Date posted: 21/10/2022 5 min read

Why automation trumps pizza for finance teams

If morale is low in the finance department, it’s often because of outdated IT. No amount of late-night food deliveries can make up for a lack of automation. Brought to you by BlackLine.

“Pizza for people working late only works for so many months,” says Vijay Raghvani, vice president of sales, APAC at financial operations platform BlackLine. “Finance team leaders need to look at the root cause of why people are working late and how they can make office time more productive.”

He warns that such firms need to do it soon because two large ‘icebergs’ are looming in the world of finance. In the short term, the first thing that will put extra pressure on finance departments is a return to office, after two years largely working from home.

“Finance team leaders need to look at the root cause of why people are working late.”
Vijay Raghvani, Blackline

“Staff have been happy to do longer hours while they’re not travelling to work” he says. “As they factor in commuting again, then they’re not going to want to do 10-hour days in the office.”

In the longer term, the looming problem - also linked to COVID - is the smaller pool of candidates that will be available for filling positions.

“COVID has really affected the number of overseas students doing accounting and finance, and that talent pipeline has dropped markedly,” he says. “In five to 10 years’ time the number of graduates will be fewer, there will be far more diversity to candidates and automation will be even more necessary.

Last in the queue

Often the reasons that automation is not already present in finance departments is that they don’t shout about their needs as loudly as their more visible colleagues. A ‘take one for the team’ mentality can exist, where sales and marketing get their needs met first, and the finance team takes up the slack, making do with spreadsheets and manual processes.

“Their problems are then compounded because, while the rest of the business can get their data at the click of a button, requests to finance can take longer than the rest of the business would expect.”

Poor tech can lead to long hours, repetitive manual processes, leading to errors, stress and ultimately burnout. Turnover becomes high, and recruitment is suddenly harder.

“There never seems a right time to invest in the finance department,” Raghvani says, “but I’d argue it’s always the right time. I’m reminded of that cartoon, where the CFO is saying ‘what if we train all of our people and they leave’, and the CEO replies ‘what if we don’t and they stay’.”

He argues that the increasing need for real-time, accurate data to be instantly available means investment in the finance department should be a priority,

“CFO’s need to step up and make the argument for their team. There’s often a tight headcount in finance teams and you won’t retain great staff if you don’t have great tech.”

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BlackLine’s cloud-based financial operations management platform and market-leading customer service help companies move to modern accounting by unifying data and processes, automating repetitive work, and increasing visibility.

It helps large enterprises and midsize companies across all industries do accounting work better, faster and with more control.

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