In the recently released insightsoftware 2021 Finance Team Trends report, survey respondents from North America and EMEA revealed some of the top challenges facing finance teams:
- Lack of time to spend on analysis
- Adoption of new technologies
- Data limitations or inaccuracies
- Reporting with disparate systems
There is a common theme among all these challenges, an underlying obstacle to success for the Office of Finance. It all boils down to a lack of time.
Meet the Finance Professional’s Biggest Time-Suck: Manual Processes
When asked about their primary tasks, survey respondents across multiple functions identified manual processes as a key reason they cannot execute fully against those tasks.
Delving a bit deeper into the data, a clear picture emerged. Manual processes put a chokehold on the Office of Finance’s ability to perform efficiently and effectively.
For example, although we identified financial planning and analysis (FP&A) as the main function of 66 percent of finance professionals, only 46 percent of those engaged in this area felt that they were able to fully execute all of their tasks because:
- Manual processes are taking up too much time (49 percent).
- Finance teams lack resources (29 percent).
- Finance teams lack needed skills (28 percent).
- Finance teams cannot readily access accurate, complete data (21 percent).
The same picture emerged in the area of tax reporting, with only 47 percent feeling confident that they are executing against that task efficiently. Once again, respondents identified manual processes as the main obstacle to efficiency (35 percent).
Why Are Finance Teams Still Saddled with Manual Processes?
The answer to this question lies in the survey results as well, with 24 percent of respondents revealing that to complete their daily workload they must work with data from disparate systems and data that are inaccurate, inaccessible, or incomplete.
ERP systems, for example, often tout out-of-the-box reporting solutions, but those reports are often inflexible and difficult for finance teams to change without calling on IT. Finance teams working on financial reporting, operational reporting, FP&A, or demand forecasting often require a specialized, customized set of reports that enable drill-down capabilities and comparative analysis between data sets that may exist in disparate formats or systems.
In an effort to get the job done, many finance teams resort to the dreaded data dump, wherein team members must extract data from multiple sources and copy/paste them into a workable spreadsheet for easier analysis. That process is the poster child for “time-suck.”
The Larger Problem with Manual Processes: The Trickle-Down Effect
What are the larger implications if finance teams continue to use clunky manual processes rather than embracing more streamlined reporting processes?
Going back to the top challenges identified by survey respondents, the number one challenge was a lack of time to spend on analysis. The more time your finance team spends on copy/pasting data into a static spreadsheet, the less time they have for value-added analysis.
What is the long-term impact of a lack of value-added analysis for your organization? Simply put, without proper time for analysis, the Office of Finance is ill-prepared to deliver the kind of actionable insights that organizations now need and expect from their CFO. Considering how the role of the CFO has evolved over time, that is a significant strategic blow to an organization.
From a purely operational standpoint, manual processes also cause serious bottlenecks for functions such as month-end and year-end close reporting, demand forecasting, tax management and planning, and more.
Laborious manual processes hamper an organization’s responsiveness and adaptability in a new economic reality that calls for agility to survive and thrive.
insightsoftware: The Finance Team’s Answer to Manual Processes
To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage, organizations must equip their finance teams with tools and solutions that reduce manual processes and enable near real-time financial and operational reporting, budgeting, forecasting, consolidation, and tax management.
insightsoftware solutions pull data at a more granular level from over 140 ERPs and other systems, enabling finance teams to work with a familiar spreadsheet format for analysis while still maintaining a connection to the original data source.
Rather than using a manual data dump, finance teams can quickly and easily import the necessary data, refreshing them in near real time as they work. Insightsoftware’s portfolio of best-in-class financial reporting, analytics, budgeting, forecasting, consolidation, and tax solutions save organizations hours of manual data entry work, freeing up finance teams to work on the strategic analysis that will confer a competitive advantage. You can find out more about our solutions by requesting a demo.