5 Ways to Improve Your Company's Financial Health in 2022

Does this sound familiar? Your company has managed well enough with the financial systems, tools, and processes that you have had in place for the past several years, but it’s been far from ideal. The finance team often finds itself rushing to complete reports and meet deadlines, with a lot of last-minute panic along the way.

Preparing reports and updating financial forecasts can take up a huge amount of time for CFOs and other finance employees, preventing them from focusing on activities that add value to the business as a whole.

New tech can help with these challenges, but it seems like often, finance is the last in line for advanced tools. Marketing and sales were the first to experiment with clever tools and automated workflows, and although HR was still way behind just two years ago, those teams are now well equipped.

Meanwhile, the finance team seems to still be stuck in the dark ages, using Excel spreadsheets and manual calculations. A study by CFO Research and AppZen found that sharpening analytical skills, improving the ability to identify unnecessary costs and reducing manual processes are the top priorities for business finance teams.

Indeed, the tide is turning. A survey by Unit4 reported that 86% of finance executives expect to upskill, with plans to add artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), coding, analytics, and data science capabilities to their skillsets within the next two years. It’s time to join the movement and transform your company’s financial health and processes, so that you can scale growth in 2022 and beyond.

1. Streamline payroll

Payroll is an immense job, and as your company grows, so does the workload associated with paying talent.

It’s time to ease the burden by introducing an automated tool like Gusto, which can handle time tracking and validation, manage overtime, vacation, and sick day allowances, streamline shift planning, and calculate all the moving parts involved in compensation.

With automated payroll management, everything takes place in a single platform, saving time and cutting the manual errors that creep in when copying information from one location to another. Tools like Gusto can increase transparency around worker compensation, helping reduce friction between employees and increase trust towards the organization.

2. Apply AI to improve forecasting

Forecasting is one of the trickiest jobs for financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams, so it should be one of the first places to apply AI. Richard Ries, VP Advisory at Gartner, points out that “AI can accurately analyze high volumes of data and identify patterns and apply decision rules much faster than people using traditional technology or spreadsheet-based solutions.” Despite this clear advantage, Ries laments, “only 2% of FP&A functions have adopted AI.”

Indeed, AI-powered solutions can analyze all your finance reports, bank statements and transaction logs to produce forecasts in minutes, instead of days, even modeling results for a number of different scenarios.

On top of that, AI forecasting is far more accurate. As well as removing manual errors that inevitably creep in from time to time, AI forecasting algorithms can remove human bias, so erroneous assumptions don’t roll forward from previous forecasts.

3. Automate data collection processes

Collecting, consolidating, verifying and cleaning data is a fundamental and crucial task for clerical employees, but it’s also tedious, time-consuming, and aggravating.

Data pre-processing automation functions are faster and more accurate, allowing CFOs and finance teams to focus on big-picture strategy instead. DataRails, for one, offers cloud-based, AI-powered data collection behind a familiar Excel interface.

With DataRails, you can automate data collection, consolidation, aggregation, cleaning, processing and visualizing to reduce the risks of internal fraud, while continuing to use the spreadsheets that have served you well for years.

4. Break down internal silos

Better financial planning, organization, and workflows rely on the smooth flow of data around the organization. Before introducing advantage tech tools, you need to remove information silos and make sure that your data collection, reporting and projection platforms can access all the information signals they need.

The best way to achieve this is to move your data repository to the cloud, so that it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Look for a cloud-based data lake that supports multiple data formats and structures, and set access permissions to allow vital tools into your data while keeping out malicious actors.

With cloud data storage, you can sync files and workflows across applications and support maximal functionality for your cloud tools.

5. Empower non-finance team members

It can be hard to give up control over internal financial services, but doing so can make life so much easier for finance teams – and for the people who experience bottlenecks whenever they need your help. One big step is to use a tool like Airbase to empower senior staff in other departments to make buying decisions, so that they don’t need to wait for approval for every new SaaS license.

Airbase offers consolidated payment types, streamlined purchase request workflows, and full visibility into expenditure while removing bottlenecks to purchase approval. Simplifying the process is cited by 71% of finance teams as the main reason for adopting dedicated expense management software.

It also helps to set up self-serve portals, so that managers and employees in other departments can independently generate reports like salary reports, expense reports, RoI on tool spend, etc., rather than waiting for a finance employee to have time to help them. This cuts frustration and wasted time for both sides.

Your financial processes don’t have to be left in the Excel era

There’s no reason why the finance department has to carry on as the poor relation when it comes to tech. By streamlining and automating data collection, payroll, and forecasting, removing information silos, and supporting self-serve finance portals, CFOs can set up friction-free finance processes that form a solid foundation for company growth in 2022 and beyond.

Featured photo: GettyImages
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