Why you should move to cloud financials

Johannesburg, 21 Jun 2024
Automated connections bring data directly into the financial system.
Automated connections bring data directly into the financial system.

Generally, financial software has always included standard accounting functionality such as general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable as well as other core modules required for standard business requirements. However, one of the primary differences between modern cloud and legacy on-premises software is the speed at which users can gain visibility of crucial information in real-time from anywhere, allowing them to easily stay abreast of important metrics and information.

Fast-moving enterprises understand the importance of real-time information to compete successfully in a digitally connected world. They recognise the risks of delay and the rapid advantages a cloud financial system brings their business. Here are a few reasons why now the time is to move to cloud financials.

The world is going digital. Why wait?

Businesses today need the flexibility to seize emerging opportunities or deal with new challenges rapidly. However, many are held back by disjointed processes and cumbersome systems that don’t quickly adapt to new requirements. Conventional software packages can’t accommodate change without involving consulting and developer specialists. Multi-step manual processes in many instances cannot be automated or will incur significant disruption, costs and risk when developing. Reports cannot easily be updated to track important new business metrics on the fly.

A cloud financial system supports business agility as it offers the freedom to adapt rapidly at the precise moment when it will be most impactful. Finance and operational staff can easily reconfigure workflow processes and access relevant data without needing to call for external assistance.

Automation allows for efficiency and accuracy within the data capturing processes. Point-and-click menus allow employees to adapt reports and dashboards to track and analyse new cost centres, revenue streams or other metrics. The business doesn’t have to hold back on new initiatives anymore because it lacks proper systems to support them.

Would you rather know now or later?

If the business doesn’t have a financial view of day-to-day operations, it cannot implement spend management or control revenue margins effectively. Keeping finance isolated in its functional silo denies access to crucial transactional data that business managers need to inform their decision-making. Every day that action is delayed affects the bottom line and impacts competitiveness in fast-moving markets.

When financials run in the cloud, the data is available in real-time to stakeholders wherever they are. The ability to combine it with operational data and business metrics is even more valuable. Putting finance into a business context allows far more accurate monitoring of how the business is performing. Metrics can be as diverse as customer acquisition cost, customer churn or even tracking specific assets or projects.

Bridging the information gap in your business

Many organisations ‘make do’ with paper-based processes, time-consuming workarounds and spreadsheet consolidations – despite the waste of resources and increased risk of errors. The cost and disruption of upgrades and integration deter them from converting to a more automated system. However, data waiting to be entered or consolidated can’t be made available where needed. These information logjams have a hidden cost that’s growing constantly as the pace of business accelerates.

A cloud financial system that’s designed to work in sync with other business functions can eliminate the need for workarounds and spreadsheets. Cloud systems connect easily and securely to different applications, especially customer-facing systems such as CRM and e-commerce. These automated connections bring data directly into the financial system for end-to-end processing, manipulation and analysis. A cloud system also has the flexibility to run specific capabilities as built-in modules instead of requiring separate specialist systems. Examples include global consolidations, billing, travel and expense management and project scheduling and management.

The power of automation

Up-and-coming businesses gain a significant competitive edge when they harness digital connectivity to streamline productivity and enhance outcomes. More established incumbents find it hard to respond because their processes are rooted in a history of passing paper forms and documents from one department or organisation to another to get things done. These manual processes constantly burn up money – wasting productive employee time on repetitive data input and copying, scanning, e-mailing and physically storing documents that create complex, time-consuming audit trails. Going paperless instantly saves costs, improves efficiency and streamlines processes.

A single, connected system that integrates easily with other cloud-based systems helps an enterprise eliminate time-consuming manual processes and take full advantage of the connectivity and digital features of today’s smart devices and applications. Introducing automated, digital processes for functions such as timesheets, expense claims and billing can quickly improve efficiency, enhance accuracy, cut costs and prevent revenue leakage.

Finding answers faster

Everyone is trying to get more done in the working day, and we are all less willing to wait for answers. Connecting processes and data within your organisation puts the foundation in place, but automation only goes so far. The picture is not complete until your people can communicate efficiently to co-ordinate and react promptly when exceptions arise.

Online collaboration is a natural fit for a cloud-based financial system. When conversations happen in the context of the transactions and documents they refer to, people have the information in front of them to be able to resolve questions quickly and accurately. There is a direct cash benefit to the business as collections improve and orders turn into invoices more quickly.

Preventing fires before they happen

In today’s fast-moving, digitally connected world, enterprises must be on top of their game to survive and thrive. Not just lean and efficient at what they do, but ready to adjust their business strategy in response to new opportunities or challenges that can spring up at any time. The finance team has a pivotal role to play in this strategic thinking. But that’s a big ask when resources are tied up in day-to-day firefighting and meaningful metrics are sparse and slow to arrive.

Cloud financials provide flexible automation that frees up resources while right-time reporting delivers appropriate business metrics. Decision-makers and finance teams are spared time-consuming administrative tasks, becoming free to focus on timely, well-informed strategic analysis and planning.

The challenges and opportunities facing businesses today aren’t getting any easier. This is no time to be saddled with inflexible systems that can’t adapt to change and growth or aren’t able to deliver timely information flows. Every day that passes without making the move to right-time financials adds to the mounting waste of resources and missed opportunities.