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Wednesday, 27 October 2021 19:55

Cloud financial management: empowering remote finance teams for 2022

By Fyle Inc

GUEST OPINION: Finance teams have emerged as global strategic leaders with the onset of the pandemic. Be it helping businesses transition into new normal or finding new ways to manage remote operations and reduce operating expenses, finance teams have been in the heart of it all.

This begs business owners to ask the question, "Have I done everything in my power to enable my finance teams to go about their work?"

Keep in mind that almost every function of the finance team depends on other departments. While they could meet everyone else in person for submissions or clarifications, going remote has thrown all those out the window and brought in newer challenges. What, you wonder? Let's find out.

What challenges did remote work pose for finance teams?

A typical in-office workday for a finance team member would involve multiple meetings with all other departments to progress their tasks. With distributed teams, these 1x1 meetings, which could have been for report submissions, error corrections, or information on new policies, can no longer take place.  Sure, there are webinar platforms to get people together, but these just aren’t the same as a face-to-face conversation. 

This translates into a severe lack of control over company-wide business expenses combined with tons of trailing emails for clarifications, broken records, inaccurate reports, and possible expense fraud. What's more?

  • All core financial functionalities like payroll processing, invoicing, and AP & AR break with increased physical distance if managed manually. 
  • As financial processes slow down, employee reimbursements TATs significantly increase, eventually lowering their morale and trust in the company. This leads to lower retention rates. 
  • By handling finances manually, teams lacked or simply missed out on all the important spend trends across the company. 
  • As it becomes more apparent that finance teams are missing out on stuff, some employees may exploit these leaks by submitting fraudulent expenses.

To solve these problems, finance leaders worldwide have started to see the importance of automating their expense management to regain control over company-wide expenses and cash flow. 

"Automation is the key to an optimised expense management process. Businesses have realized that they do not want to find themselves being unable to adapt to or losing control of finances during remote work." – Payments report.

Why should businesses consider switching to a cloud expense management software?

  • Digitisation of processes to suit remote work

Whether remote or travelling employees, they both incur expenses whose receipts could have hard copies or PDFs. Imagine having to store the hard copies in a box or the PDFs in a folder on one's phone. But, of course, they wouldn't be too keen, would they?

Although these tasks are low-impact, employees' would dedicate a lot of attention as it's their money invested for the business's needs. So it's only fair that the company makes this process easier. 

A cloud expense management software comes with OCR (optical character recognition) that lets employees capture pictures of their receipts using their phone's camera. What's more, the software auto-populates all the fields in the expense report, thus preventing any erroneous data entry.

  • Enhanced collaborations between finance and other teams

While working in an office, finance teams would have multiple interactions with employees to get the job done. Furthermore, if an employee were unaware of the company expense policy, it would result in fraudulent submissions that could affect your financial bottom line in the long run that greatly affect your financial bottom-line.

As you can see, the responsibility of finding and correcting these inaccurate reports falls entirely on your finance teams. This means productive hours wasted on menial tasks that could have just been automated. Additionally, while this was possible in a centralised office, as they could just walk up to an employee's desk and discuss these corrections, you are just expecting them to do the impossible with distributed teams.

This is where a cloud expense report software comes in. It facilitates seamless collaborations by enabling finance teams to feed in custom business rules depending on their current needs. It then effortlessly enforces these business rules on all employee expenses at the time of expense creation. This ensures no out-of-policy expenses are submitted. In addition, the software takes a huge load off the finance team's shoulders by adding a layer of security and accuracy around all business expenses.

  • Easy access to data from anywhere, anytime, using any device

A cloud expense software stores all financial data in one secure location while enabling employees to easily submit and track their business expenses from everyday applications like Whatsapp, Slack, G Suite, Outlook, and more. 

Having access to a secure cloud storage is of more use to Finance teams as they have access to all-expense data, namely claims, receipts, reimbursements, and violations, all stored in one place with easy retrieval. In addition, this further enhances the audit process, as document recovery for verification becomes easier.

  • Use advanced analytics to back business decisions with data

Traditional means of expense management deprive finance teams of any real insight to ensure a seamless expense management process. This, in turn, leads to financial leaks, bad business decisions, and zero optimisations for costs.

Cloud software come with advanced analytics that takes over the math behind all the essential calculations. With just a click, Finance teams gain data regarding spending habits and patterns across departments, projects, cost-centres, categories, and even individual employees. There's also additional information on the top policy violators and top spenders in each particular category.

Think of just how crucial this data would be to make the right business decisions. For instance, finance teams can look into cost-cutting initiatives with repeated airlines and hotel chains or look for areas in the budget where excessive spending is taking place to put in more stringent rules.

In short, as a manager, you've given just about everything they'd need to help you make better decisions.

  • Enhanced employee and financial productivity

Cloud technology frees your employees' minds from having to be chained to their desks all day. With the ability to work from anywhere, employees can maintain the same productivity levels with just a basic Wi-Fi connection.

Additionally, your existing financial processes get an upgrade with increased transparency, optimisation, control, and planning. With around 70% of the employed workforce requesting to go fully remote by 2025, this would be the perfect time to consider migrating your financial process to the cloud. 

Why this sudden shift in preference? It's because remote work gives employees complete control over their work-life balance to self-manage and create their schedules, all of which couldn't have been possible without cloud technology.

Conclusion

CFM (cloud financial management) is more than just reducing costs. It mainly revolves around how businesses need to embrace the creativity, innovation, and agility these services offer, which help scale your business to new heights. 

A single and unified space where your entire organisation can access all the information they need can genuinely result in remote work becoming more effective and sustainable. Ensure the sustenance of your business and employee productivity by shifting to cloud technology.


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