Michael Nixon, VP of Product at SnapLogic


Finance teams have long been under pressure from the broader business to deliver critical information, quickly and often. They’re expected to manage typical tasks like daily cash flow, customer transactions, and employee payments while also supporting strategic, long-term decisions on when and where to spend capital to remain competitive and drive growth.

To manage this juggling act, many finance teams have turned to technology that enables automation. Enterprise automation takes the pressure off finance professionals by taking over many repetitive admin-heavy tasks that take up time and need to be done but don’t necessarily add tremendous value that differentiates or propels the business forward.

Enterprise automation-powered technology and applications are becoming commonplace, forming an essential part of many digital transformation strategies. Automating back-end finance processes allows data to get moved to where it needs to while reducing the potential for human error and time delay of human input. A fully automated finance team can eliminate the need for manual data insights and accelerate core finance processes. However, kick-starting these automation initiatives can be difficult thanks to already time and resource-strapped IT teams, shrinking budgets, and an ever-growing technology skills gap. Which is where low-code comes in.


What is low-code?

There is fierce competition for top talent amongst technology vendors but also across the business world as a whole – with fewer individuals with the sought-after technical skills available to fill the jobs in demand. Consequently, we have seen more organisations looking to deploy low-code technology. Low-code isn’t new, but in recent years it’s seen a rapid uptake with adoption further accelerated by the mass disruption caused by COVID-19 and subsequent need to delegate or distribute tech tasks away from already-stressed IT teams.

Low-code platforms reduce the technical competence needed to engage in technology and data projects. Where a business user once submitted a ticket to their IT help desk and waited for a response, with low-code people from various business functions can self-execute some tasks and processes, giving them greater speed, flexibility, and agility to access the information they need when they need it.


What does this mean for finance teams?

In finance, data needed for workflows can often be buried deep within company systems, siloed away from easy access. This can cost finance teams time locating, identifying, and integrating data that could be better spent on business-critical activity. Traditionally, manually integrating data like this can take IT developers weeks if not months; however, the initial set-up is only the beginning. Data pipelines need ongoing maintenance to keep up with the changing demands of the business. As more data pipelines are added, an organisation’s data infrastructure can become complex, difficult to manage, and also expensive to set up. Therefore, financial teams are left with additional manual data entry, more time spent waiting on IT to maintain and update workflows, and limited or slow financial insights as result.


Where to start?

With so much to gain from low-code enterprise automation initiatives, it can be challenging to know where to start. It’s important to recognise that enterprise automation is all about driving financial processes, and business processes in general, across multiple business groups and stakeholders – enterprise wide. Stakes are higher, as opposed to simple task automations, that automate a task here and there. Below are the top five financial processes ripe for an enterprise automation approach.


  1. Order-to-cash: A staple of the finance team – automating this process can streamline the cash flow into a business. Completing a deal with a prospective new client can mean inputting data across Salesforce, Docusign, and Netsuite, for example, all of which are likely needed to complete the sale, manage the signed contract, and generate the invoice. If this process is automated in a few clicks, finance professionals can spend less time checking orders and cash flows between systems.
  2. Loading the ERP: It’s essential for finance to compile and track billings and invoices of clients, along with managing the use of consultants and third-party vendors. Low-code automation can support the back-end system workflows which connect data sources into their ERP system, reducing the need for manual input and therefore the chance for human error.
  3. M&As: Incorporating two companies into a single rationalised system is a complicated process and if completed incorrectly, can lead to the worst features of both systems making their way into the final product. A merger often leads to countless different ERP and finance applications in use under a single organisation. In many cases, these can vary between regions and markets. By automating these systems under a single system, IT professionals can see which legacy applications are unnecessary and need to be retired.
  4. Supply chain: Often, in companies that use a high number of legacy systems, the supply chain can operate in isolation from the finance team. Rationalising information such as warehouse stock within the same system as the finance team can help determine critical sales data and deliver insights that can power future business strategy.
  5. Financial modelling and planning: Having a holistic view of data from different business lines such as sales, marketing, product, and customer service can be time-consuming. By integrating data and enabling data warehouse automation, you can pull data from across the business so financial analysts can access the information they need to complete financial modelling and revenue forecasting.

There’s no end to the benefits this technology can bring. Building the right tech stack, which has been pulled together with low-code and easy accessibility, for as many skill levels as possible, in mind is essential. Choosing systems that are cloud-based, with intuitive user interfaces, that offer built-in AI assistance, and promise fast time to value are key. Critically important is selecting a platform that can scale and meet the strenuous demands of an enterprise organisation.  As new systems get added, or as new businesses or companies are acquired, organisations must have a robust infrastructure in place that integrates them quickly and ensure all businesses can grow and scale as needed – while still being easy to use.

Low-code technology is the new great enabler, now coming of age, allowing everyone in a business to contribute to a wide range of data-driven projects. It promises to alleviate the strain on IT teams and give power and autonomy to the lines of business. When this technology is applied to enterprise automation, organisations can react with more speed and agility, deliver better and more accurate interactions with customers, partners, employees, accelerate business results and more. Finance teams can tap into a new wealth of productivity whilst better positioning themselves to navigate future potential disruption.



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