Finance Team Problems in 2023 – An insight from over 200 discussions.
As we hit mid-March, our team has spoken to more than two hundred Finance Teams this year, some looking at AP automation, some at other challenges.
So what is driving change for Finance Teams so far in 2023?
With covid now largely behind us, the need to facilitate financial processes across a remote team is still a popular requirement, but it’s no longer a leading concern. Focus has shifted back to specific features that solve specific problems, leading to efficiency gains, improving control of spend and increasing visibility. Here we outline the problems trending in our conversations.
1. The need for something easy to use
Not just a driver for change, but almost every conversation we’re having at the moment orientates around a system that is cumbersome, impractical or confusing. Finance systems are for the finance team, but anyone in the company may need to approve an invoice, receipt a delivery, or make a purchase request. Helping companies find a system that’s clear, simple, runs alongside their finance system, and requires no end-user training is a huge win for them.
2. Not just Purchase Orders, Approvals, and Invoices, but paying the bills too!
More and more teams are asking about this, 4 in 1 AP has been a regular discussion so far in 2023. So many are using multiple systems to automate your Accounts Payable department, wouldn’t it be great if there was one, easy to use system? One that did POs, Approvals, Invoices with OCR, and even paid the bills, all under one roof? The time saving alone can be staggering for some companies, not surprising it’s a growing subject for discussion.
3. Smaller companies are getting bigger, and they need a PO system.
Purchase Orders aren’t always necessary, especially so for smaller companies, we find a small team can discuss spending with the right people easily. As they grow, they inevitably get to a point where technology can provide a better way to monitor what money is going out the door, and control it if necessary.
4. Not enough time to key all the invoices into Xero/Sage/QuickBooks/etc.
Still a classic, and often a symptom of growth. Whether processing 10s, 100s or 1000s of invoices each month, quite often companies either get to a point where they can’t do it, or just realise that technology can provide an easier way. That said, we’ve spoken to some admin teams who can key documents into a system at unbelievable speeds, but features like digital storage, reporting, duplicate detection, and batch payments still make automation a huge win.
5. Visibility of spend against budgets
Allocating spend to budgets as a requirement has shot up in popularity. We’ve spoken to non-profits who are categorising spend against funds, real-estate firms tracking spend across different buildings, and theatre companies allocating spend to different productions. For them, providing visibility and accountability is key, but finding a tool that is easy to use that can facilitate this is tricky.
6. Controlling rogue spenders, and learning to say no
The need to tighten up the approving of spend. Often approval may need to be escalated due to the value of spend, the department it’s being purchased by, or the customer it’s in relation to. Making sure the right people approve spend it one thing, and making it quick is also a key requirement. Teams are looking for informed approval from the right people, ideally in real time.
Zahara is software that plugs into your finance system, it makes it easy for finance teams to automate their AP process with the latest technology.