4 ways process automation can create watertight budgets

Budgeting is a difficult art to master. Typically the remit of finance departments, it’s a complex process full of moving parts, especially for large organizations.

Often relying on a great deal of manual work, budgeting can become very time-consuming and is vulnerable to human error. If a budget is too large, it will become difficult to establish the value of your expenses and maintain a steady cash flow. However, if a budget is too small, then this will cause issues like lack of resources and missed targets.

To simplify budgeting, many organizations choose to introduce automation to their budgeting workflows. Automated processes allow finance departments and budget owners to dramatically improve their organization’s efficiency and productivity, creating less manual work for those the workflow touches.

This post will explore four budgeting processes that can benefit most from automation.

1.  Approvals

No budget can be approved without passing through the appropriate sign-off stages. But seeking multiple approvals and making amendments can be time-consuming and delay the budgeting process. If communications break down due to unprocessed approval forms or absent staff, your process will suffer delays.

To reduce the amount of time spent waiting for stakeholders to review and approve documents, the approval process can be automated within a workflow. Automated processes speed up the approval process and ensure that the correct people sign off on budgets, with contingency approval plans in place if the approver is not available. Digital approvals also improve the storage and accuracy of data, creating a clear data trail to keep you prepared for audits.

2.  Visibility

It can be easy for unallocated funds to slip under a budget owner’s radar. Unallocated funds can easily be missed by finance teams, as identifying and allocating them are largely manual tasks which aren’t visible by anyone but the budget owner.

If budget owners don’t notice unallocated funds, no automatic process is able to notify them, causing wasted opportunities. Manual budgeting workflows require a great deal of work and aren’t visible.

When an organization automates their budgeting processes, budget owners can more effectively identify undedicated budget. Automated processes within the budgeting workflow can automatically notify budget owners of their remaining funds and if they’re at risk of overspending.

This allows them to track and manage their budgeting workflows in their workflow application for better control. Not only does automation save time on manual tasks, but it also increases visibility and accountability throughout the organization.

3.  Communication

Budget owners should communicate with finance departments to report their spending, request extra funds, and raise questions. Emailing back and forth with queries and approvals can cause delays in budgeting and extra administrative work for finance departments.

When performed manually, this method is vulnerable to human error. If a colleague misses an email, for example, extra funding may not be allocated. Or a question may not be answered in time, and more time will be wasted trying to fix the problem.

With workflow automation, notifications and tasks can be automatically assigned to individuals, allowing them to track their own work and others as well as being notified when an action is required. Establishing automated workflows which source information from budget owners eliminates unnecessary administrative work for finance workers, ensuring both sides only ever work with the most up-to-date information. This creates a more streamlined and simplified budgeting process.

4.  Reporting

Budget reporting requires a lot of manual work and attention to detail, which can increase the risk of errors.

Manual data entry is highly prone to human error, and inaccuracies can have an enormous knock-on effect. If data isn’t properly collected, recorded, or processed, budget forecasting becomes inaccurate, making any resultant decisions incorrect. Finance departments collect data across multiple platforms, leaving the possibility for unnecessary data re-entry and errors.

Automating the process of data reporting allows workflows to be integrated with your ERP or system of record, allowing data to be extracted directly from the source. When the time comes for auditing, this will ensure that all of your data is compliant. The data from multiple sources can then automatically be stored in a single repository, simplifying reporting for workers. Higher quality reporting leads to better forecasting and more informed business decisions within your whole organization.

Automate budgeting with Nintex

Budgeting and forecasting processes maintain your organization’s cash flow and thus your ability to grow. In order to remain agile and competitive, your business needs the most intelligent process management automation tools available. Nintex offers a platform with a range of applications to automate your budgeting:

  • Nintex Workflow Cloud allows you to create code-free workflows and automate key processes.
  • Nintex Promapp® helps you map out and improve every single process in your budgeting workflows.
  • Nintex Drawloop DocGen® allows you to create form templates that can be automatically generated in workflows.
  • Process Intelligence offers insights and total visibility of your workflows, allowing you to make better decisions quicker.

 

To find out more about how Nintex can automate budgeting to lead your organization towards digital transformation, contact us today.

 

Ben McFadden

Ben McFadden has been Director of Finance at Nintex since January 2018 and is based in our Bellevue, WA, office. He has also been a CFA charterholder since 2012. At work he enjoys automating the mundane so his team can focus on more strategic finance initiatives. When not at work, he enjoys hiking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and traveling the world.