Here’s How Finance Automation Can Empower Growth for Mid-market Businesses

28 December, 2023
4 min
Bill Sarda, Chief of Staff, Digital Transformation

Table of Content

Key Takeaways
Introduction
The Evolution of Finance in Mid-Market Companies
Why Embracing Finance Automation Is a Win-Win for Mid-Size Businesses
6 Key Technologies Driving Finance Automation
The Future of Finance Automation
Steps to Prepare Your Business to Embrace Finance Automation
Conclusion
FAQs

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Key Takeaways

  • Embracing finance automation can lower costs, improve efficiency, and provide a competitive edge for mid-size businesses.
  • Automation is a key component that can simplify corporate finance processes, reduce errors, and provide deeper insights into financial data.
  • To prepare for finance automation, mid-size businesses need to invest in the right technology solutions that leverage automation, AI, IoT, and blockchain.
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Introduction

Amidst today’s economic turbulence, where factors like inflation and recession loom large, the finance team shoulders the responsibility of safeguarding the bottom line, especially in mid-sized companies. The organization’s future heavily relies on the team’s success. Within the finance department, numerous time-consuming tasks such as document review, invoice reconciliation, and payment processing demand attention. Automating these tasks can not only free up staff for other essential work but also mitigate the risks of errors that could lead to further time and monetary losses.

Finance automation presents a transformative solution for mid-market businesses, offering a means to elevate their financial processes significantly. Leveraging finance automation tools doesn’t just minimize error risks but also accelerates financial workflows. This translates into faster decision-making cycles and heightened adaptability within a constantly evolving market landscape.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the nuances of automating finance functions, uncovering how it serves as a catalyst for success in the dynamic sphere of mid-market businesses. Stay tuned to explore how this innovative approach can revolutionize your business’s financial management, fostering efficiency, precision, and sustained growth.

The Evolution of Finance in Mid-Market Companies

In the era of Finance 4.0, mid-market CFOs find themselves at the forefront of a digital revolution. This new wave harnesses cutting-edge technologies like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and blockchain to reshape crucial finance functions such as treasury management, budgeting, financial planning & analysis, and order-to-cash management.

Traditionally seen as meticulous record keepers, finance departments handled order books, receipts, cash balances, and annual reports. However, the adoption of finance automation tools has transformed finance leaders into strategic experts. Now, they can guide businesses through modernization, market expansion, and growth while effectively managing costs and the bottom line.

Over the centuries, the finance function has undergone a remarkable transformation. Today, mid-market CFOs are uniquely positioned to leverage technological advancements, especially in the realm of automation in the finance industry. Finance 4.0 empowers them to use automation and AI, streamlining financial processes and minimizing errors. This not only enhances efficiency but also liberates valuable time for CFOs to concentrate on strategic initiatives, paving the way for substantial business growth.

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Why Embracing Finance Automation Is a Win-Win for Mid-Size Businesses

Embracing finance automation is a game-changer for mid-size businesses, presenting a golden opportunity to elevate financial operations and gain a competitive edge. Let’s explore the key benefits that make this transition a win-win for all involved:

1. Cost savings and streamlined efficiency

Finance automation introduces digital technologies that significantly cut costs and enhance efficiency. Online software solutions automate tasks like invoicing, AR and AP management, payroll, and cash flow forecasting. This not only reduces costs but liberates finance teams to concentrate on strategic initiatives. Intelligent automation can slash costs by up to 75%, allowing finance professionals to dedicate more time to high-value tasks.

2. Enhanced client experience

Client experience is paramount in any successful business, and finance teams play a pivotal role in delivering a positive interaction. With finance workflow automation, mid-size businesses can modernize their operations, refining invoicing and payment processes to minimize late payments and eliminate redundant payment methods. This contributes to an improved overall client experience, bolstering the company’s brand image.

3. Competitive edge

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, gaining a competitive advantage is crucial for survival. Leveraging data analytics and other technologies provides mid-size businesses with valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and key indicators. Informed decision-making, precise investment planning, and accurate business metric forecasting become possible, allowing mid-size businesses to stay ahead and compete with larger enterprises.

4. Enhanced employee experience

Automation in the finance department isn’t just about external benefits—it also enhances the internal landscape. By equipping finance teams with the right finance automation system, mid-size businesses can alleviate the burden of mundane tasks, empowering employees to focus on more meaningful work. This boost in employee morale contributes to improved retention rates and attracts top talent to the organization.

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6 Key Technologies Driving Finance Automation

The emergence of finance automation is largely driven by technological advancements that are transforming the way finance departments operate. Here are six key technologies that are driving finance automation:

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1. Cloud

Cloud technology provides companies with on-demand computing, data storage, and network capabilities. This helps reduce capital expenses (CAPEX). For finance teams, the cloud offers a means of automating their processes at lower costs.

2. Robotic process automation

RPA solutions help automate specific tasks such as checking emails for payment receipts, matching data records, or sending recurring communications. RPA is often considered the first step that finance executives take to automate processes.

3. Artificial intelligence

Like RPA, AI and machine learning tools also help automate processes. But unlike RPA that are coded only to accomplish specific tasks, AI tools continuously learn with new datasets and adapt to any deviations from the core process as needed.

4. Internet of things

Today data, including corporate finance data, is spread over multiple sources including physical devices such as computers, machinery, etc. IoT technologies connect these physical objects so that you no longer have to scout for data but have the objects connect with each other over wireless channels for data sharing. For example, your finance app preparing your balance sheet can connect with sensors on your industrial equipment to get data on depreciation.

5. Blockchain

Blockchain technology, though still in its nascent stages, is expected to help in financial reporting, ledger management, and payments. Its immutability makes it a preferred method to build trust, reduce errors, and eliminate fraud.

6. Data analytics and visualization

Data is vital to any function today. The volume of data generated and processed exponentially rises with each year. Tools that help analyze data and share insights via easy-to-comprehend charts are one of the most needed technologies for finance teams.

The Future of Finance Automation

Finance automation is all about embracing digital technologies to streamline finance processes and drive business growth. Automation is a key component of this transformation, and it is already transforming the financial industry in many ways. Let’s look at some corporate finance processes that technology has helped simplify. These are finance automation use cases that you can easily adopt:

Function or Process area Traditional teams Finance 4.0 teams
Reconciliation Manually check records to match data. Error-prone and time-consuming. AI or RPA-powered tools match records from multiple sources quickly and more accurately.
Data entry Enter data from multiple sources by hand to a digital system or paper records. AI tools capture relevant data directly from multiple formats including paper records, photos, emails, and websites without any human intervention.
Reporting Manually browse multiple records and data sources to build financial reports on spreadsheets. Automate report creation with pre-defined templates using RPA tools to capture data and record it correctly.
Accounts receivables Manually prepare invoices and contact customers to track payment status. High DSO and bad debt ratio. Automate invoice creation and delivery as well as dunning processes. Prioritize collections worklists and reduce DSO and bad debt ratio using autonomous solutions like HighRadius’ Integrated Receivables solution.

Looking to the future, the possibilities of automation in finance are endless. As AI and machine learning continue to advance, finance teams can expect to see even more sophisticated automation tools that can handle complex tasks and provide even deeper insights into financial data.

Steps to Prepare Your Business to Embrace Finance Automation

As businesses gear up for the transformative era of finance automation, strategic preparations become essential. Here are crucial steps to guide your business in embracing this technological shift:

1. Realign your finance team’s mission and strategy

To embrace finance automation, a shift in mindset is imperative. Modern CFOs should position the finance team as profit drivers and value creators for sustainable growth, moving beyond the traditional role of bookkeepers. Automation allows finance functions, like accounts receivables, to ascend the value chain, opening doors to new opportunities.

2. Upskill and reskill your team

Equip your team with the necessary skills for the digital age. Provide training in the latest finance automation systems and complementary skill sets such as data science, communication, and innovation. This ensures that your team is ready for responsibilities beyond the conventional scope of finance functions.

3. Invest in finance automation tools

At the core of finance automation lies the use of technology to streamline everyday financial tasks. To successfully embrace this transformation, invest in digital technology strategically. Avoid haphazard additions to legacy systems, as they can lead to complexity, security issues, and integration challenges. Consider a digital core that can scale with your business needs and adapt to evolving tech landscapes.

4. Stay abreast of competition and market trends

Maintain a keen awareness of the latest technology advancements and understand how your industry peers are responding to them. Conduct pilot studies and trial launches to explore how technological changes can benefit your business, keeping you ahead in the competitive landscape.

5. Identify the right tech partners for finance automation

Choosing the right tech partner is pivotal for success in finance automation. Seek partners who comprehend your business needs and can guide you in identifying and implementing the right technology efficiently and cost-effectively. Whether through tech consulting firms, software providers, or IT service providers, select partners who align with your goals and timelines.

In essence, gearing up for finance automation involves a strategic blend of mindset shifts and technology adoption. By following these steps, your business can pave the way for a seamless transition into the era of automated finance, unlocking new possibilities for growth and efficiency.

Conclusion

The significance of finance automation for mid-market businesses lies in its ability to revolutionize financial processes. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, businesses can not only reduce costs and enhance efficiency but also gain a competitive edge. 

As we look to the future, the role of automation in finance is poised to play an even more transformative role. The use of AI and machine learning is set to bring about more sophisticated tools, capable of handling complex tasks and providing deeper insights into financial data. The possibilities are limitless, offering businesses the potential for continuous growth and innovation.

In this landscape of finance automation, HighRadius offers autonomous software solutions designed to transform the office of the CFO. Our integrated receivables solutions, powered by AI capabilities, redefine order-to-cash and receivables processes. By leveraging our solutions, finance teams can streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and gain invaluable insights into their financial data. 

At HighRadius, we’re not just embracing the era of finance automation; we’re leading the way in helping mid-market businesses thrive in this transformative journey. Explore the future of your finance operations with HighRadius and unlock the full potential of finance automation.

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FAQs

1. What is an example of financial automation?

Financial automation involves using software and technology to streamline financial processes. An example is automating invoice processing, where software automatically captures, verifies, and records invoice data, reducing manual effort, minimizing errors, and improving efficiency.

2. What is intelligent automation in finance?

Intelligent automation in finance combines artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to perform complex tasks. It uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to make data-driven decisions, enhancing efficiency in financial processes like data analysis, decision-making, and workflow automation.

3. How is AI used in finance?

AI in finance is employed for tasks like fraud detection, risk management, and customer service. Machine learning algorithms analyze vast datasets, predicting market trends, automating trading, and enhancing decision-making. AI optimizes financial operations, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

4. What is the impact of automation on the finance industry?

Automation streamlines operations, reducing manual errors and enhancing efficiency. It accelerates processes like invoicing, payroll, and data analysis, allowing for quicker decision-making. It also improves cost-effectiveness, client experiences, and competitiveness in the financial industry.

5. What is automation of finance processes?

Automating finance processes uses technology to handle repetitive financial tasks like invoicing and payroll. It boosts efficiency, minimizes errors, and allows finance professionals to concentrate on strategic activities.

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