Automation allows both finance teams and entire organizations to focus on the bigger picture.
By handling repetitive chores that had been done manually, automation frees the team to spend more time on analysis, talking with customers and other value-added undertakings.
During interviews for the PYMNTS series “A Day in the Life of a Digital-First CFO,” five finance chiefs shared their reasons for implementing automation, the way they went about it and the benefits their companies and customers have seen.
Targeting Things That Drive the Business Forward
One of those mantras is that he and they should automate as many of their tasks as they can and work themselves out of a job. The other is that by automating, they can move on to things that will grow the company, be fun to do and make themselves look good.
“When we do that and get done with the mundane things faster, we can do the things that are going to put bullet points on our resumes,” Colich said. “Those are the things that are going to advance our careers — when we’re working on fun projects that will definitely drive the business forward but also really shape the person’s pride to get the work done.”
Prioritizing the Processes to Be Automated
The rush to digitize the enterprise has created a new role for CFOs, who are now being tasked with prioritizing which processes need to be automated, Airbase CFO Aneal Vallurupalli told PYMNTS in September.
That responsibility has become especially important at high-growth companies, where processes that work today can rapidly become obsolete, sometimes within months or even just weeks.
“One of the biggest benefits we’re seeing now is we’re at a point where we can automate so much of our accounting processes, our spend management side and our sales invoicing,” Vallurupalli said. “And we can do it to the extent that we’re able to drive efficiency and create a better experience for everyone involved.”
Integrating and Connecting Solutions
When making progress toward integration, the priorities should include the ability of technology to not just digitize solutions, but integrate with others, eFileCabinet CFO Jason Wood told PYMNTS in February 2021.
For example, to manage the order-to-cash cycle, eFileCabinet has an array of solutions that surround the Salesforce customer relationship management portal, including technologies for quotes and billing. But in order to automate and streamline the entire order-to-cash cycle, everything from order processing to invoice scheduling must be integrated and connected.
“When we look at a solution, if there’s not already a slick integration into Netsuite and Salesforce, then it’s not going to be a solution that will work for us — regardless of functionality and cost,” Wood said.
Focusing on a Company’s ‘Differentiating Processes’
For each of its customers, intelligent process automation company Bizagi applies digital process automation to what it described as “non-differentiating processes” and “differentiating processes,” Bizagi CFO Paul Argiry told PYMNTS in December.
Argiry said the former are tasks that will not set one business apart from another — for example, a vacation approval process or an order-to-cash process — while the latter are those that really delve into a company’s “secret sauce,” so to speak.
“Generally, clients will have about a dozen or so of those [differentiating processes], and that’s really where we can add value,” Argiry said.
Ensuring You Aren’t Left Behind
Digitization hasn’t just made life easier for Virta Health and the companies it works with; it was really a necessity for the company to grow as fast as it has, Virta Health CFO Alok Bhushan told PYMNTS in October.
“Because of the pace at which venture-backed, high-growth businesses grow, there’s so much you have to invest in to ensure you aren’t left behind,” Bhushan said. “What worked yesterday is not going to work tomorrow unless you’re investing in tools that will help you do five times, 10 times or 50 times more than what you were doing yesterday.”