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Finance teams lose five weeks a year over lack of automation
Fri, 29th Mar 2024

Finance teams are losing out on five weeks in a year, their time consumed by monotonous and recurrent tasks that could be efficiently automated, according to the 'State of Finance Digitisation' report released by Moss, an end-to-end spend management solution. The report provides an insight into the significant degree of under-utilisation of automation tools currently available and lays emphasis on the prospective areas of growth.

The report found that although there is widespread confidence in the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, only 14% of finance platforms actually used these tools to make their work easier. A significant 42% of tasks that could be automated remain manually processed, indicating a clear reluctance to adopt digital automation. A significant percentage (76%) of those surveyed expressed apprehension about how digitisation could threaten job security.

Whilst finance teams acknowledge the need for AI and automation, the survey found many tasks are still being performed manually. Approximately 42% of tasks that could potentially be automated remain manually processed. Expense management processes were particularly under-automated, with 47% of respondents stating this process should be automated, but currently, is not.

Despite 90% of organisations claiming their digital maturity to be either developing or mature, less than half of the finance teams are yet to exploit readily available tools to automate standard financial processes. An astonishing one-third of finance teams still rely on traditional spreadsheets for budgeting, tracking, and forecasting. The average finance team wastes six hours a week on manual tasks, while on the upper end of the scale, an alarming 16% dedicate over 10 hours a week to manual tasks. This unnecessary adherence to out-dated techniques not only drains time and energy but also hampers the finance team's contribution to adding commercial value.

According to the survey, multiple factors have coalesced to hold back AI adoption. The primary reason, as mentioned by 35% of UK finance professionals surveyed, was a shortage of time needed to implement new tools within the finance department. Compatibility issues among tools and software was the second most cited challenge at 31%, followed by the lack of relevant tech knowledge within the finance department rounding the top three hurdles at 24%.

There is a visible apprehension about job security amidst the rising wave of AI and digitisation. The survey indicates a worrying 76% of UK professionals fear digitisation may negatively impact their jobs, a figure far greater than the global average of 56%. This suggests that decision-makers need to be clearer in their communication about new technologies not displacing jobs but rather enhancing them and allowing finance professionals to focus more on strategic, value-adding tasks.

"Finance teams play a vital role in steering companies towards profitability, particularly in today's economic climate," said Ante Spittler, CEO at Moss. He emphasized further that the more finance teams can embed automation into their workflows, the more they will be able to proactively steer their companies towards growth.