Most Commonly Automated Financial Processes

Michael Eisner November 12, 2020 Finance

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Automated financial services can save organizations a lot of time and money while providing powerful performance insights. Yet many organizations are reluctant to embrace automation technologies due to implementation concerns and not knowing where to start. In this article we look at some of the most commonly automated financial processes to give you some ideas and inspiration to get started.

Expenditure Forecasts

Budgets and forecasts play a key role in making informed decisions within any organization. Many organizations continue to rely on manual forecasting processes like filling out generic spreadsheets. Other organizations ignore the process altogether, moving forward without any clear indication of where they are headed.

With cost-effective and user-friendly automated financial services tools stakeholders can access expenditure forecasts and run new scenarios in real-time. Not only are the reports based on the most readily available data, but they are free from the errors common in manually prepared forecasts.

Investment Applications

Investment applications and new customer onboarding have always been tedious and drawn-out processes. Strict regulations like KYC and anti-money laundering (AML) laws as well as requirements to establish and maintain risk-based customer identification programs (CIP) make it difficult for banks to expedite the application process. Not only are these processes costly for banks, but they result in poor customer experiences.

Automated financial services have a broad range of benefits for processing investment applications and onboarding new customers. Robotic process automation (RPA) eliminates manual review and data entry tasks by capturing data from KYC documentation. Banks can also streamline communication with customers, notifying them of application decisions and providing them with self-service options to cost-effectively expedite the process.

CapEx requests

The CapEx approval process plays an important role in the cash flow of an organization. Yet in most organizations CapEx approval processes are highly inefficient, requiring that requests pass through multiple departments. While significant legwork may be acceptable to some degree for large asset purchases it is less so for minor everyday purchases like office equipment. In addition to being slow, manual approval processes are prone to errors. It is not uncommon for employees to miscalculate or route approvals to the wrong party.

The CapEx approval process begins with a request for a capital asset. The proposal or request typically identifies the asset, the cost, and the anticipated ROI. From there the request is typically sent to management. Management considers the need and determines whether the asset falls within the organization’s budget. If approved the request is sent to the procurement team to get estimates and arrange for payment.

Organizations can simplify CapEx approval processes as well as increase efficiency and transparency through automation. Approval requests are automatically routed to the appropriate party and reminders sent. The requestor can track the status of the proposal in real-time. With business process management (BPM) software, organizations can easily design and implement approval processes that meet their unique business needs.

Invoice Workflow

Traditional invoice workflows pose a number of challenges for organizations. First, paper-based invoices are slow and require employees to spend a lot of time processing. Second, invoices lack uniformity and must be analyzed by humans to identify relevant information, a process that is also prone to error. Finally, manual processes lack transparency and require extensive accounting and reconciliation to match invoices to payments.

With automated financial services, organizations can create an easy invoice approval process. Automation solutions can extract relevant data from the invoices and store them in a central repository for easy access in the future. Automated invoice workflow features like email approval processes make it easy for stakeholders to approve invoices and payments from anywhere. Automation also simplifies accounting and reconciliation on the back end.

Accounts Receivable System

Accounts receivable (AR) plays a vital role in ensuring healthy cash flows. Yet many organizations continue to rely on inefficient paper-based AR processes. With these systems, employees spend countless hours printing, mailing, copying, and searching for lost documents. In fact, some experts estimate that with these inefficient AR processes it can take an average of up to 16.3 days to process a single invoice.

Many organizations are hesitant to switch to an automated AR solution largely because they fear change. Switching to an automated accounts payable and accounts receivable system, however, is a seamless transition that yields many benefits. Automation reduces costs and eliminates costly data entry errors and misplaced invoices. Most importantly, AR automation gets invoices out quickly to the right person at the right time helping your organization to get paid faster.

Annual Accounts Audit

Audits are among the more repetitive and time-consuming financial services processes. Traditional auditing processes involve the use of disparate systems and tools. Auditors serve vital roles in identifying suspicious transactions and ensuring that organizations are in compliance with both internal policies and financial regulations.

Automated financial services simplify the auditing process. Using RPA, organizations can gather and standardize data for use by auditors as well as assist with classification for annual risk assessments. Auditors can also use automation to run controls for testing and create detailed reports. 

Automated controls

 According to Forrester Research, fraud costs organizations between $200 and $250 billion annually. This places added pressure on organizations to implement controls and other measures to mitigate risk. More and more organizations are relying on automated controls for this reason. An automated control is a mechanism that enforces predefined rules when one or more conditions are present.

Organizations use automated controls for several reasons in addition to controlling risk. They also help to ensure regulatory compliance. For example, to comply with regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, organizations must regularly test key controls. Automated controls also reduce audit and compliance costs, as well as improve processes by eliminating manual controls.

Automated financial services offer many advantages and will continue to play an increasingly important role in helping organizations to meet dynamic business challenges. ProcessMaker provides industry leading low-code business process management (BPM) software that has helped organizations all over the world to automate their financial services processes. 

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