Reliable data identified as key to successful automation

Dun & Bradstreet and the Chartered Institute of Credit Management today announced the findings of a multi-national study on how respondent finance and credit leaders are adopting automation in their departments and the challenges they face in implementing automation.

The informal study found that while 87% of respondents believe automation will improve their respective function’s efficiency in the next three years, most are not leveraging automation to their fullest potential.

“Comprehensive and reliable data was identified as critical to effective automation,” said Tim Vine, European Head of Finance Solutions for Dun and Bradstreet. “Analytics and insight help to realise the reduced operational cost and increased efficiencies of increased automation, and identify new growth opportunities to drive improved business performance.”

Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents are currently using some form of automation within their team processes and believe it is improving their function’s efficiency by giving employees more time for value-added tasks. However, the study suggests that companies are not automating their process to full potential, with 62% of respondents automating less than a quarter of their processes. Billing (43%), credit scoring (36%), reporting (30%) and collections (30%) are listed as the top processes currently being automated in the finance function today.

Philip King, CEO for the CICM shared his views on the findings and said “Implementing successful automation is about employing the right technology to complement specific credit management functions and skills. A principal task of a credit manager is to avert the risk of non-payment, and automation can certainly assist in this task, with the understanding that human intervention based on experience and knowledge will always be required within processes.”

The report’s key findings also include:

Reliable Data & Integration are Essential

Reliable data is the top success factor of automation efforts, with over 67% of respondents citing this as a top need. Integration with other systems (58%) and time (47%) were also listed as top success factors. The key components currently included in automatic workflows are systems integration (42%), scoring (36%) and use of a customer/supplier master file (29%).

Operational Efficiency is a Key Driver

Improved speed of processes is the top force driving the need to automate, according to 68% of respondents. This is followed by cost savings (55%).

Vast Potential Remains within Automation Efforts in Finance

The biggest barriers to automation are integrating multiple systems/tools (32%) funding/budget (26%) and managing disparate data (15%).