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Far too many finance teams still rely on tedious manual processes to complete essential, but non-strategic work. For example, they manually download CSVs from payment applications, input those numbers into spreadsheets, and then upload them back into an accounting system.

But technology advancements have finally enabled finance teams to automate some of the most tedious tasks on their checklists. In this guide, you'll learn how automation can help you make your finances more accurate, give you time back, and ultimately save you money.

What is finance automation?

Finance automation is leveraging technology, like AI, to complete tasks and processes usually done by hand. With finance automation, you eliminate the need for team members to spend hours upon hours on a task. You instead lean on advancements in technology, such as OCR and machine learning, to automate processes for you.

Imagine this: up to this point, to review spending, you'd have to spend hours categorizing hundreds of expense reports to your GL. To make matters worse, you were constantly reviewing outdated data to make highly consequential business decisions because of this lag. But now, through finance automation, you can glean real-time information on spending, allowing you to fine-tune your finances on the fly.

The result is more precise insights into spending, faster onboarding processes through seamless integrations with HRIS platforms, and the end of expense reports.

Why you should make the switch

One of the biggest hurdles for any team in adopting new processes and systems is plain old inertia. Implementing a new system can often be time-intensive and have a steep learning curve. Unfortunately, finance teams have become reliant on outdated processes despite not being ideal solutions.

You may also be wondering about the ROI of adopting finance automation. Why change if my current systems and processes have gotten me this far?

Put simply, the answer to these questions is accuracy, efficiency, and ease of use.

Efficiency

With finance automation, many of the processes you’ve grown accustomed to get more efficient or disappear altogether, such as expense reports (and we all know how much fun those are). Think about how long it takes you to onboard employees and give them corporate cards. You’re likely onboarding new hires one at a time, a tedious process that, while important, is better served being automated.

Thanks to finance automation, these automatic payment examples can be done in bulk and you can easily set expense policies across the board, saving you precious time.

Ease of use

Modern finance automation tools are designed with ease of use in mind. No need to scramble through dozens of confusing dashboards with ambiguous functionality.

It can be as simple as clicking, dragging, and dropping to complete business-critical tasks such as paying your bills. Modern finance automation tools like Ramp allow you to consolidate your corporate cards, expense management, and accounts payable software into one that seamlessly integrates with your HRIS and ERP for you to manage your spend reliably

Accuracy

Regrettably, given the mass of information finance teams have to process, human error is an unfortunate, but very big reality. According to a report from Ocrolus, this error could be as big as 4%. And with no slowdown in work in sight but few resources to take it on, finance automation undoubtedly can fill in a huge gap.

Technology has only gotten better, more accurate, and quicker over time. And finance automation tools have followed the course. The AI of today delivers data and metrics that are accurate and reliable while still being delivered quickly.

How can finance process automation help you?

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of taking tasks that have, up until now, been done manually and replacing them with automation. Here’s how finance teams, employees and your business can benefit from the switch to automation.

Finance teams

It’s challenging to get an accurate picture of spending when you have to wait for your transactions to sync, sometimes hours later. Particularly today, you need the ability to make quick decisions with reliable, up-to-date information. But up until recently, this has been nearly impossible, particularly with legacy systems that force you to be reactive instead of proactive. With finance automation, spending visibility is instant, allowing you to make mission-critical business decisions in real-time.

Finance teams can also look to benefit in plenty of other areas, such as the issuance of corporate cards and expense audits. With finance automation, corporate cards can be issued in bulk, eliminating the cumbersome process of completing this process one at a time. And when it comes to expense audits, automation makes it easy to surface anomalies in spending and money-saving opportunities at a glance, no need to wait hours for GL syncing.

Employees

For employees, the process of spending usually goes like this:

  • Realize you need a job-critical piece of software
  • Go to your manager and ask them to share their corporate card with you OR spend money out of pocket
  • If you paid out of pocket, manually fill out a tedious expense report and wait an unspecified amount of time to get reimbursed, sometimes days, but more often than not, weeks or months

Not only is this process time-consuming and frustrating, it’s simply not ideal in a modern, agile business. With finance automation, employees can easily be assigned their corporate cards in bulk with predetermined spend parameters.

Once employees make an approved purchase, it syncs automatically to your GL. No more being in the dark about employee spending. This means no more expense reports for employees at the end of the month. This means no more chasing down employees for said reports for finance teams. Everyone wins.

Your business

Every business needs SaaS tools. They’re essential for productivity. But far too often, companies are left overspending on these tools and sometimes duplicating them. Finance automation saves you time and money by automating your SaaS audit process.

Did you know that your business could still complete essential functions with a cheaper tier plan? Did you know that companies like yours pay 27% less for the same software licenses? Automation can surface these insights for you.

Overall, finance automation allows you to make faster, smarter, and more strategic business decisions.

The impact of finance business process automation

The move to automation will significantly benefit finance teams in 2023, but understandably, there are some concerns that this shift will render some job functions moot. While this is a valid concern, adopting finance automation should be prioritized.

Finance automation is a tool that makes finance teams, employees, and businesses more efficient by reallocating time away from time-intensive tasks. A recent PwC report found that automation can help finance teams reclaim 40% of their time. That's a significant amount of time your finance pros can dedicate to more strategic projects, such as reducing fraud and ensuring compliance.

In addition to reclaiming time, automated business processes dramatically reduce the risk of human error on tasks such as expense management, invoicing, and financial reporting. More accurate data and consistent processes give you the confidence you need to make strategic budgeting decisions.

The future of finance is automated

In many ways, a shift to automation in finance was long overdue. Until now, finance teams had become reluctantly reliant and locked into less-than-ideal processes that required too much time, overhead and effort. Employees were stuck submitting tedious expense reports at the end of the month, and duplicate spend was shockingly familiar. Tasks like closing the books, onboarding new employees, and even figuring out whether you are overspending became a multi-day effort. This wasn't sustainable.

But now with finance automation, teams can save time, money and future headaches thanks to intelligent AI that works like the most efficient tool in your finance toolkit.

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Content Lead, Ramp
Fiona writes about B2B growth strategies and digital marketing. Prior to Ramp, she led content teams at Google and Intercom. Fiona graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English. Outside of work, she spends time dreaming about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one day.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.

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