logs, and sources, boosting its capacity to identify and address compliance issues continually before they become an issue. Automation assists a company in staying on its established course, gaining efficiencies and satisfying regulatory guidelines, all without adding to its workforce or labor costs.
Final Thoughts from Beth Zastawny
Studies have indicated a noteworthy correlation between customer experience and key factors like sales growth and profitability. Since an automation process directly contributes to a company’s bottom line and enhances a customer’s experience, a CFO would find it in his or her best interest to apply its useful features.
Accenture’s Finance 2020 report confirms that automation will eradicate as much as 40% of the transactional accounting work that today’s finance departments are tasked with. Having already reshaped the future of work in various sectors, automation will play a tremendous part in further transforming finance and enterprise methodologies determined by a CFO, says Beth Zastawny.
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