5 Financial Accounting Processes to Kick Start Your Digital Transformation Journey

Digital transformation is turning many industries on their heads with automation changing the way people work and eliminating many of the manual, paper-based tasks rife across the enterprise.

Here Finance Monthly hears from Andrew Hayden, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Winshuttle, who discusses the key accounting processes behind a successful digital transformation.

According to analyst group IDC, worldwide spend on the hardware, software and services that enable business process automation will surpass $2.1 trillion in the next four years.

Financial accounting is one business function notorious for manual and error-prone processes within Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR) and General Ledger (GL). These functions are often targeted ‘low hanging fruit’ for companies to start their automation journey and prove the benefits of automation to other parts of the business.

1. Speeding up journal entries

Manually entering data through the SAP Graphical User Interface (GUI) is not only tedious and time consuming,  but it can also often lead to errors – and that means costly rework. SAP-enabled workbooks eliminate the need for manual data entry into SAP. This enables them to get their work done faster and with fewer errors and frees up more time to understand and describe anomalies or work on other high-value tasks.

2. Reduce invoicing traffic jams

At month end, AP and AR teams can usually be found with stacks of invoices on their desks, or furiously entering never-ending quantities of data into the ERP system. Creating and paying invoices is the kind of repetitive, high-volume, and time-sensitive activity that is ripe for automation.

Instead of manually entering supplier invoices or creating customer invoices via the SAP GUI, AP and AR clerks can use SAP-enabled Excel workbooks powered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to clear their invoicing backlogs and stay on top of incoming work. This will enable them to deal with PO and non-PO invoices more efficiently, leading to more on-time payments, fewer invoicing errors and supplier enquiries, and ultimately improved supplier relationships.

3. Improve master data accuracy

The timeliness and accuracy of financial accounting operations depend on the master data being correct. Errors or omissions in customer or supplier master records can delay invoicing or payments and lead to problems that are costly and time consuming to fix.

Automating this process enables the finance team to quickly create or update master data using SAP-enabled Excel workbooks or web forms.

4. Improve compliance across key business processes

The data entry process can be complicated if multiple people in an organisation need to supply or approve data, which can often be necessary to comply with strict business procedures. Automation can help here too. For example, it’s possible to build a capital expense request solution that routes a web form to the right approver based on the amount of the request and company code.

5. Spend less time preparing for audits

External and internal audits are a fact of life for any accounting team and preparing for them doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming.  An Excel-based solution can be created that can quickly extract any data from SAP that auditors may want to see—for example, invoices over £250,000. This type of automation not only reduces audit preparation time but can also reduce the time external auditors spend on site and consequently audit costs.

In addition to greater productivity and efficiency, organisations can expect greater data accuracy and improved compliance with internal and external procedures and regulations through automation.  And when staff no longer need to perform mundane, repetitive tasks and can instead focus on more strategic projects, morale improves, and more value is delivered to the business.

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