The global survey results are based on responses from 530 international senior finance professionals across 23 different industries. The survey was conducted by global financial research company, FSN, on behalf of BlackLine.
“It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has served to shine a spotlight on finance departments and the stage they have reached when it comes to achieving efficiency gains through automation,” said Claudia Pirko, ANZ Regional Vice President, BlackLine. “Although the benefits of automation are widely understood, progress in achieving them has been frustratingly slow.”
According to the survey, 53 per cent of automation projects that had already been started prior to the pandemic have now been delayed indefinitely until the crisis is over. A further 10 per cent of projects have been cancelled completely.
When asked about the key disruptions experienced during the virus-enforced lockdowns, 46 per cent of survey respondents nominated location-based processes. Over reliance on paper-based processes was listed by 46 per cent of companies while 36 per cent said they were held back because of limited access to on-premise systems.
“If they could turn back the clock, it’s clear that many organisations would have embarked on automation projects within their finance departments well before the disruptions occurred,” said Pirko. “Faced with significant disruptions, they can now clearly see the benefits that automation can deliver. This is why 76 per cent of survey respondents say they can do more or a lot more to automate.”
Guiding investment in automation
The global survey also revealed investments that are currently being made in automation are not being directed at the most important facets of the corporate finance function. Of the executives surveyed, between 20 per cent and 30 per cent have no plans to automate Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting (BPF).
“Of the core processes, the most disrupted has been BPF,” said Pirko. “Despite this fact, this process has seen the lowest level of investment with just 12 per cent of companies currently implementing BPF automation.”
The automation gap
When asked about their overall experiences with automation, only a third of respondents said their projects had met expectations. Just half regularly review automation opportunities on an annual basis and a few never do.
“This 2020 survey has been very revealing,” said Pirko. “It clearly shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight the shortcomings that exist within the finance functions of many organisations around the world.
“Many are now clear on the steps they will need to take to ensure their finance departments can cope with the constantly evolving business conditions that will frame 2021.”
For further information on the survey, visit: https://www.blackline.com/resources/whitepapers/the-future-of-automation-in-the-finance-function/
Companies come to BlackLine (Nasdaq: BL) because their traditional manual accounting processes are not sustainable. BlackLine’s cloud-based solutions and market-leading customer service help companies move to modern accounting by unifying their data and processes, automating repetitive work, and driving accountability through visibility. BlackLine provides solutions to manage and automate financial close, accounts receivable and intercompany accounting processes, helping large enterprises and midsize companies across all industries do accounting work better, faster and with more control.
More than 3,200 customers trust BlackLine to help them close faster with complete and accurate results. The company is the pioneer of the cloud financial close market and recognised as the leader by customers at leading end-user review sites including Gartner Peer Insights, G2 and TrustRadius. Based in Los Angeles, BlackLine also has regional headquarters in London, Singapore and Sydney.
For more information, please visit www.blackline.com