FINANCIAL PROCESSES WHERE TECHNOLOGY CAN PROVIDE BETTER EFFICIENCY
Tools that are adapted to the reality of Finance groups provide an appreciable gain in efficiency in the conduct of certain financial process operations. See how technology allows you to do more with less, faster and more securely.
Words: 820 Reading time: 4 minutes 2 seconds
Some organizations have complex financial processes, supported by ERPs with a general ledger module that is not intuitive and does not facilitate access to the necessary information. CPAs have historically overcome these issues by implementing workarounds in Microsoft Excel. However, this approach requires multiple operations that are both manual and repetitive, thus increasing the margin of error and the effort required. So, what are the processes involved and how does technology help solve them?
Three major financial processes can be improved: budgeting, access to transactions, as well as management of charters of accounts and personalized totals.
1- Budgets and forecasts
Producing budgets is a process that can quickly turn out to be very complex. CPAs must be able to specify the calculation rules to produce the budget, and to manage successive iterations to refine the budgets. They must ensure that collaboration between the different stakeholders in the budget process, such as departments, is effective and efficient. The usual method used by CPAs is then to manually produce an initial report by fiscal period and by account of actual amounts from the ERP general ledger module. These amounts for the current fiscal year, and sometimes also that of the previous fiscal year, will then serve as a basis for producing the budget. All the data is then imported into Excel files which are then prepared to be sent to the various stakeholders to enable them to produce their budget estimates. The CPAs must then manage the consolidation and validation of all these files in order to produce a complete version of the budget. Numerous manual operations are required to complete the process, with several iterations, each with its share of exchange of Excel files with issues of collaboration, data security and potential human errors.
2- Access to transactions and other ancillary data
The reports produced by finance contain amounts that are often calculated using complex business rules. These will subsequently be broken down according to different axes, for example, by fiscal period, by accounts, by cost center, and by department. The amount that we see in a report then being the amount resulting from the final calculation.
During audits, CPAs often need to be able to determine exactly how an amount is calculated. They then need to obtain all relevant underlying information, such as the list of detailed transactions that were used as raw data for the calculation. The method used is then to manually produce a detailed extraction report in the ERP on the transactions by reproducing the filters on the axes. It is also sometimes necessary to manually complete this report with another extraction when data is not available directly in the general ledger, for example billing details or hours. The manual operations required, in addition to being repetitive and time-consuming, are conducive to the creation of careless errors.
A tool like Swift Finance saves time by clicking on any number in a report to have access to all the transaction information available in the ERP, including notes, and all hidden attributes, plus all relevant auxiliary information such as invoice details, hours details. It is also possible to create personalized lists and share them with colleagues for greater collaboration efficiency.
3 - Management of personalized account charts and totals
Account charts and their totals are usually managed by account aggregation rules defined in the financial reporting modules of the ERP. The management interfaces for these rules are cumbersome and require special attention to ensure that everything is compliant.
To cope with these constraints, CPAs are often tempted to reproduce reports in Microsoft Excel based on extractions of transactions from the ERP general ledger module. The aggregation totals are then implemented using Excel formulas which are based on the raw transaction data. The formulas generally used are the infamous "SUMIF" and VLOOKUP", which although powerful, can induce human errors which make the validation of reports difficult. In addition, the fact that the rules are an integral part of the reports makes them more rigid and complex to modify.
Swift Finance is a tool that saves time and significantly reduces the margin for error. By clicking on any number in a Swift Finance report, CPAs will access the full transaction information available in the ERP, including notes, all hidden attributes, as well as all relevant ancillary information (the details of invoices, details of hours for example). Centralizing aggregation rules also allows you to create complex reports without the risk of human errors with missing or inconsistent definitions.
We have shown 3 examples where specialized technology can be used to complete financial processes faster, with less effort and human error. See how our Swift Finance solution quickly overcomes this challenge.