We are currently experiencing a historic development due to the still unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and a continuing economic recession, to name just two, which have led to widespread adjustments as we adapt to a new way of life. Numerous changes within the technology sectors, as well as in other areas, appear to be permanent. All companies must rethink their strategies to create sustainable value for customers, partners, investors, employees, and shareholders which have existed for years. Especially the way of improving working in finance departments will change drastically from “high touch” finance processes – meaning a necessary manual involvement in certain process activities – to a fully automated finance process architecture with a ideally zero degree of human interaction (“Zero Touch”).
In this context, the term “Zero Touch Finance” (ZTF) could be defined as the target scenario of an intelligent and automated process landscape within finance, building a major pillar of an intelligent enterprise. It also comprises the approach and related activities within the finance transformation to reach this target state. Furthermore, ZTF comes together with the usage of latest technologies and a high degree of process standardization which will be explained in more detail below.
Why is Zero Touch Finance important?
Navigating into the future of finance: Embracing automation and innovation for enhanced efficiency is the difference from past compared to today. In the ever-evolving landscape of finance, staying ahead of the curve has become increasingly challenging. Disruptive and uncertain markets, coupled with complex regulatory requirements, have made long-term financial planning a challenging task. To overcome these challenges, businesses are turning towards modernizing their finance functions, embracing automation, and redefining their financial processes and strategies. While the digitization and automation of financial processes is nothing new in general, evolving technologies in connection with real-time predictive models support touchless End-to-End finance processes. In this article, we explore the key factors driving this transformation and the benefits it offers to businesses in achieving greater efficiency and sustainability with ZTF.
The traditional approach to financial planning often relied on historical data and predictable trends. However, disruptive markets and unforeseen events have increasingly proven this approach to be inadequate. The new paradigm of "Driving on Sight" entails real-time analysis, adaptive decision-making, and agile financial planning. By leveraging advanced technologies and data analytics, finance teams can better predict and respond promptly to changing market dynamics and make informed decisions. This high flexibility requires a high degree of process standardization.
Further regulatory compliance remains a top priority for businesses and finance departments are faced with the difficult task of ensuring compliance with ever-evolving regulations. Increasing audit requirements demand accurate and transparent reporting, making it necessary for finance functions to adopt modern tools and technologies that streamline regulatory compliance processes.
Next to the mentioned challenges, businesses embrace new revenue models and diversify their operations, finance functions must also adapt to support these changes. A modern and flexible finance function can provide the necessary financial insights and support the implementation of innovative business strategies.
Manual financial processes are not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. By increasing the level of automation in finance operations, businesses can significantly reduce manual effort and improve overall efficiency. Automated workflows for tasks like invoice processing, expense management, and manual data entry ensure accuracy while freeing up finance professionals to focus on more strategic tasks.
Investing in automation and modernizing finance functions may require an initial invest, but it leads to significant cost savings in the long run. With lower maintenance and reduced manual effort due to process standardization, finance teams can allocate resources more efficiently, contributing to a leaner and more cost-effective organization.
Before embarking on the journey of finance transformation, it's crucial to assess the current efficiency of finance processes. By identifying pain points and areas for improvement, businesses can create a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the steps required to achieve their finance transformation goals.
What’s different with ZTF?
Coming back to the term Zero Touch Finance which we defined above as the target scenario itself of an intelligent and automated process landscape and further as the approach and related activities within the finance transformation to reach this target state.
Increasing driving forces behind this finance transformation in recent year encompass cutting-edge technologies, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI) Business Services, which exploit artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost productivity, trim costs, and provide valuable insights into business processes.
Additionally, Process Intelligence utilize data analytics to gain profound insights into workflows, identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies, thereby optimizing operational efficiency. By combining Process Analytics to Predictive Analytics, businesses can leverage data and statistical analysis to forecast future outcomes, empowering informed decision-making and consistency.
Intelligent Applications, another integral component, leverage AI and machine learning to analyze huge datasets and adapt to user behavior, paving the way for process optimization and personalized experiences on a large scale.
Intelligent Technologies supporting Zero Touch Finance
Another important aspect is Intelligent RPA (Robotic Process Automation). While integrating it with Intelligent Applications, merges robotic automation with AI and machine learning, streamlining repetitive tasks and enabling end-to-end process automation, thus liberating human resources to focus on strategic and value-adding endeavors.
Lastly, Situation Handling comes into play by automatically detecting, diagnosing, and resolving process issues in real-time through machine learning algorithms and analytics, identifying patterns and anomalies in the data.
Why accelerating your finance transformation with SAP Business Transformation Services?
The answer to the question of how process optimization should be started, and which financial process areas should be prioritized often cannot be answered in a blanket manner. Our End-to-End process analysis offers a comprehensive solution to scope your ZTF journey based on the biggest improvement needs and benefit potentials.
Step 1: Identify Focus Topics
Our expert team will work closely with your organization to identify key focus areas. Whether it's streamlining workflows, optimizing resource allocation, or enhancing customer experiences, we'll pinpoint the crucial aspects that deserve your attention.
Step 2: Derive Improvement Potentials
Through rigorous data analysis, benchmarks and insightful assessments, we uncover areas for improvement within your existing processes. Based on analysis results, a heatmap with further prioritization of improvement topics is defined.
Step 3: Target Scenario and Architecture
With a clear understanding of your focus topics and improvement potentials, we'll collaboratively define a target scenario and architecture that aligns with your business goals. This strategic roadmap will lay the foundation for a successful ZTF deployment.
Changing and dynamic environmental conditions make a flexible and agile financial architecture indispensable in order to ensure the long-term success of a company. Zero Touch Finance as target state including the usage of latest technologies, intelligent finance functions and a high degree of process standardization and automation becomes a central pillar of today’s finance transformations journeys.