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How new financial directors can champion change in the first 100 days

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New year, new job? When joining a new organisation, the first 100 days are often key to implementing change and creating value for your organisation. Richard Hughes, Chief Financial Officer at Proactis, outlines the four key considerations for any transformation.

Entering a new workforce allows financial directors (FDs) a unique opportunity to review their company’s position with fresh eyes. Making a meaningful impact in a new role is often at the top of the list for newly appointed FDs, but it is never long before urgent work and, very often, firefighting takes over, meaning the due diligence required to conduct a holistic review of processes and procedures can often be pushed to the side.

Harvard Business Review found that utilising internal networks is key to making an impact[1], allowing newcomers to fully engage in their role, and boost productivity and innovation. The initial period of settling into a new role offers a unique opportunity to effect organisational change. So, during this time, a new FD must take it upon themselves to quickly get to know the environment and dynamics of their new workplace, as they aim to make a positive impact.

As a senior leader, it is important to understand the exact position of your company and, in order to be effective in this determining period of the first 100 days, financial decision makers must identify the most valuable information through a series of strategic reviews.

The four-point checklist

Following four key steps will help to ensure business-critical decisions are impactful and evidence based – closing gaps and creating opportunities to reduce costs, save time and improve Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) cycles.

  1. Spending – It is essential that FDs have a clear overview of all spend – direct and indirect – within the organisation. In identifying which departments are spending over the odds, or attracting penalty fees by delaying payments, problem areas can be identified and rectified.

Automation is one of the most powerful tools for streamlining spend management – and any business practice for that matter. Modular solutions, which can integrate with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) or finance systems, can be implemented swiftly – a key consideration that could offer ‘quick wins’ in any FD’s first few months. These automated P2P procedures can help businesses to drive maximum value by saving time, money and creating visibility, providing an unprecedented level of control over their spending.

  1. Suppliers – Conducting a holistic review of the suppliers linked with your organisation, particularly with a fresh perspective, can help to uncover inconsistencies in procedures, such as contract management and invoicing systems.

Transparency is central to driving cost savings, and relying on outdated methods for supplier handling can lead to duplicate agreements and auto-renewals of contracts that could have otherwise been reassessed. So, when it comes to supplier management, easily accessible contracts managed through electronic contract management systems can better inform procurement decision-making when compared with manual, de-centralised processes.

  1. Risks – It’s vital that new FDs look to identify weak links in their organisational structure. Where there is lack of visibility, there is risk of additional costs being incurred or, as previously suggested, inefficient contracts being automatically rolled over. Having a clear view of how agreements are managed is key.

Risk management cannot be seen simply as a one-off – or even annual – exercise. In order to be effective and allow organisations to reap the maximum benefit from contracts, it must be built into ongoing business interactions. In today’s complex world, risk management is just as critical to your organisation’s financial health and competitive performance as an individual’s focus on value creation.

  1. Processes – ‘Walking through’ a random invoice’s journey through your payment process is a simple yet incredibly informative task to help uncover such risks. However, it is also important to take on verbal and written feedback from employees who have been working with such systems for years. What do they feel is working, and what are their hurdles?

Being able to automatically collect, manage and track all financial information throughout the P2P system in one central repository means the need for manual searching or managing multiple software applications is eliminated, helping to improve accuracy as well as efficiency. It can identify errors and discrepancies, which can be rectified without delay to ensure the organisation is driving maximum value across budgets.

Across all four of these strategic areas, FDs should look to get a clear sense of where things are now, and where they want things to be. In order to get there, what must be changed? And how can their organisation make this change happen? All of these elements combined will provide a robust grounding from which transformation can be built.

Implementing informed change

Ultimately, a newcomer’s role at any organisation is to bring experience and fresh perspective to operations. The most important thing a senior leader can do is to establish a culture of change by promoting an environment that embodies this change, and propels it forward. Change must be credible, clear and compelling – and the way this is communicated throughout every layer of the business is key to how well it is embraced, thus how effective it can be in the long run.

This change does not need to be a large-scale, sweeping overhaul of operations to be meaningful. It can be as simple as modernising existing processes, and introducing automation to support current ways of working. Once organisational inefficiencies are identified, solutions that can be quickly and efficiently implemented with minimal disruption can then be considered.

If seeking to make a substantial impact within the first 100 days of a new role, FDs should turn to automation to support their goals. Employing digital tools to enhance existing procedures illustrates leadership skills and can be enforced rapidly, in return delivering a swift realisation of cost savings, in addition to winning over employee trust.

[1] https://hbr.org/2021/11/how-to-succeed-quickly-in-a-new-role

Business

Accounting Automation in the Future

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Accounting automation is the process of streamlining repetitive tasks in financial processes. For example, some processes like invoicing are time-consuming and repetitive. Automation can reduce manual labor and save businesses both time and money. Also, it helps improve accuracy, reduces errors, and provides more accurate financial reporting.

Accounting automation in the future will be increasingly important for businesses to stay competitive. But every new change comes with both advantages and challenges. Let’s dive in to get ready for this future trend.

 

Potential Future Benefits of Accounting Automation

Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings

Accounting automation is a great way to increase efficiency and cost savings. For example, AI bookkeeping uses advanced algorithms to automate many accounting tasks. So, companies can track expenses, prepare financial reports, and more using AI.

It reduces the time needed for manual entry. So, businesses can spend fewer labor hours on tedious processes. They can increase efficiency by freeing up resources for more strategic work. It also helps reduce errors and inconsistencies associated with manual processes. So, the cost of compliance is lower because of greater accuracy.

 

Improved Accuracy and Reliability

Accounting automation can improve accuracy and reliability in accounting processes. For example, Automating bank reconciliation is less prone to errors from human mistakes or miscalculations. You can automate the process to identify discrepancies between the bank statement and accounting records. It helps to ensure that financial reports remain accurate and reliable. So businesses can take corrective action faster than processing data manually.

 

Streamlined Business Processes

Streamlined business processes involve eliminating unnecessary steps, reducing paperwork, and automating repetitive tasks. This allows businesses to focus on higher-value activities, such as developing new products, improving customer service, and developing strategic plans for the future.

 

Making a Better Decision

Accounting automation can enhance decision-making in 3 ways.

1. It enables businesses to access real-time information from multiple systems. So they can identify trends for better decision-making.
2. Automated accounting also helps with forecasting, budgeting, and auditing tasks. It enables businesses to be more proactive in their decision-making processes.
3. Also, automated accounting tools can integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. They can manage data across the enterprise and make concise decisions that are favorable to the company as a whole.

 

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Accounting automation can help businesses increase customer satisfaction by streamlining their processes and providing a more efficient customer experience. For example:
4. Automated accounting systems can automate tedious manual tasks such as invoicing, data entry, and payroll processing. This allows businesses to focus on other aspects of their operations that are more important for customer service.
5. Automated accounting systems can also provide customers with more accurate and timely financial information. The information can help them make better decisions about their finances.
6. Also, accounting automation enables businesses to respond quickly to customer inquiries. It helps reduce wait times and improve the overall customer experience. So, you can build better relationships with their customers.

 

Improved Accessibility

Accounting automation takes place online or comes with cloud-based solutions. So, you can access your information and do your job from anywhere instead of being confined to one spot.

 

Challenges to Implementing Accounting Automation in the Future

Cost of Technology Infrastructure Upgrades

Automating an accounting system often requires businesses to invest in new hardware and software, such as servers and other associated equipment. These upgrades come with a hefty price tag that may be difficult for small businesses to afford.

There are also extra costs, such as installation fees, setup charges, software licensing fees, cloud storage costs, and maintenance fees.

 

Training Requirements for Staff Members

Accounting automation involves using advanced technology to automate certain processes. So, it creates a need for trained staff members who can handle the new technology. Training requirements vary depending on the type of software used.

Some common training includes record-keeping procedures, software applications, and troubleshooting skills.

 

Regulatory Compliance Issues

Accounting automation can be a time-saver, but it also requires firms to be aware of the applicable rules and regulations. Companies must ensure that their automated systems are compliant with relevant laws and regulations such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and other applicable accounting standards.

Besides, they must also comply with legal requirements related to taxes, financial statements, and other reporting obligations.

So, businesses must consider the complexities of regulatory compliance when automating accounting.

 

Security and Data Protection Concerns

As businesses move their accounting processes to the cloud, they are exposed to a wide range of potential security risks. Data breaches can cause significant damage to the business’s financial and reputational integrity. Besides, the complexity of automated accounting systems can make it difficult to identify and detect suspicious activities or errors in the system.

To ensure data is kept secure, businesses must have strong measures in place to protect against unauthorized access, encryption, and regular backups of data.

Furthermore, companies must train their staff on the proper use of the system. It helps staff to know how to protect confidential information from being accessed or misused by unauthorized personnel.

Businesses may also need an experienced IT team to monitor and maintain the system to keep up with any changes or updates for optimal performance.

 

Final thoughts

Accounting automation has come a long way in the past few decades. It is likely to continue to advance in the future. As technology continues to evolve, more businesses will likely begin taking advantage of automation in their accounting processes. So, businesses should be aware of the potential challenges and prepare to stay competitive.

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Weathering the economic storm in 2023

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By

Nikki Dawson, Head of EMEA Marketing at Highspot

 

New year, new business challenges. When it comes to creating and converting leads into sales for a business, both the marketing and sales teams are critical. Both functions think differently but are equally important in driving growth and revenue. Now more than ever in the current economic climate alignment between the two to achieve business goals is vital to survival.

Entering 2023 it’s important we look back and pinpoint where there’s room for improvement within our business and between our teams. With this, I predict the majority of businesses will realise it’s now critical to get their teams to communicate, collaborate and align more effectively.

What we learned in 2022

Findings from a recent survey of sales and marketing professionals found that over half (52%) of sales and marketing leaders in the UK agree they don’t understand which marketing assets are driving results with potential prospects. For marketers, this lack of visibility over assets limited the amount of valuable oversight which would allow them to improve content and increase adoption.

As a result, we’re now left with over a quarter (29%) of marketers not feeling confident in their ability to demonstrate the ROI achieved by marketing initiatives. Due to this, 30% of those surveyed this year feel a lack of confidence in creating marketing assets that have demonstrable success at meeting specific business objectives and driving sales growth.

Equipping teams with the right tools and technology they need to achieve business objectives seems obvious, but the latest research reveals that over a third (34%) of marketers aren’t confident they have the tools they need to manage and maximise digital marketing initiatives. Furthermore, 30% of UK marketers believe that a lack of efficient technology and tools and inconsistent use of CRM (31%) are barriers to their company’s sales and marketing collaboration.

These are all crucial learnings for what marketers have identified as key barriers in their role, it’s now down to business leaders to listen and take action.

How was revenue impacted?

The lack of alignment between marketing and sales, and the limited visibility over how digital marketing initiatives performed in 2022 had a negative impact on businesses’ ROI. This, as well as not having a single source of truth for marketers and salespeople led to content chaos and became a pain point for both parties wanting to do their jobs effectively.

For business leaders, during a time when demonstrating and justifying marketing and sales spending is needed now more than ever, the gap between marketing content, salespeople and ROI is of great concern.

The year ahead

Misalignment between sales and marketing means, at best, energy and resources are being wasted. At worst, it leads to strategies directly contradicting each other and not being delivered, while team members get frustrated and potentially leave.

Sales enablement has proven that it can dramatically resolve these pain points and be the foundation for alignment. With 72% of both teams equally agreeing that implementing sales enablement to support sales and marketing is something they believe their company should consider in the near future. It’s safe to say that in 2023 may well be the year we see it come into the mainstream.

By design, sales enablement software bridges the gap to provide a platform for alignment, offering one source of truth for linking sales and marketing activity to revenue. This year, the research found that the vast majority, (71%) of sales and marketing professionals agree that a lack of alignment between their teams has had a negative impact on revenue, and 52% of sales and marketing leaders in the UK agree they don’t understand which assets are driving results with potential prospects.

It’s clear that the need for aligned business functions has never been greater and soon, marketers and salespeople will call for AI-powered sales enablement as an essential tool to do their job effectively.

Now is the time…

If businesses want to optimise their work and maximise profits in the turbulent economic climate, they need to focus on driving change from the front by aligning their sales and marketing teams. Smart investment decisions that adapt processes based on buyer engagement with marketing content, and seller activities will be crucial in the coming months.

Having a sales enablement process in place can provide the necessary framework to begin coherently organising, finding, sharing, customising, and analysing content. Sales enablement platforms can be a one-stop shop for sales processes and marketing insights and it’s no longer something that can be overlooked by businesses.

Final thoughts

The need for optimisation has never been greater. In order to maximise profits sales and marketing functions need to work together seamlessly. This year we can expect to see more businesses utilising sales enablement technology to achieve key milestones. With this, marketers and salespeople alike will recognise sales enablement as a crucial day to day tool that is just as essential as the CRM they’re using today.

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