The Biggest Challenges in the Finance Department in 2021 and what you can do about them

There can be little dispute the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on business. It has created an unexpected strain both financially and operationally and, as a result, a whole new set of challenges have arisen for 2021. But what are the biggest challenges to finance functions in 2021? and does a reliable, efficient solution exist? Events in 2020 have turned the world on its head in many respects, and with it a sudden change for practically every organisation across the globe. Travel and work restrictions, prompted by necessary health measures to physically distance, has seen office desks swapped for kitchen tables and spare bedrooms, whilst boardrooms have become Teams and Zoom rooms. In the face of this ‘new reality’, there has been a need to conserve proven working methods, processes and controls while also providing flexibility for departments to operate in. In terms of Financial Functions, an effective automated AP system provides a reliable and highly efficient solution to these new challenges.

The New Challenges

In December 2020, a survey was carried out to identify the key concerns that finance leaders, finance teams and accounts payable teams expect to face in 2021.

The survey incorporated 140 individual submissions from finance teams in companies based across the UK, Ireland and the USA. These companies were from a variety of sectors, therefore revealed a wide overview of challenges across the board, and were not specific to a single field of operations.

A clear set of challenge priorities for 2021 became apparent:

  1. 56% – Being Efficient as We Continue to Work from Home

With most teams now unable to work closely together, the effect on efficiency levels can of course be detrimental.

To counter this, it is vital to maintain staff morale and efficiency, despite these unusual working conditions, to ensure that standards are maintained and bottom lines are to be met.

An automated AP system was seen as a solution to this challenge.

  1. 32% – Visibility as well as Accurate and Real-Time Reporting

These two concerns were highlighted as equally important by participants to the survey and they are of course closely related.

Participants commented that they wanted to ensure visibility in real-time to managers, board and shareholders regarding the state of the business, during the pandemic. By extension, this means providing accurate real-time reports of the businesses position at various stages within the month.

  1. 12% – Getting the Wider Business to Follow Processes and Controls

The introduction of the work-from-home model has placed pressure on established processes. Whilst controls might remain in place they may not be being followed as accurately as they normally would. This can, it was felt, have a negative effect upon matters of compliance.

How AP Automation Can Help

All three of those principal challenges highlighted within the survey consultation, have provide companies with a considerable extra burden, however this has been significantly lessened if they have invested in an Accounts Payable Invoice Automation solution.

AP automation serves to streamline the invoicing process by removing the physical paperwork previously processed by personnel, improving communication, ensuring productivity is impacted minimally and by giving complete and instant visibility over the process to authorised staff.

From BPMS’s own clients, on average 87% of all invoices and documentation we receive onto our AP solutions are handled ‘hands free’, meaning no intervention is needed at all.

This is delivered from the automatic indexing and storage of incoming invoices to their forwarding to authorised personnel as part of an automated process. Furthermore, our systems fully integrate with existing client systems to facilitate data sharing and eliminating the need for time consuming and expensive double entry.

In turn, our clients’ finance functions operate to the best of their ability with the least amount of wasted time, effort and expense.

The statistics highlight the reliability and efficiency that an automated AP system provides business. Where a company handles thousands of invoices per month, this can translate to much more than time available for more profitable activity, but significant cost savings too.

Click here to book your demonstration of BPMS’s AP solutions and discuss with us how Accounts Payable Invoice Automation can help your organisation take on and defeat the new challenges.