Lack of digitisation holds back finance

A third (34 percent) of finance leaders say their teams continue to rely on manual expense and invoice processes even though they are “hugely time-consuming and archaic”, according to a survey by Financial Director.

The survey, conducted in associated with Chrome River between September and October 2020, also found that only a third of (29 percent) finance teams did have fully automated expense and invoice processes, while 36 percent had either expense processes automated only (18 percent) or invoice processes automated only (also 18 percent).

Deloitte’s 2020 report, Accelerate digitisation to increase resilience, found that digital processes are key to building resilience in the face of disastrous world events, such as the coronavirus pandemic. The report said companies should rethink and accelerate their digitisation strategy to increase resilience and optimise business processes in response to the pandemic.

Nick Ludlow, regional vice president at Chrome River, agrees and says automating expense and invoice processes is a “quick, important, and highly visible win” for finance teams to improve life for their colleagues and themselves.

“Nobody likes having to fill out spreadsheets and manually staple receipts to them—it’s hugely time consuming and archaic. Expense automation is often one of the quickest digital transformation initiatives with rapid return on investment. As expenses touch large numbers of employees on a regular basis, CFOs can earn some serious brownie points for their team by automating this process.”

Ludlow says firms tend to act when they start looking over their shoulders at their competitors.

“I think as soon as they start to see their peers and the end results they are achieving, the ball starts rolling a bit faster,” he says.

While expense and invoice automation can get the finance team some quick recognition from the rest of the organisation, Ludlow cautions that it’s important not to rush the process as that could lead to a situation where the technology is not used effectively by staff.

“If employees are used to a completely manual system or process for expense or invoice, there’s potentially going to be some initial fear because they have to learn a new process and product.”

“However, that’s why having a trusted advisor is important, to help and support the users through the implementation. It shouldn’t be a short, sharp shock, but more of a collaborative process to build the rollout gradually across the organisation,” Ludlow adds.

  • 71% of respondents only have expense or invoice automated. This isn’t enough to give CFOs visibility and control over cash flow. Prioritise employing automation to free up valuable energy for more strategic work.
  • If your budget only allows for one initiative, start with your most impactful process. Which process touches the widest set of employees and how much does this cost now.
  • Feature sets are important, but be mindful of the most critical component: implementation. Without a successful roll out, even the easiest to use technology can fall into disuse.

To find out more about expense and invoice management, go to and request a product demo.