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Navigating uncertainty: The value of a robust finance unit
Mon, 4th Sep 2023

Business as usual: it’s a status quo that disappeared during the Covid crisis and seems unlikely to return any time soon. Instead, the economy, here in Australia and globally, has been beset by uncertainty.

From staff shortages and supply chain disruption to inflation and rising interest rates, businesses of all stripes and sizes have had challenges aplenty to contend with in recent years.

Throw a supersized dose of digital disruption into the mix, and it’s little wonder that stretched-to-capacity leadership teams are struggling to chart courses that enable them to manage the downside while aggressively pursuing the upside.

Finance under pressure
Finance departments, meanwhile, are labouring under equivalent levels of pressure, with increased business complexity and expanding roles placing unprecedented demands on their resources.

Finance folk are being asked to adjust their forecasts more frequently to ensure strategic decisions about the organisation’s direction are informed by data that’s up to the minute rather than a reflection of its position months earlier.

Their input and opinion are also being sought on initiatives to cut costs, boost output and grow the business.

And, as interest rates drive the cost of borrowing higher – and challenging economic conditions drive more customers out of business – they’re being required to step up their focus on collections and cash flow.

Doing more with less
Are they being allocated extra funding or resources to help them deliver on their ever-expanding remit? In most cases, the answer to that question is no.

With businesses of all stripes looking to contain overheads and headcounts, finance teams are typically being asked to do more with less.

That’s possible, but only if finance leaders are able to find efficiencies that free up their teams’ time, thereby enabling them to focus on the higher value, strategic work that’s increasingly coming their way.

Leveraging finance automation technology in areas such as accounts receivable automation is one way they can do so. It enables organisations to unify their data and processes and automate the bulk of the repetitive work – think posting journal entries and reconciling accounts – which kept finance teams busy in days of yore.

Up-to-the-minute reporting
Deploying automation technology also makes it possible to move away from traditional end-of-period reporting, which sees finance teams face a surge of activity at close times.

The alternative, continuous accounting, is a methodology that can be used to manage the accounting cycle digitally and in real-time.

The concept is centred around three key principles: the automation of repetitive processes, the elimination of end-of-period bottlenecks, and the fostering of a continuous improvement culture.

It’s a modus operandi that makes it possible for a finance team to gain a clear picture of the financial status quo of their organisation at any point within the accounting period rather than months after the fact.

This is particularly valuable when business performance is in a state of flux, and leaders are seeking up-to-the-minute insights to inform their decisions.

Surviving and thriving in uncertain times
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, innovation and change are essential for organisations to not just survive but to thrive and grow.

Ensuring your finance department has the capacity to support your enterprise to do so should be an urgent imperative. In the current climate of ongoing uncertainty, it’s an investment in future productivity and profitability you can ill afford not to make.