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Powering financial teams with cloud technology to navigate uncertainty

Cloud-native applications foster agility, allowing companies to scale operations quickly and change processes without re-engineering a long chain of dependencies

Finance and accounting systems must be agile, responsive, and secure to keep up with the changing needs of modern business.

A survey of 200 U.K. financial and accounting leaders at small and midsized businesses revealed that many teams are struggling to efficiently manage their back-office technology. Data integrity, lost productivity from manual processes, and a disconnect between the pace of business and the financial process are all major issues.

“The information contained in some financial management programs is often isolated and specific. Executives who need to report across silos have to search for the data they need and export it into a spreadsheet or database to make sense of it and create reports,” says Scott Freedman, director of marketing at Sage Intacct.

Leaders see room for improvement in nearly every phase of their financial processes. Priority number one is improving efficiency and reducing costs, cited by 78% of respondents. Improving data accuracy for real-time decision making and improving financial reporting capabilities were also high on the list.

To improve these challenges, many executives are shifting mission-critical systems to the cloud which provides data accuracy and integrity, automates time-consuming manual processes, and allows for real-time decision making.

Moving to the cloud is also helping teams improve security controls while providing better visibility across the organisation. Integrating financial data on a single cloud platform gives everyone a common, updated, and accurate set of numbers to work with.

Standardised formatting resolves data integrity issues when calculations are performed with different measurements or updated at different times. Teams doing budgeting, planning, and other tasks no longer must send spreadsheets and emails back and forth to coordinate their numbers.

Forecast, a venture-backed technology company, has already seen the benefits of a modernised financial management system as it has allowed their board to take timely action based on accurate up-to-date data.

The enhanced level of detail Forecasts’ finance team can provide to senior management using Sage Intacct is creating more transparency around costs. This is due to the accuracy and volume of data that Intacct allows them to capture.

“Intacct has become a key piece of the cog in terms of showing our investors how we’re performing with accurate up-to-date data on our cash flow, which then means the board can take timely action if need be,” says Tom Blake-Wilson, VP of Finance, at Forecast.

A paradigm shift

In the cloud, businesses can automate many time-consuming manual procedures, processing information with the click of a button. “Reports no longer have to be stuck in time—you’re always able to make decisions based on the most up-to-date information possible,” says Freedman.

Automation also enables companies to slice and dice operational data at a highly granular level. Tagging assets and transactions by location, product line, project, employee, and other factors allows managers to easily determine the business value of transactions and assets that may not be separately accounted for in traditional spreadsheets.

Since going live with Sage Intacct, the Forecast are already “saving two or three days a month just in terms of building month-end reports and running reports in a more automated fashion,” says Blake-Wilson.

“Previously it was too complicated and time intensive to do deep dives into the data, but with Sage Intacct we can pull accurate, reliable data, which gives us a lot more transparency on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.”

Although automation ensures accurate data transfers, supplementing with AI capabilities eliminates other kinds of human error—for example, flagging irregular inputs such as double entries. By analysing large data sets over time, AI helps leaders to make more accurate, wide-scale forecasts about supply and demand.

Building an agile future

Small and midsized businesses are struggling to keep up with the demands of today’s financial management. Manual processes, scattered data and reports which are no longer accurate by the time they are published can prove to be a hindrance.

Cloud-native applications foster agility, allowing companies to scale operations quickly and change processes such as billing and payments without re-engineering a long chain of dependencies.

By unifying financial management on a cloud-native platform, businesses can automate processes, gain real-time insights into their operations and make decisions that will improve productivity and profits.

AI capabilities can flag irregular inputs, such as double entries and suggest maintenance fixes before breakdowns occur. Dashboards and data visualisation tools are also being used to help business units organise financial information in a relevant and easy to understand way.

With security and compliance requirements increasing, cloud-native systems provide built-in controls to ensure only authorised individuals have access to sensitive data.

This helps to reduce time spent on management chores while simultaneously reducing risk. Ultimately, this will enable business leaders to make more accurate forecasts about supply and demand, leading to increased revenue and cost savings.

To find out more on this topic, read our complete research here

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