November 15, 2022
Insights

Driving profitability with finance automation: insights from a new Forrester Consulting study

The pressure is on: Business leaders are being asked to squeeze more out of every minute and dollar in 2023 as companies scale back on headcount and downsize their growth plans. They're looking to their finance chiefs for help: What channels lead to the most favorable burn multiple or capital intensity ratio? How can the business further lower its unit economics?

In theory, finance automation should give all employees within your organization access to this kind of business intelligence. But results have been mixed. One in two finance teams struggle to translate insights into actionable outcomes. Over half battle to identify real-time cost-saving opportunities for their organization. 

How are leading organizations using finance automation to create leverage and drive better decision-making? We commissioned Forrester Consulting to find out. Their study, “Design Finance Automation To Drive Operational Efficiency and Profitability,” shares actionable insights on how leaders can sharpen their automation to drive better margins in 2023. 

Effective automation increases employee autonomy  

Forrester conducted an online survey with 407 finance operations technology decision-makers for the study, with the majority of responses coming from mid-market and enterprise companies ranging from 150 to 999 employees. The report finds, “Successful finance transformation occurs when agility is a core principle.” 

What does agility look like in practice? 73% of survey respondents point to autonomy for employees to make spending decisions for their work. It’s not enough to automate paperwork like invoice processing. The best automation enables better information flow between finance and business teams. It allows employees at all levels to easily request project funds and for finance teams to get full context on how those funds will be used before spending takes place.

Intelligent automation integrates systems and processes 

Plenty of automation point solutions exist but the lack of integration between solutions has been burdening teams with additional work rather than insights. Over half of survey respondents say their companies struggle to integrate disparate systems for a more holistic view of finances. Nearly 60% agree integration is necessary to align finance teams and other employees for better efficiency. 

As a result, 74% of respondents are looking for finance automation partners that provide a comprehensive suite of solutions in the coming year. For instance a spend management platform that consolidates card expenses, reimbursements, checks, ACH, and wire payments allows finance teams to track spending with far better precision and keep expenses within compliance. When everyone has the same real-time visibility into company spend, they’re able to make better and faster decisions together.

Successful automation improves employee experience within and outside of finance 

Savvy finance leaders know it’s not enough to just equip employees with insights; they need to help their teams act on those findings as well. But Forrester notes, “Existing processes and tools position finance more as gatekeeper than trusted partner.” One in two finance leaders reports current tools waste time for non-finance employees and don’t provide an easy user experience. 

Business leaders who prioritize ease of use in their automation can expect greater efficiency over time. For example, modern expense management tools allow employees to submit receipts and memos via text and automatically match them to transactions. This eliminates the need for redundant expense reports and speeds up monthly close for the finance team.  

Upgrade your finance automation to drive greater efficiency and profitability 

In the face of scarce headcount, finance automation can be the difference-maker for your organization's productivity. The best automation opens up information flow between teams, connects systems for richer insights, and serves everyone in your organization, not just your finance team. These are the principles behind the automation we’ve built at Ramp. Download the Forrester Consulting study to get the full set of insights on future-proofing your enterprise's finops. 

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Head of Content, Ramp

Fiona brings over 10 years of content experience in product design, marketing, and support. Prior to Ramp, she led content teams at Google, Caring.com, and Intercom.

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