3 of the Biggest Challenges in the Finance Function in 2021, And Solutions

There can be little argument over the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on business. It has created an unexpected strain both financially and operationally speaking and, as a result, a whole new set of challenges 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 around the globe. Travel and work restrictions, prompted by necessary health measures to physically distance, has seen office desks swapped for kitchen tables and boardrooms for Zoom rooms.

In the face of this ‘new reality’, there is a need to conserve proven methods, processes and controls while also providing flexibility for teams 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, Kefron carried out a survey 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 Ireland, the UK and the USA. These companies were from a variety of sectors, so revealed a wide overview of challenges across the board, and 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

  2. With most teams now unable to work in person together, the effect that remote working has on efficiency levels can be detrimental. Increasing, if not maintaining efficiency, despite the unusual working circumstances, is important if bottom lines are to be met. An automated AP system can be a solution to this challenge.

  3. 32% – Visibility as well as Accurate and Real-Time Reporting

  4. Two concerns were highlighted together by participants, but they are closely related. Participants said they wanted to ensure visibility in real-time to the board and to shareholders about what state the business is in, particularly during the pandemic.

    By extension, that meant getting accurate real-time reports about where the business is at different stages in the month in respect of the business liabilities whenever the information is needed.

  5. 12% – Getting the Wider Business to Follow Processes and Controls

  6. The work-from-home model has placed pressure on established processes. Controls might still be in place but may not be being followed as accurately as they normally would. This can be especially troublesome when it comes to compliance.

How AP Automation Can Help

All three of the principal challenges listed above provide companies with a considerable headache, but only if they have not yet turned to an Accounts Payable Invoice Automation solution. AP automation streamlines the invoicing process by removing the physical paperwork carried out by personnel, improving communication, ensuring productivity is impacted minimally and by giving complete and instant visibility over the process to the authorised staff.

From Kefron’s own clients, on average 87% of all invoices and documentation we receive onto the Kefron AP system are handled ‘hands free’, meaning no intervention is needed at all. In turns, our clients’ finance functions operate to the best of their ability with the least waste of time and effort.

Where some kind of intervention is required, it comes as a result of only a limited number of exceptions. It can be as simple as an invoice from a new supplier, but most often is down to late invoice changes, the absence of necessary data, like POs, or because the invoice has been stopped by business rules.

The statistics highlight the reliability and efficiency that an automated AP system provides businesses with. And where a company handles thousands of invoices per month, this can translate to much more than time, but significant cost savings too.

Click here to book a demo of Kefron AP and discuss with us how Accounts Payable Invoice Automation can help your organisation with these challenges.

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At Kefron we see complexity and make it simple. Our business exists to improve how you manage your information, be it Document Management Services or digitisation of your information. We can make a real difference to your business. This is what drives us.

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