FinTechAutomationCoronavirus accelerates treasury’s digital ambitions

Coronavirus accelerates treasury’s digital ambitions

As the economic effects of the pandemic begins to change shape, treasurers are being urged to digitise their function and safeguard against future concerns

The events of 2020 have shown the necessity of technology within the finance function, from supporting remote working to maintaining cashflow.

As the world returns to business as usual, now is the time to capitalise on that technology and digitise treasury for future success. While manual processes have been a treasury mainstay, automation provides opportunity for real-time insights, liquidity, working capital and general business function.

“The current crisis has greatly accelerated the pace at which companies are moving away from manual processes towards digitisation,” said Christoph Dubies, chief strategy and transformation officer at Serrala, in an email.

“With digitisation, global finance and treasury teams will be able to connect their processes across the systems they rely on and easily capture the information they need to enable additional and more complex automation.”

Of these processes, payments have become more essential than ever, both to support the economy and manage cashflow within the business. In addition, both liquidity and working capital are top-of-mind for many treasurers today, and will remain so in the coming months—key processes that can benefit from digitisation.

“Everything in business starts and ends with a payment – regardless of any crisis,” said Dubies. “Whether received from a customer or sent to a supplier, payments are essential for moving cash into and out of an organisation quickly and accurately.”

Dubies added that due to the importance of these processes, there is a need for treasurers to implement technology sooner rather than later, given the current climate.

“Digitisation is often only in its infancy, but as we see today, it is one of the most important ways to enable global finance and treasury teams to get their job done securely – especially when working from home,” Dubies said.

Given that many finance teams have moved to remote working, and with social distancing expected to continue in some form throughout the year, this can be a turning point for treasurers. However, they need to be certain that they have the right technological solutions and tools to address their function’s specific concerns.

“Stabilising the finance organisation really starts with knowing where your core issues are and where there are opportunities,” Dubies said. At its core, automation is software which often uses ‘bots’ programmed to do specific functions, although there are different levels of automation and artificial intelligence for different jobs.

Intelligent automation offers firms a higher level of automation than would traditionally be found in simple rule-based robotic process automation (RPA). As it uses self-learning algorithms, it can explore data connections and identify patterns, providing treasurers with better insights, Dubies said.

Additionally, as cybercrime and fraud become more sophisticated, automation risk management solutions can help identify and block suspicious payments. These solutions can be tailored to an organisation’s rules, helping catch money laundering and eliminating friction points, thus enhancing process efficiency.

“Take for example, the procure-to-pay cycle,” Dubies explained. “Instead of having the procurement, accounts payable, payments and master data teams working separately on the different tasks, companies can optimise and automate the entire process chain.”

As many employees continue working remotely, automation can also play an important role in keeping processes running smoothly, regardless of time zones or work hours. This also frees up valuable employee time by eliminating mundane tasks, adding value to the function overall.

While initiating change can be a complex prospect, the finance function is uniquely placed within the organisation to push for better, more streamlined procedures.

“Finance and treasury now have a larger voice in advocating for change and what’s necessary, now more than even two months ago,” Dubies said. “This is really a chance for finance teams to come together and drive the change forward.”

For businesses looking to shift to automation, Serrala covers all-in-one order-to-cash and procure-to-pay cycles, as well as treasury management-related data and document management processes.

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