As we’ve experienced over the last few years, change doesn’t necessarily make everything better, but it has been necessary, and those that fail to embrace it risk being left behind. The global pandemic has accelerated the UK economy to its limit, highlighting the importance of many processes associated with the finance sector. While many innovative and flexible businesses have adapted to these changes, traditional companies are yet to make impactful changes to their organisation.
As we edge closer to 2022, many companies are still reliant on spreadsheets, and finance professionals continue to use outdated systems to perform critical tasks. Many of the financial and procurement processes we have depended on for so many years are simply not sustainable. The rise of digital automation and other technologies has replaced many traditional practices, generating several changes to how finance teams operate. As we approach 2022, several key areas are likely to impact how businesses operate:
The shift towards remote working – The movement towards remote work left most businesses moving away from on-premise technology and exploring cloud and SaaS services that would enable their teams to operate more effectively. While the rapid rise of systems like Zoom and Slack have made communication easier for working remotely, it hasn’t necessarily supported all areas within finance, such as processing invoices and spending management. Financial processes tend to be updated last, which is okay if processes are running smoothly, but in certain cases it can become challenging. With the shift to working remotely, businesses lack insights into what their employees are doing in terms of financial activity. Providing clearer information over business spending and expenses is important, and automated systems can eliminate the hassle connected with managing a decentralised team.
B2C and B2B purchasing
E-commerce has become the main channel for customers and is emerging as a vital platform for B2B purchasing. Employees want to make purchases in stops they know and trust. The remote working environment means alternative payment systems are needed to enable staff to make necessary purchases when required. Utilising a purchase to pay platform means employees can visit the stores they want when needed and eliminates the tedious end of month receipt process, replacing it with a real-time payment system that is critical for financial reporting and managing cash flow.
The progression of fraudulent activity
Cyberattacks have resulted in significant financial damage to businesses and have only heightened with more staff working from home. With many employees cautious in returning full time to the office, businesses will need to find a solution to tackle fraudulent activity. Automated processes for payment processes are improving the time spent and reducing the amount of fraudulent activity in the finance area. The digitisation of financial processes creates visibility and ensures all information is correct, eliminating the need for extensive manual tasks. So not only are businesses more protected, employees can rely on a system that checks all their information in real-time.
Cash flow remains the biggest priority
With furlough schemes now complete, people are questioning how much insight do businesses have in terms of cash flow for 2022? To protect cash flow for the next year, businesses need to tackle operational efficiencies within the finance area. This process includes utilising live reporting, digital invoicing and automation to generate real-time information on their cash flows. Visibility on company expenditure is critical for effectively managing finances but is challenging when employees work remotely, and businesses continue to depend on monthly expense reports.
Gaining day-to-day insights on expenditure, businesses do not need to keep large cash reserves. Historical spending analysis provides a clear view of purchasing, with the opportunity to save money on various services.
Looking ahead to 2022
For companies looking to stay prepared for further disruption, improving the technology in the finance area should be considered a top priority. Automation is now a big demand for most finance leaders. Instead of using robotics to replace employees, the technology is replacing traditional, time-consuming processes that should be eliminated from people’s day to day work duties. While we have experienced a shift in our working environments, it doesn’t mean we lose touch with finances. Cash flow and expenditures are still vital areas, and staff need to be equipped with the right resources to generate real-time information. Next year will be a crucial time for finance, and businesses will need to ensure they are prepared and resilient to potential industry changes.