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Automation, Analytics and Accuracy the Top 3 Priorities—and Challenges—for Finance Teams

May 11, 2020 |

A recent report from consulting firm KPMG reveals that investing in automation tools, improving data accuracy and expanding analytics capabilities are the three most pressing strategic initiatives for finance teams today. But the same report also reveals that most organizations are not tackling these initiatives successfully.

The KPMG survey polled 859 finance and operations executives from various companies around the world. When asked to identify their most important priorities, 36% of respondents cited “investing in intelligent automation to improve finance effectiveness.” An additional 34% said that “improving planning and forecasting accuracy” was a top priority, and 36% said “investing in data and analytics to provide enterprise-wide insights.”

However, when asked to rank the success rates of the exact same initiatives, only 25% of respondents said they were successfully improving the accuracy of their plans and forecasts. “Investing in data and analytics” was the same, with 25% considering it a successful project. The biggest variance was in the “investing in intelligent automation to improve finance effectiveness” response—where just 22% marked it as a successful initiative for their teams.

How to Close the Gap and Achieve Your Strategic Finance Goals

While the challenges that finance teams face on this front can’t be ignored, it’s clear that there’s a success gap here, and the importance of closing that gap cannot be overstated. As modern finance leaders embrace their new roles as strategic partners to the business, the need for real-time access to reliable, up-to-date financial data will continue to increase. Finance teams are now being called upon to deliver actionable, company-wide insights that will shape key business decisions and set the stage for long-term growth—which is achievable with the right process automation and planning tools. 

But modern tools are only the starting point on the path toward a more agile finance function. Finding true success with these tools also requires a more strategic, collaborative and forward-thinking approach from the teams that use them every day. 

Read on to discover three keys to success with process automation and advanced data analytics:

1. Integrate Your Data for Greater Transparency and Collaboration

In order for finance teams to achieve a holistic view of their data and identify key business drivers across every function of the business, they need to have a single source of truth for all core finance and operational planning processes. With all the data they need within one system—including sales data from the CRM, transactional data from the ERP and employee data from the HRIS—finance leaders can eliminate data silos, focus on the big picture and give non-finance stakeholders a seat at the table during the strategic planning process.

Seamless integrations also help to automate the error-prone process of transferring data manually, allowing leaders to maintain more accurate forecasts and business plans. So, if you’re looking to make the most of your investment in a modern tool, make sure all the data integrations that you need are easily supported.

2. Enable Agile Forecasting

Strategic finance leaders are constantly looking ahead and charting the course for their organizations with the most up-to-date data available. Agile forecasting beyond the traditional budgeting process allows finance leaders to model future scenarios, easily analyze variances and better understand how the choices they make today will affect the bottom line tomorrow.

Regular reforecasting—especially with forecasts that are generated automatically—also helps finance leaders learn from experience and hone in on the KPIs that are most important to their business. If you’re trying to improve planning and forecasting accuracy with automation and advanced analytics, agile forecasting functionality should be a crucial consideration.

3. Measure the Value of Your Investment Over Time

There’s no denying that process automation and advanced analytics projects are significant investments of time, money and people power. That’s why finance teams need to fully understand the value they’re delivering and measure that value as the organization continues to grow.

By keeping a firm pulse on the benefits of your automation and data accuracy initiatives—whether it’s efficiency gains, cost savings or an elevated role for non-finance teamsyou’ll always feel more confident in your numbers and think more proactively about opportunities for strategic improvement. And if you’re among the finance leaders who consider this a top priority, perhaps you’ll develop some new criteria for what success looks like at your organization as well.

Learn how to find success with process automation and advanced data analytics so you can plan confidently for today and tomorrow.

Read the full KPMG report here.

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