The history of financial automation is one littered with cautionary tales and unfinished projects. Anyone who’s worked in finance over the past 20 years will understand the frustration of watching a supposedly game-changing innovation transform into an impossible-to-use and soon-to-be-forgotten white elephant.
It’s a paradox peculiar to the finance department: how do technologies specifically designed to aid with financial reporting and analysis so often produce unforeseen complexities, departmental inefficiencies and errors?
The issue, says Adem Turgut, COO of finance automation software provider SolveXia, is these technologies are usually designed by and for IT and process experts, rather than for accountants themselves.
“When you work in finance, a lot of your day is spent trying to satisfy management and regulators,” says Turgut. “But the tools you’re given to do this are predominantly owned and managed by IT or Centres of Excellence teams.”
While these tools can help streamline processes and reporting, they usually come at the expense of flexibility and departmental autonomy.
“If a manager decides that they want a bit of extra information, or an extra column, finance can’t easily do that,” Turgut explains. “They have to go to another team (for example, IT) and request a change.”
What should be a simple adjustment suddenly becomes a three- to six-month exercise in inter-departmental budgeting and prioritisation. “Business requirements change constantly, so by the time IT executes the change they’re usually months behind,” Turgut notes.
Put finance in charge of processes
The result is that most finance departments still operate almost entirely in Excel. “In the face of those kinds of delays, the only way to keep your stakeholders happy is to do the process manually,” says Turgut.
SolveXia, however, offers a customisable, finance-led suite of automation tools that have been developed to eliminate the need for IT involvement entirely.
“We believe finance departments work best when they’re self-sufficient,” says Turgut. “They own their processes and they control them.”
For SolveXia, this meant starting with the primary unit of most accounting work: Excel.
“Our automation and reporting tools have been designed from the ground-up to integrate with Excel, not replace it,” explains Turgut. “We wanted the learning curve to be almost non-existent.”
“Our automation and reporting tools have been designed to integrate with Excel, not replace it.”
The software is also code-free and entirely cloud-based, so there’s no need to have IT on hand to install anything or maintain infrastructure.
More time and fewer problems
The effect of having such customised, finance-owned automation is, according to urgut, profound.
“Typically, these automated processes can be anywhere between 10 and a hundred times faster than preparing the data manually,” he says.
SolveXia also reduces error rates by a similar factor and offers knowledge-sharing capabilities to help protect companies against key person dependency.
“So often, reports become one person’s responsibility. If that person leaves or is off sick then they take their knowledge with them. SolveXia means multiple people can have access and input to the one process.”
But the true benefit of SolveXia is the one thing financial automation has always promised but rarely delivered: time.
“Accountants are under a lot of pressure to reimagine their roles these days,” says Turgut. “They’re expected to spend less time sitting at their desks filling in spreadsheets and more time doing analysis and helping drive strategy.
“But the only way that they’re going to be able to do that is if they can unshackle themselves from repetitive and manual data preparation. We believe this is where SolveXia can really make a difference.”
To find out more, go to www.solvexia.com or call +61 2 9386 0202