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Finance Departments Must Automate By @Automic | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

This requires the right mix of people, processes and technology, and automation should be at the center of this proposition

Finance Departments Must Automate

By Chris Boorman

While reading up on some industry research recently I came across a very insightful post from Robert Kugel of Ventana Research, trailing research conducted into how technology can enhance performance in finance departments. The top line is that most organizations want finance to take a more strategic role in company management.

How does finance meet this expectation, when running critical processes such as reconciling finances by running month-end, quarter-end or year-end close consumes enormous amounts of resources? What kind of resources do you have tied up each time you close the books? An even scarier thought: what if you had to put a dollar amount on what it costs to achieve this?

According to Kugel, "finance transformation refers to a longstanding objective: shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments to more strategic, higher-value functions". To achieve this, organizations need to free their best and brightest from the time intensive manual tasks involved in day-to-day operations, so that they can drive the business forwards and focus on strategy and innovation.

The answer to this problem? Automation.

Ventana's study identified the three most important issues facing finance departments as process, analytics and data, all of which can be made significantly more efficient with the right automation technology.

A clear issue however, is that the research shows that executives and members of the finance department are generally pretty skeptical about the potential of technology to have an impact on their roles and the department as a whole. According to Kugel,"while two-thirds (of respondents) said that business analytics will significantly influence their future performance, only half that many asserted that mobile technology and big data will be influential. Only half said that cloud computing can affect their performance."

In my opinion this is a pretty short-sighted view - effective analytics to make sense of data is particularly crucial to the finance department if it is going to have an impact on business performance and strategy execution. Data is nothing without insight and as Kugel outlines, the right software is crucial.

The bottom line is that the business IT environment facing finance departments today is more complex than ever - and this is being compounded by the hyper-connected technologies like Cloud, big data, mobility and SaaS.

Like any organization or function in a modern business today, finance departments need to continue to enhance their performance to provide maximum value. This requires the right mix of people, processes and technology, and automation should be at the center of this proposition.

A fabulous example of this is a company called Genworth who recently presented at the London Gartner Data Center Conference on how they used automation to transform their financial processes. To reconcile their books for month-end close they had a labor-intensive process that consisted of 1,300 tasks and took 90 hours to complete. That is almost 4 days a month spent on process, not driving company strategy. Fed up with this lost time, Genworth fully automated their financial close process and now complete the task in 9 hours.  What would you do with 3 extra days a month?

Genworth Case Study

Within their presentation, a slide that particularly caught my eye stated the following:

"Automation allowed us to de-risk month end, building confidence and trust with our business leading to a partnership in innovative change."

What more could one ask for?

Read the original blog entry...

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Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things.

With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at www.automic.com.