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Top tips for making your finance transformation program a resounding success

Automating your enterprise's finance function is a savvy move, provided you do so smartly.

Planning to make 2023 the year you embark on a wholesale finance transformation program? It's a move that will stand your enterprise in excellent stead as you navigate the complexities of the post-Covid business landscape.

Replacing spreadsheets and manual processes with an automated cloud platform that eliminates the bulk of the repetitive tasks traditionally associated with the accounting function will supercharge your productivity and free your team up to do more interesting, higher-value work – think business analysis and skilled research.

It also has the potential to reduce data capture error rates and improve data quality. That's because computer software isn't prone to making the sort of errors that make human beings, well, human.

Net result? A more powerful and efficient accounting function; one that's capable of generating a timely, accurate trove of insights that can be used to support decision-making across the enterprise.

The case against change

That's the upside. The potential downside – and very likely the reason why your enterprise is yet to go down this route – is disruption. Fear that embarking on a finance transformation program will create more problems than it solves, at least in the short term, continues to act as a handbrake for many organisations.

At BlackLine, we've had scores of conversations with business leaders who know there's a better way of doing things but who are worried that interim state technical complexities will throw their operations off kilter. Others have expressed doubts about whether their finance and IT teams could come together to pull off a project successfully.

The good news is, careful planning and meticulous execution can put paid to these concerns and enable your organisation to capitalise on the many advantages finance transformation can supply.

Here are some tips to help you do so.

Make metrics matter

A successful transformation strategy starts with determining exactly what you hope to achieve. Understanding the status quo and benchmarking yourself against organisations of similar size and scale, which have already undergone transformation, will help you to set appropriate goals for your project. Quantifying objectives and potential benefits in this way may also help you to obtain the executive sponsorship you need to navigate roadblocks during the execution phase.

Adopt best practice

They may operate across different industries and in very different ways, but there are certain fundamental characteristics that all organisations share. And when it comes to implementing a finance transformation program, there are a few best practices that every organisation does well to follow. Partner with a reputable, experienced systems integrator, and you'll enjoy the benefit of their experience delivering similar projects and achieving optimum outcomes for a multitude of clients.

Buy, don't build

Is your enterprise a well-resourced software developer with a host of high-performing reference sites to its credit? Didn't think so. If building, maintaining and upgrading finance automation software isn't your core business, it's worth asking how you can hope to make a better fist of it than a vendor that's built a multi-million-dollar enterprise doing nothing else. Adopting a single cloud-based platform that's well supported and continuously optimised makes better sense than attempting to develop, run and support your own bespoke solution.

Harmonise your data

Across Australia, businesses of all stripes are becoming alive to the benefits that utilising data analytics to inform business planning can deliver. At the same time, they're reaping the awards of automating critical finance and accounting processes such as financial close, accounts receivable automation and intercompany financial management.

Automating your finance function will put you in possession of a rich seam of data that can be harnessed for competitive advantage. That data will become all the more valuable if it's harmonised with the data that's collected and stored elsewhere in the enterprise. Using common, standardised naming and formatting conventions will make it easier to create a single pool of data that can be accessed by authorised personnel from across the organisation.

Transforming for the better

The case for finance transformation has already been made out. Australian businesses are voting with their feet and banking the cost savings and productivity dividend that swapping old-school manual systems and processes for cloud-based automation technology can deliver. Make a success of your implementation program, and your enterprise will be well placed to join them.

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