Jakub Jirsk - Fotolia
Emerging technologies have made the world of finance easier to navigate.
In an effort to save money, time and effort, CFOs are turning to ERP technologies to automate repetitive tasks and integrate business processes.
Here's how three emerging technologies -- cloud ERP, smarter analytics and robotic process automation -- are changing the way finance departments do business.
Many areas of the business have adopted cloud technologies long ago, but CFOs have long resisted. Many CFOs are still skeptical about using cloud ERP for finance. In particular, CFOs are concerned about functional maturity, implementation costs, privacy and security regulations and direct control.
As cloud ERP offerings improve, however, more CFOs are giving serious consideration to using cloud ERP for finance. Migrating to cloud ERP isn't impossible -- but it is difficult and often complicated, especially if a company is running more than one legacy system. This can be difficult if the company is older, as the IT department will be forced to tackle processes that were put in place by people who no longer work there. In many cases, the system is so old that no one on the IT team can remember why things were done a certain way.
However, the finance department can migrate to cloud ERP with concrete planning skills, meticulous attention to detail and good project management. A frequent mistake is to underestimate how much time it takes to migrate to cloud ERP. Successful migration often requires support from senior management and critical stakeholders should be directly involved in planning and implementation.
After cloud ERP is successfully implemented, it can take time for everyone to get caught up on how to use it properly. The biggest stumbling blocks are getting users to stop using ad hoc processes and turn instead to approved processes and the functionality of the new system.
AI for finance
The range of AI tools is still in the early days for finance, but a number of companies are piloting use cases. As both data and analytics quality improves, AI will get better at targeting critical issues for the finance department. For example, AI will flag errors that need to be corrected and can search for outliers from normal spending patterns by vendor, product or region. Risk sensing is another important area that CFOs are exploring AI's use, for example, scanning the news for threats to suppliers and informing the IT team of any potential risks.
Robotic processing automation
Robotic processing automation (RPA) -- which many consider a form of AI -- can help streamline an organization's end-of-year closing. CFOs and their teams can use RPA to automate time-consuming processes like reporting, which involves manually gathering, filtering, extracting and cleansing data. Another area finance departments are using RPA is to adding a new supplier, which typically involves the laborious process of vetting, validating and updating data. A CFO can also use RPA to examine the equipment that workers are using to understand how they complete their work. This is crucial in creating a better employee experience, as the CFO will have a view into how employees do their jobs and what does -- or doesn't -- work.