3 ways accounting automation can help CFOs and Controllers thrive

Accounting automation has transformed the roles of CFOs and controllers. Finance leaders today aren’t just tacticians and strategists overseeing the financial health of an organization; their responsibilities have expanded to cover things like corporate planning, strategy, and harnessing the financial and operational data collected by their teams to drive business growth.

Technologies like analytics and process automation are game changers for businesses of any size. From better collaboration to data-driven decision making, real-time access to financial data means that CFOs and controllers can take a deep dive into transactions, cost, and revenues on demand.

But let’s get into specifics. Here are three ways accounting software can help finance leaders succeed in today’s ever-changing business world.

  1. Better collaboration

CFOs and controllers alike know first-hand how important collaboration is in their roles. Through automation, cloud-based accounting software allows you to take meetings to the next level with access to vital information any time, on any device.

While static emails, chat, and phone calls remain the mainstays of communication, finance leaders and their staff are reaping the rewards that come with context-specific chat and dialog capabilities available through accounting software.

These cloud-based tools bring the conversation into the dashboard or reporting screen and give context to the data and information being discussed. You can do everything from viewing and reconcile journal entries to reviewing invoices, planning and rolling out projects, and more, together in real-time.

Having this kind of capability creates a solid foundation for building and strengthening internal relationships, not least because of the trust that comes from knowing that your data is coming from a single source of truth. In short: everyone has what they need to be on the same page.

When many companies were forced to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, these two-way contextual conversations saved time, allowed more effective asynchronous communication, and drove business forward.

“Using accounting automation enables us to know our financial position at any specific point in time throughout the month versus waiting until the end,” says Angela Biermann, Corporate Controller at Nextmune. “It’s very important as it allows us to make quick decisions when necessary.”

On top of that, the kind of two-way communication and data sharing baked into accounting automation software helps deepen partnerships whether they’re with colleagues across the hall or clients across the globe.

  1. Save time and money

Now, data is one of the most valuable resources your business can have, but time is right up there with it. CFOs and controllers need to provide accurate information to executive management teams and company directors regularly, and in a timely manner. That’s where accounting automation swoops in again to make life easier.

Once upon a time, it could take days or weeks to extract data on past transactions, and spreadsheets were manually done and riddled with errors, but automation banishes those woes in a flash. Forward-thinking finance leaders are replacing spreadsheets with dynamic analytics that save time when it comes to consolidating and managing data, and streamlining collaboration to boot.

Beyond that, the perks of accounting automation extend to areas like accounts payable, expense reporting, payroll, point of sale, budgeting and planning, through Sage Intacct’s marketplace partners and open APIs. The level of integration, connectivity, and data sharing capabilities between best of breed solutions and cloud account software has cut out the tedious task of manually rekeying data from one system to another. And, according to the our latest Close the Books Survey, professionals who automate more than 50% of their journal entries close those books 20% faster. That’s more time you can spend doing what you love.

  1. More strategic thinking

Truly effective accounting and finance teams need to not just keep track of past transactions but also make data-driven plans for how to move forward. Cloud accounting software gives you the analytics you need to review and refine your operations and build a more robust strategy for the future.

CFOs and controllers can tap into dashboards and reports to drive strategic initiatives across their organization. With access to real-time data and analytics, you can cut through the noise to focus on trends and outliers. That gives you what you need to determine whether to pull back or expand programs, and plan for year-end audits more accurately.

“We’re able to pull dimensional reports from previous years to identify trends that may impact our business going forward,” highlighted Sophia Shafiq, controller at Red and White Fleet. “We’re able to dissect data, based on each department and within any time period, to see what will best help us grow our business.”

With the evolution of accounting tools and technology, the mission scope of controllers and CFOs has also grown. Accounting automation software empowers finance departments to save time, boost visibility for staff and leaders, and have laser focus on value-added activities that directly impacting the bottom line.

From automating repetitive tasks like purchase ordering workflows to simplifying vendor payments and bank reconciliations, automation allows your finance team to shift its focus away from repetitive admin and towards long- and short-term strategy.