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4 Financial Workflows You Haven't Thought To Automate

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You're a director or manager of finance. You know how much work you have on your plate. You also know what's coming down the pipeline. And for those reasons, you can't shake the feeling that financial workflow automation could be the answer to many of your challenges

Here are just a handful of the many benefits of workflow automation:

  • Reduced labor costs
  • Increased efficiency of task management
  • Improved communication between team members throughout the company
  • Increased scalability of workflows
  • Improved accountability

You get the point. There's no shortage of benefits. Financial workflow automation has the power to turn your company upside down--in a good way, of course.

While you may have automated some financial tasks to date, there's a good chance you've come up short in other areas. Let's review four financial workflows you haven't thought to automate, but should, as soon as possible.

Budget Approvals

Think about how much time you spend on budget approvals. This process spans every department, from sales to marketing to customer service. Every day, week and/or month, you receive expense requests from every nook and cranny of your company.

Without timely budget approvals, some departments may suffer. The problem with this is that the budget approval process is traditionally lengthy and complicated. And not because the process is difficult to understand. It's a result of how many people have their hands on the process. 

Outlining the budget approval process sounds like a simple solution, but all that does is add more steps and stress. By automating the budget approval process, you can:

  • Define steps that every person and department must take to obtain approval
  • Pull all pertinent information into one central location
  • Keep records of budget approval requests, decisions and contributions made by all parties

Finally, you can add parameters as to the types of requests that you automate. For example, budget requests of $5K or less go through one process while those that are more than $5K require manual verification and approval.

Expense Reimbursement

Just the same as budget approvals, expense reimbursements have a way of piling up. And if you wait too long to process them, you'll also have an angry group of employees who are wondering when they'll get their money back.

With a traditional approach, employees will submit reimbursement forms via email or maybe even in person. Both of these are inefficient as you're not collecting forms in a central location.

Expense reimbursement automation can be as simple as the following:

  • Activate the reimbursement process with a single trigger, such as the submission of the required form(s)
  • Automatically send requests to predetermined personnel for approval, based on conditions such as department and reimbursement amount
  • Set notifications to keep the employee informed as to where their request stands

The key to a successful expense reimbursement system is to collect the necessary forms in the same manner, every time. And that's exactly what happens when you create an automated system.

Invoice Management

Does your company purchase products or services from vendors? If so, an automated invoice management system can eliminate headaches, save you time and ensure that your vendors get paid in full and on time.

For many companies, invoice management means receiving invoices from vendors--typically via email or mail--passing them off to the accounts payable department and paying them one at a time.

Automated invoice management is the new way of doing things. Here's how it works:

  • Request that vendors submit invoices in a specified manner, such as email
  • Activate the workflow with a trigger, such as receiving an invoice via email from a vendor
  • Automatically send requests to the proper individuals or departments for approval
  • Alert the vendor as to the stage of the process, such as "invoice received" and "processing"
  • Automatically update invoice status, such as unpaid, processing or paid

Invoice management requires automation. Even if you only receive a handful of invoices each month, automating the process will benefit both you and your vendors.

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Fixed Asset Purchases

Fixed asset purchases are difficult to track as these vary by cost, the requesting party and the number of people required for approval.

For example, depending on the department or amount, there may be a specific person who needs to sign off on the approval.

Traditionally, fixed asset purchases worked like this:

  • A department or employee files an initial request
  • All involved parties communicate on matters such as the need to purchase the asset, the vendor and ways to save money, among other details
  • Final approval (or denial) is given

Now, let's think about what happens if you automate the asset purchase workflow:

  • Requesting parties are given a central location for submitting purchase proposals
  • All applicable and required information is collected from the requestor before it reaches the review stage
  • Approval is streamlined since all information is collected upfront

With this approach, there's no back and forth communication. Instead, the requester shares the information needed to make the decision and it's immediately routed to the person staffed with reviewing it.

You can add as many variables as you want, such as requiring special approval for purchases over a specific dollar amount.


Financial workflow automation is every bit as powerful as it sounds. The more tasks you automate, the easier it is to take advantage of benefits such as reduced costs, time savings and enhanced communication.

Are you ready to get started? 


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