Finance Workflows – When is the Best Time to Start?

Arunkumar Balakrishnan

April 4th, 2018 workflow  

Pablo owns a business that is rapidly growing in scale – like 10x growth from last year. But with this explosion, one area he hasn’t planned for is the finance department. Like many new CEOs, he assumed that larger sales didn’t necessarily mean more work for the finance team, just adding more zeros onto their numbers.

But with more people making purchase orders, an increasing number of vendors, more employees, and implementing department budgets, he quickly became aware of the need for more help.

Pablo’s first thought was to hire more people. But his CFO, Anita, said that she thought the same team could handle the load if they could use more automation. Pablo already had a pretty sophisticated marketing automation plan, but hadn’t thought about finances before.

Is now the right time for automated finances? Or is Pablo’s company too early? Or too late?

Automation is Laying the Groundwork for Growth

Most business owners think of automation as something that you should do once you’ve achieved some stability in your growth. But that’s a common mistake. You should be automating while you are growing, and even before. When you create automated finance workflows even when you still small, you are creating the infrastructure that will let your company scale.

Anita approached Pablo about her plans, she realized that by laying out some automated plans, her team could focus on more high-level work while the machines took care of all the data transfers and journal entries.  

Another reason to start automating sooner is that it will get harder and harder to automate once you’ve grown to a certain size. Your habits get stuck in place, and you often have more people than you need who might feel threatened by the automation.

Start Building Your Hybrid Team

If everytime you encounter a problem as a business owner, you think about hiring someone, you are being honest about the future of work. As businesses like Pablo’s continue to evolve, they need to build a team of both systems and humans. Some tasks are going to be handled best by humans and others by software.

Anita can start to put together a plan for the future by identifying all the tasks that rely exclusively on humans. Then, she can also develop a strategy for how to bring in the automated side of the team that handles the other work.

The key to succeeding in the age of automation is the reduction of friction between humans and machines. The sooner Anita can put together her team, the sooner the humans can get used to working with systems and the better everyone can learn what works best.

Get the Cost Savings Now

When Anita recommends to Pablo to try out financial workflow automation, she’s not asking him to dump a lot of money into a sunk cost. In fact, automation can be a big saver.

When compared to the cost of recruiting, training, and paying, a new employee, the price of workflow automation is pretty miniscule. The sooner automation starts, the more effective it will be and the more savings you will get from it.

A good automation platform can cost a fraction of the $400 that you’d otherwise be spending.

Invest in Saved Time  

Another thing Pablo needs to consider is the time that Anita’s finance department spends on their work. If they have to spend several hours to process a single approval, or if they are finding it hard to keep up because of the amount of busywork, they are spending too much time.

An automated finance workflow can do things a lot faster than hiring and training new staff. Anita’s team spends a lot of time creating folders and journal entries that they could spend on other activities that are much more productive.  

Avoid Needless Mistakes

The element of human error is something that is unavoidable for everything that a human does. But that doesn’t mean Pablo or Anita should accept it and take it in stride, especially when it comes to finance.

Human errors can be time consuming and expensive. By automating the workflow of finance departments, you don’t have to worry about human errors. Everything is calculated by a machine, leaving no room for errors. Adding this kind of automation makes sense to do early on as the advantages are instantaneous.

People Are Forgetful

The final reason Anita can give Pablo to start up an automated solution right now is that doing finance approvals through paper forms and emails is hard to track and people can be forgetful.

Paper forms can be easily lost in a huge pile of other requests. Emails are confusing. You don’t know what’s happening where. You could suddenly be pulled into the middle of an email thread, with no information of the whole situation.

These are places where automated finance workflow processes can be useful. You’ll always have a full record of the whole thread. There’s no confusing mess of messages to read through, and all necessary data is organized in a way that’s easy for you to pull up.

Conclusion

Pablo underestimated how much his finance team was going to grow, but that doesn’t mean he has to make a mistake by hiring a lot more people to pick up the slack. Instead, he can take Anita’s advice and invest in automation. The finance department is a place where mistakes can be extremely expensive. Whether it’s a late payment to a vendor or a miscalculation in an invoice, automation can fix all of these problems. Finance workflows in products like KiSSFLOW are also pre-built, ready to use. With this, you don’t even need to set up anything. Plug and play, and you’re good to go.