How finance becomes a ‘value’ department

abstract image | Finance

Finance is where the money is, obviously. But like many of our core workplace functions, the finance department of today is evolving to become a more holistic and more human workflow and customer outcomes-driven entity. 

Throughout the process of reinventing itself, the modern finance team is starting to realize that it can get more directly involved with team challenges, departmental goals and business projects at a more market-facing level. The accounting team will still be there for payroll, procurement and expenses, but they also now have the opportunity to go beyond these core tasks and get involved in the strategic direction of an organization’s operational remit and role. 

In the past, it was typically only the chief finance officer who was able to interact with the sales team leaders, the research and development unit, the customer care division and of course the wider C-suite management board. We can now involve the entire finance team in the effort to support global growth, achieve profitability and provide strategic direction to a business in every industry vertical. 


Intelligently automated finance 

This kind of progression is only possible if an organization adopts an intelligently automated financial process solution. Born in and of the cloud-native technologies that are now propelling start-ups and established multinationals alike, this is the use of enterprise software to elevate a finance department upwards out of ‘simply’ focusing on transaction processing. This is the chance for finance to work directly with analysis and action. 

By using deeply embedded machine learning (ML) algorithm tools, organizations can now automatically ingest business event data and continuously process that information to look for trends and signals plus anomalies and outliers. The finance team can then make recommendations for action. While some actions will remain the purview of the finance department, others will form task items impacting every corner of an organization. 

At the core of this type of enterprise technology is ML, every application of which is designed to automate and accelerate financial department workforce workflows. Embedded at the core, ML in this regard is able to accelerate aspects such as customer payment matching and spend recommendations through AI-enabled optical character recognition. 

Stakeholders inside the business can see the information being surfaced and execute and manage business actions accordingly. Using an enterprise software system designed to deliver these insights, the same software should also be able to provide undefeatable electronic evidence to document every transaction that occurs. 


Beyond botched best-guessing 

Traditional enterprise finance solutions might be able to weave together some of these functions separately, forming joins across disparate systems and stitching together a part of these processes. Frontline managers and employees are then faced with the challenge of attempting to interpret displaced alerts and confused signals. Business decisions are then often taken too slowly, inaccurately or based on best-guess estimations.  

Contemporary enterprise finance solutions don’t suffer from these disconnects. They provide a complete approach to transaction processing, multidimensional reporting, consolidation, planning and compliance. When all of this is delivered as a consistent user experience accessible across all desktop or mobile devices, a new tier of competitive advantage is possible.  

Finance as a value dept 

The enterprise cloud-empowered finance department is now able to achieve greater insight, improve financial consolidation and reduce its crucial ‘time to close’ window on all transaction permutations, contracts and audit responsibilities. 

By making use of in-memory computing to combine core financial management applications with HCM, spend management, planning and analytics, an organization is now able to operate its financial systems of record in real-time with deep insight into all aspects of the business. 

The journey here has taken us from double-entry bookkeeping, sales dockets and invoices right through to automated cloud-native machine intelligence engineered to steer businesses through change and disruption in any eventuality. The finance department of tomorrow will still approve your expenses and pay you your salary – as long as you ask nicely – but now it will also add value to every business transaction and process on the front line, top line and of course on the bottom line.