Study: 60% of Finance Professionals report their company lacks process automation

December 7, 2022

A study was recently released focused on the level of automation in place to support back-office processes within finance and accounting departments. 

The study found that 60% of surveyed financial professionals felt their department was lagging in the adoption of automation. In larger organizations, the CFO is focused on strategy and other macro issues and often detached from the detailed and manual activities performed by their staff day to day. Many CFOs have not taken the time to analyze just how much manual effort they’re paying to have performed through human capital. They may uncover that many more basic activities could be automated for much less using modern technologies like A.I. 

By investing in automation, the CFO can free up valuable time within their teams. This time can be repurposed towards more strategic analysis and collaboration with business leaders to drive the enterprise forward. Imagine going to a Michelin Star restaurant only to be fed microwavable meals instead of the masterpiece prepared by a celebrity chef that you were expecting. Imagine that when you point out this inconsistency you are informed the chef is too busy cleaning all the dishes by hand because they never invested in dishwashers. 

As unbelievable as this would be in real life, this is exactly what happens within corporate finance and accounting teams across many companies. 60% of companies according to this study to be exact. 

The study breaks down the specific categories where manual effort is being spent:

  • 24.3% on Audit and Compliance related activities 
  • 22.1% on gathering data for analysis 
  • 17.1% on Analyzing data for insights/reports
  • 16.9% on communicating with internal and external stakeholders
  • 16.6% on trying to learn and improve the company’s process
  • 3% on other 

Below are additional ways the CFO’s team is wasting time with the lack of automation today:

  • Performing data extraction from the G/L system manually. This problem is magnified if the company has its data spread across multiple systems. Some companies have multiple ERPs or disconnected supporting systems including HR, CRM, and operational. 
  • Transforming, formatting, and uploading this data into spreadsheet models to complete financial reports, budgets and forecasts.
  • Keeping track of and managing many versions of spreadsheet files.
  • Inefficient collaboration. This can require using a combination of email, shared drives, and chat systems to collaborate on whose turn it is to work or review a file next. 
  • Frequently correcting errors produced by the manual process. This can require hours of work each period to redo portions of the work already completed because errors were identified without the proper audit trails.
  • Consolidating spreadsheet files. This can occur when the corporate finance team receives data input from departments. Hours can be wasted consolidating these files into summary data. 
  • Ad-hoc analysis is extremely time-consuming when data is decentralized and driven by spreadsheet files. Dynamic analysis is near impossible. 

If your team is stuck in the past and managing all FP&A activities with spreadsheets today, consider as your next platform to help you improve efficiency and automation across your team. 

Access the Full Study