Business Technology

Five New Year's resolutions for finance professionals

5 min read

18 January 2018

I don’t want to panic you, but we’re already 18 days into the new year, and while some may already be breaking their New Year’s Resolutions – others may be yet to make them!

To help you with your work resolutions, we’ve been looking back over the past year and reading the predictions for 2018. We’ve distilled these into five resolutions we think will be popular for finance functions up and down the country. What’s interesting is that they reveal that technology is rapidly becoming indispensable to the finance function. Here they are…

1. Become more efficient

When we surveyed finance leaders earlier this year, two things were clear. Greater efficiency would be welcomed and automation was the best way to achieve this desired efficiency. 70 per cent said their travel booking processes were not entirely efficient, 63 per cent reported their employee expense processes could be improved and 57 per cent said the same for their accounts payable (AP) invoice processes.

Greater efficiency has tangible benefits, so it’s a valuable resolution to try to keep. According to a recent PwC report, automation and process improvement in key finance processes can reduce costs by 35-46 per cent.

2. Engage your team

As more and more millennials make up the workforce, keeping them engaged in their work is crucial if you want to attract and retain the best team. Technology is one of the best ways to do this, because it frees them up to do more fulfilling work. Paul Jackson, Head of Finance at Thames Reach, sums up the difference implementing SAP Concur has made like this:
“It’s a difficult, draining job to keystroke enter 450 invoices a month – it doesn’t exercise your mind. Now [we’ve got SAP Concur] my team are spending their time in a more intellectual way, chasing, training, meeting with people one-on-one and having to be creative and come up with solutions. I see people who are more challenged and more fulfilled and for me that’s an important thing.”

3. Get up to speed on legislation

If 2017 was the year of Duty to Report, 2018 is going to be the year of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). They’re two pieces of legislation that affect the finance function hugely, but all the signs are that people aren’t getting to grips with them.

Our own research suggested that 46 per cent of businesses were not aware or only somewhat aware of Duty to Report. And Forrester, suggested 80 per cent of firms will not fully comply with GDPR by the time in comes into force in May 2018.
Getting up to speed on legislation will not only give you peace of mind, it will also give you an advantage over your competitors.

4. Get more visibility on spend

We found out last year that 81 per cent of finance leaders don’t have complete visibility over travel, expense and invoice spend. In many cases, it isn’t that the information isn’t available, it’s just that it isn’t easily accessible.

This lack of visibility leads to problems such as paying suppliers late and paying more than you need to on travel and expenses. It also makes planning and forecasting so much harder. Gaining the visibility you need and harnessing the power of technology to deliver it creates a much more robust and productive business.

5. Lead rather than follow

When we surveyed finance leaders in EMEA companies last year, we found many could be making more of technology. As we’ve already seen, there’s no doubt it offers tangible practical benefits, but there are wider strategic benefits too. Paul Jackson explained the difference SAP Concur had made to the reputation of his team and offers another reason why many finance professionals might be keen to embrace technology:

“Accountants generally have a reputation for being backward-looking because that’s our role. But just having a system that works, takes advantage of technology and can be run on a mobile phone makes a big difference. It puts us on the front foot and gives us self-confidence and a standing in the organisation we didn’t have before.”

So, those are the New Year’s Resolutions we think many finance professionals will be making. What will yours be?