Automation potential remains untapped within Finance and Accounting (F&A): Study

In a recent commissioned research study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Digital Workforce, findings show that F&A teams are hindered by their failure to adopt automation for strategic success. The study reveals that although many businesses have invested in RPA (Robotic Process Automation), their efforts have not gone far enough to truly digitally transform their F&A processes.

F&A departments continue to grapple with manual, repetitive tasks which result in errors, inefficiencies, unnecessarily high workloads and expenses. 

The business advantages of automation were widely acknowledged by study participants who consisted of North American F&A leaders, 75% of which represented mid-sized and large enterprises with $US250-999 million in company revenue. The majority of respondents were well-versed in the technology's benefits, noting automation's ability to:

  • Improve business insights – 69% use RPA to enhance data and analytics in order to improve the business's ability to forecast and plan ahead.
  • Enhance employee experience – 65% recognize its power to improve employee satisfaction and help to retain talent.
  • Support digital business transformation in order to better serve customers (63%).

However, the research also revealed that most F&A departments are facing challenges in their adoption of automation:

  • The majority of respondents (61%) struggle to generate insights and forecasts. More than half (54%) face difficulties scaling automation throughout a finance value chain.
  • 60% experience difficulties in shifting employees' focus from manual tasks and enabling them to develop new skills.
  • Over half of those surveyed (55%) struggle to manage siloed applications and integrate different systems to gain a holistic view across the entire F&A stack (51%).

As a result of these challenges, nearly 60% of organizations experience inefficiencies in their strategic collaboration with other business areas. Over half (51%) of respondents also reported increased errors, inaccurate reporting and unnecessarily high operational expenses due to lack of visibility over cost-saving opportunities.

Mika Vainio-Mattila, Co-founder and CEO of Digital Workforce said, "Forrester's study aligns with what we see when working with F&A clients. There is still much to do with RPA, but when combined with other technologies (Digital Process Automation, Conversational AI, process mining, etc.) the transformational value from automation increases exponentially.  Strategic use of automation is a must-have for Finance leads who want to transform their F&A business processes and scale automation throughout a finance value chain."

CFOs have a unique opportunity to drive better decision-making, reduce workloads, improve employee retention and save costs. The Forrester Consulting study also found that the majority of respondents (60%) are looking for guidance from technology providers around the governance and operating models for automation use cases.