Financial Planning & Analysis

5 Best Practices for Automating and Scaling Financial Operations

As businesses prepare to scale once again, finance teams are looking to do more with less. Striking a balance between speed and precision can be challenging, but through automation and scaling, you can bridge the gap. As an added benefit, both strategies are important for the long-term financial health of any organization. Let’s review five key considerations to increase the chance of success when automating and scaling financial operations:

1. Start with a solid foundation.

Before automating or scaling any process, it’s important to be sure that it’s worth doing in the first place. Scaling or automating a process that is broken or inefficient will create more problems later, not fewer. So the first step to automating and scaling finance operations is to take stock of the current business process and ask:

Does the current process have a solid foundation, and is it a good candidate for scaling and automation in its current state?

What does a solid foundation mean? It means open lines of communication between finance and other functional departments. It means it eliminates outdated processes throughout the business and that the finance team is thinking proactively, rather than solving problems reactively. Lastly, it means decision makers have access to the data they need in real time.

Before scaling any finance operation, make sure the company is scaling the right way. Prepare a gap analysis to identify weaknesses or deficiencies in current processes. Scaling financial operations is all about small decisions that combine into big impacts. Putting best practices in place now that teams can scale later is the best way drive results.

2. Embrace automation to unlock operational efficiencies.

Scalability doesn’t mean adding people or departments when more work needs to be done. Scalability means empowering teams across the organization to do more by automating. Process automation is one of the most powerful and value-added activities the finance team can initiate. Existing technologies can automate a significant amount of finance and operational activities which can translate into hours of time back to an organization which then can be redirected toward higher value-added tasks.

automating budgeting and forecasting checklist

3. Empower the rest of the company to operate independently.

In order for the finance department to scale its effectiveness, it needs to scale the rest of the company’s ability to make financial decisions quickly and independently using standardized KPIs. In other words, finance shouldn’t be the bottleneck in any decision process.

KPIs should be identified early on for any business of any size. If a business does not have “official” or “standardized” KPIs, then figure out which statistics have the highest impact in decision making for a particular business or industry. KPIs should be also be reviewed periodically especially in rapidly changing business environments. This information will prove priceless.

4. Ensure real-time access to KPIs.

Looking back at the past year or at lagging indicators masks current reality and business trends. Every company should have key KPIs and financial metrics on a dashboard that is easy to update and navigate. With the proper system in place, management can see where they stand in real time.

Learn more about KPIs in these related posts:

5. Unleash impact at scale.

Scaling finance and business operations is about much more than adding headcount or increasing spend. It’s about finding systems that empower all teams to be more strategic without adding additional resources. With planning, direction and thoughtfully implemented automation, finance teams can initiate scale in operations in a way that has a lasting positive benefit for every department and the company as a whole.

Need Support Scaling Financial Operations? Bring in Our Team of Experts.

If you’re thinking about increasing automation and scaling financial operations, 8020 Consulting can help. We apply the intellectual capital, technical expertise and energy of our team to address a range of financial projects for clients ranging from Fortune 50 companies to middle market and venture backed firms. Our team’s financial and operational experience, backed by effective methodology created by our team of nearly 100 professionals, supports value realization and certainty of closure. Contact us to start a conversation, or visit our FP&A page to learn more about our work:

financial planning & analysis services

About the Author

Mike has over 20 years of public company reporting and leadership experience. Prior to joining 8020 Consulting, Mike most recently served as Vice President of Corporate Reporting for Skechers, a global footwear leader, and as Accounting & Tax Manager for Powerwave Technologies, a wireless infrastructure provider. He began his career in tax with Arthur Andersen and BDO serving a wide range of clients and industries, which included real estate, consumer products and high-net-worth individuals. His specialties include financial reporting, general ledger, treasury, FP&A, month-end close, equity, stock compensation, investment and joint-venture accounting. Mike is a CPA and holds a B.S. in Accounting from CSULB and an MBA from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business.

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