How to digitise and future-proof finance in the new normal

27th May 2020
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Many business leaders think we are only a third of the way through the Coronavirus crisis. CFO’s, Financial Controllers and Accountants need to quickly embrace digitisation into the heart of their business which will be key to building the foundations to a survive-and-thrive strategy. 

You can be up and running with most small to mid-range cloud systems in a matter of days or weeks.  But choose carefully so you have a system that will meet you needs for the next 5 years or more. Your cloud accounting system should 1) be accessible from anywhere through a browser, 2) be fully hosted, 3) have user support included, 4) include user profiling and audit tracking features and 5) have full back-ups and be updated regularly and automatically. It’s important that the system can scale as your business evolves and grows. 

How to digitise and future-proof your finance function:

1. Go Cloud – get a real cloud accounting system that is right for your business as early as you can. Not one that is too basic or dials into a hosted solution or across a VPN. It’s that simple and you can be up and running in less than a week if you want to.  This will be the most important decision the finance team makes in the next 6 to 12 months, so don’t delay. 

2. API Economy – get familiar with what API’s are and how they can help your business on day one and as it grows.  An API is an Application Programming Interface that allows two systems to connect securely and exchange information.  Examples that affect all businesses today are Making Tax Digital and Open Banking.  Both use standard APIs that allow your accounting system to communicate VAT and Bank transactions with a relevant 3rd party. 

3. Automate Capture – Focus the team on automation [i.e. getting data into and out of the system with minimal keystrokes and rework]. This can be done using simple OCR connectors for supplier invoices, payroll connectors, and Point of Sale, CRM, Power BI and many other third party systems.

4. Connect your Banks – connect your bank accounts so that transactions can be matched and reconciled every day to give a true working capital position to management daily and weekly. Also, ensure you can pay suppliers using a payment function that automates the allocation of payments and a direct debit system to collect money from customers.

5. Adopt productivity features – digital wins are small projects that are easy to test and bank small successes for the team.  Some examples: implementing purchase ordering, approval workflow, expense capture, a fixed asset register.  All will save you time every month, so the investment payback is really significant.  It also gives Finance teams social currency as influencers and advocates of change across the business.

6. Real-time Reporting – Make sure you have the ability to report all the financial and business intelligence information to the management team and other team leads that need data to be effective.  This means being able to report a view across a group, by company, by sector, area, department, project etc.  All these reports should be visible from your Cloud FMS in real time and not exported and re-worked in Excel by one of the team.  There is no need to do that anymore and you can also use external reporting tools like Power BI that use API connections to stay in real-time contact with your Cloud FMS.

What should finance teams be doing right now?

1. People – Really look after your employees and your customers. These are the most important people to your business and the ones that will help it thrive as we come out of this crisis;

2. Data – Carry out scenario planning using good data across all aspects of the business so you have prepared actions as and when new information emerges;

3. Communication – Report key metrics daily and weekly and talk to all stakeholders in the business as often as required;

4. Technology – look at where you can add and replace technology so you can emerge fitter than before the crisis;

5. Divest – Get rid of cost that you believe is neither necessary, nor will not add value in the future;

6. Invest – Play offensive in your thinking.  Digitise all you can in your business model.  The technology is there.   

Join our webinar

How to Digitally Transform the Finance Function​ - This Webinar gives you advice from our COO, Darren Cran and Fiona McKenna, Co-Founder and CFO at Fourtheorem, as to how to digitally transform your finance function along with some hints and tips as to what businesses can do now to help them thrive in the post-Covid-19 landscape.

Thurs 4th June, 11am BST - sign up here

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If you would like a chat about your Cloud accounting requirements, get in touch on +44 (0) 203 598 7350 or email [email protected] or request a quote.

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