A technology revolution has been underway across many markets, but some industries - such as local and state governments - have been slower to adapt. However, now organizations in these areas are experiencing some rapid change. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a demand for solutions to keep remote and isolated finance teams running smoothly, while new lease accounting standards and deadlines have created urgency around compliance. These sorts of shifts have highlighted the importance of technology and served as a tipping point for many finance teams. In fact, according to a recent Deloitte study, 74% of government agencies said that Covid-19 accelerated digital transformation. But these factors have also illustrated the distance many organizations still need to go in order to digitally transform their finance operations. That same study of over 800 government agencies found that a whopping 80% of respondents believe that their organizations’ digital efforts haven’t gone far enough.
So what is holding these organizations and finance teams back from fully embracing the digital transformation that could substantially impact their operations in a positive way? A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow, primarily due to a “lack of urgency” and poor communication about the strategic benefits of new tools.
Below we have listed 5 benefits finance teams can experience from implementing a technology suite across their team and organization.
5 Benefits of Embracing Technology
Using a cloud-based operating system for some or all of your financial operations makes it possible for employees to view, share, modify, and upload files with other team members and key external partners, no matter the time of day, their location, or the device used. Gone are the days when you had to travel into the office for a meeting to discuss updates to an important document. Now you can simply access it from your smartphone or tablet and start commenting and editing it in real-time. Cloud-based systems also allow businesses to keep financial data, underlying documents, and project communications all in one, central location.
In addition to cloud-based systems, there are many collaboration tools available to help teams efficiently communicate, no matter the distance between them. Using business communication apps, employees can send messages, share files, set up conference calls, and create online forums so lines of communication are kept open at all times. This makes it easier for teams to connect to discuss time-sensitive financial matters quickly (such as invoicing or year-end reporting) and avoid long and unnecessary email trails.
Faster, Smarter Decision-Making
Bringing new technology and tools into your organization can increase productivity and help you make better, faster decisions. This is because decision-making in any context thrives on data, and when better info is available to the decision makers, then informed and knowledgeable decisions can be made. When your team is able to rely on clean, organized, and accurate financial data, you will spend less time combing the data for errors and broken formulas and will make more efficient decisions and analysis. Technology solutions that provide data visualization tools also assist in making faster, smarter decisions by providing a new way to look at your data and analyze it visually rather than just rows in a spreadsheet.
More Automation; Fewer Manual Tasks
When it comes to using technology in business, the first thing that comes to mind is automation, which is used to simplify or eliminate tedious tasks and improve productivity. In one study, over 40% of workers surveyed spend at least a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks, with email, data collection, and data entry occupying the most time. Investing in digital tools can vastly improve the efficiency of an organization, in terms of both time and money.
To evaluate technology solutions that could reduce manual tasks on your team, first identify the weekly, monthly, and yearly workflows and tasks that must be completed. Once the workflows are identified, make a list of the most expensive or most time-consuming areas and use those areas as a starting point for building a business case for technology and finding solutions that meet your needs.
Financial or accounting software can automate manual, repetitive tasks and give your team more time to focus on value-add activities. Do you have a drained and tired finance team who look at simple data management as a chore because they are spending hours updating spreadsheets and creating reports every month? Specialized financial software solutions can generate financial notes, journal entries, debt service schedules, and more in a matter of seconds, so you can focus on maintaining attention to detail on the reports rather than the painstaking task of generating them.
It’s natural to wonder if your data is safe when it’s stored in the cloud infrastructure. Here’s some reassurance though; according to Norton, “Information stored in the cloud is likely to be more secure than files, images, and videos stored on your own devices. Why? Cloud companies often rely on far more robust cybersecurity measures to protect your sensitive data.”
The data that you save with cloud-based service providers is likely safer than the information you've stored on your computer's hard drive. The security measures undertaken by larger companies providing cloud services are typically more robust and powerful than what you have protecting your home computer and devices.
Spreadsheets are also notoriously prone to error. Responsibility for these types of files is in the hands of individual users and likely spread across multiple computers, storage locations, and servers. Spreadsheets are frequently printed out, photocopied, emailed to others, accessed through shared folders, and generally not safeguarded. As lease accounting becomes more central to financial reporting, there must be adequate controls over data security and disaster recovery that spreadsheets do not provide. Software provides password-protected system access that protects sensitive data, and databases allow data access by multiple users at a time and offer different levels of secure access depending on user roles and needs.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Investing in the right technology can help your organization to attract quality candidates and retain high-performing employees. In fact, technology is vital for the success of your hiring, onboarding, and training processes. Further, having up-to-date and relevant technology solutions is important to current employees; a recent Accenture survey tells us that 45% of respondents admitted that their own devices were more effective than the ones provided by their employers. Investing in good quality technology for your employees may be a better financial decision than losing their skills and knowledge to another organization. And with happy, productive employees you’ll also find yourself reaching company goals more efficiently.
For organizations looking to streamline workflows, increase productivity, and reduce employee stress and burnout, turning to digital solutions may be the next step for your organization to take. The rise of technology solutions available in the marketplace can ensure your team is able to find a solution, or suite of solutions, that will meet your needs. If your finance team is not currently using any digital tools or you are not sure how to get buy-in from your organization on the necessity of these tools, check out our best practices article on how to build a business case.
How DebtBook Can Help
As opposed to the typical tools finance teams have historically used to manage their debt, such as spreadsheets, DebtBook is tailored to meet a finance team’s specific needs, pain points, and challenges. With DebtBook finance teams can expedite financial reporting and access better data to improve their budgets, board decisions, rate and fee setting processes, and financial planning for future projects. To learn more about how DebtBook can help your team work towards digital transformation, please contact us to set up a personalized demonstration.