Digital Transformation of the Finance Function in VSEs and SMEs

Finance is a pillar function of any company, and it has not escaped the digital transformation that is revolutionizing businesses. It is even at the forefront of digitalization. CFOs of small businesses looking to optimize their accounting processes and improve data quality now have a number of tools at their disposal that are tailored to the size of their business.

Automation of the management of accounting processes

The “old accounting”, based on manual entries, is outdated. Time-consuming, it consumes significant resources that could be much better used for high value-added tasks. Moreover, it is a source of errors – often difficult to detect after the fact – which can greatly affect the company’s performance.

The automation of the various accounting functions, from the dematerialization of invoicing to the management of employee payrolls , as well as themonitoring of suppliers and financial reporting, allows for significant savings in time and information reliability.

Today’s solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning allow the CFO to optimize the finance function by speeding up procedures and gaining analytical depth.

The importance of quality data for the CFO

For a long time, CFOs of small and medium-sized businesses have not had access to the same quantity and quality of information as those of multinationals, often due to a lack of resources to analyze the data.

The digitalization of the finance function allows them to catch up: business intelligence solutions and process mining tools are particularly well suited to the accounting department, and their advantages are numerous:

  • Reduction of management costs (estimated at 70% on invoicing, among others)
  • Better data quality
  • Fast error detection
  • Tenfold increase in analysis possibilities
  • Automatic reports generated instantly with up-to-date data

There are many software products (Tableau Software, Power BI, Qlick) available to small and medium-sized businesses that give them access to the same tools that large companies enjoy, allowing them to gain performance and reliability while retaining the flexibility of small businesses.

The role of the finance department in the digital transformation

Due to a lack of knowledge of the subject, some people are worried about this digital transformation, fearing that their role in the company will be diminished by the automation of processes. No, even the most powerful software can’t replace a CFO!
On the contrary, its position is strengthened by the new tools. The digitization of accounting allows him to avoid tasks with little added value, and therefore to have more time for the in-depth analysis of reporting tables. With reliable and up-to-date information, he can focus on data analysis and manage his department more efficiently.
The CFO is therefore a true leader of the company’s digital transformation, both at the time of its implementation and afterwards, when his field of action is extended and he can accompany the projects of other departments.

Preparing teams for the digitalization of the accounting function

The digital transformation leads to the disappearance of certain functions, but also allows the appearance of new ones!

This evolution is expected by some employees but is frightening for others who wonder if they might lose their position and are therefore reluctant to change. However, accounting departments are often among the most open to change. They are used to adapting to regulatory changes that regularly affect their daily lives.

The CFO must present to his teams the benefits of digital transformation, both for the company and for each individual employee: time saving, possibility of evolution, more motivating work. Communication is therefore essential.

The same applies to training: each employee must be able to familiarize himself with the new tools before using them, and learn the new tasks that will be assigned to him.

How to succeed in the digital transformation of your company’s finance function?

The benefits of digitalization for the organization are now well known and nobody questions them. But that doesn’t mean it’s a smooth ride.

The digitalization of the finance function and of the company in general is a large-scale project that must be carried out in a thoughtful manner to ensure a gradual transition:

  • Step by step
  • Set up a realistic timetable, leaving room for unforeseen events
  • Take the time to train the teams
  • To be accompanied by specialists
  • Be agile and flexible

This last point being often the strong point of VSEs and SMEs, which moreover are companies on a human scale where there is a real link between the employees, they often succeed in their digital transition without great difficulty, provided of course that the other aspects are not neglected.

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