An organisation's finance department is integral to its growth, whether you are a start-up or a long-standing business. Although the term 'finance department' often conjures up images of money, this department encompasses various duties related to achieving financial stability throughout the organisation. Besides, the role of the finance department will inevitably increase in significance and definition as the company grows.
The below graphic illustrates the various roles and responsibilities of the finance department stacked on the basis of the amount of time and resources they dedicate to each in decreasing order.
As you can see, most finance team typically spends the majority of their time and resource on tasks listed at the bottom of the pyramid.
But why is that?
Well, it's generally because the finance team has to deal with piles of expense receipts, vendor invoices, tax and compliance documents, customer and vendor billing and other legal records. This means they spend countless hours digging through and analysing all of this paperwork. And while paper here is indispensable, this whole process itself becomes a great burden.
Here’s the important question - What can you do to ensure your finance team spends less time at the bottom of this pyramid and more time at the top, where productivity can be highest?
Sure enough, Aspire offers you the perfect solution.
Say you were on a business trip, and as part of this trip, you met with clients, attended multiple conferences, had official dinners and participated in many other activities. But in all the hustle, you miss out on collecting a few receipts despite knowing you'll need them to be reimbursed.
Well, unfortunately, without receipts, your finance team cannot reimburse any business travel expenses incurred as there is no evidence of it. Your company will risk compliance issues if they reimburse employees without receipts since they are essential for tax deductions and audits.
However, Aspire offers your team members the opportunity to spend most conveniently by issuing multi-currency corporate cards. Having a corporate card completely eliminates the need for reimbursements. By choosing corporate cards over cash, checks, and personal funds, all transactions will be recorded instantly onto the platform. So even if you forget the receipt, your finance department will be able to see all transactions in one place. Aspire also allows you to set spending limits, freeze cards, or cancel them anytime by updating the settings. Additionally, your finance team can tag it with the set budgets to better organise your corporate spending.
When you are on a business trip, you have considerable expenses. This means a pile of receipts. By the end of the trip, you would be drowning in receipts which you are expected to carry from place to place. And once you are back, you have to fill in a reimbursement form and attach all the receipts to it.
But filling out forms for all expenses incurred is a daunting task in itself. There is, however, another problem. Nowadays, receipts are printed on thermal paper, and the text fades over time. This doesn’t help because it's necessary to keep receipts for at least five years for tax purposes. Additionally, you may also need them for rebates, protection against unauthorised charges, extended warranties, or item returns. This would require you to find a way to preserve the text as well as store tons of paper for at least five years (for tax purposes) or until the warranty expires.
Why not eliminate the need to store hard copies of receipts?
With Aspire, your finance team can upload receipts and enter claims instantly. Once a claim is entered, it’s forwarded directly to the management team for approval. This would eliminate the intervention of the finance department completely. All they would need to do is export it, with no data entry required. Thus saving a lot of their time and paperwork.
Let's consider a scenario wherein one of your employees uses their personal funds to pay for a company expense. They also pick up the proper receipt for that expense. However, they forget to attach the receipt to the expense sheet while applying for reimbursement.
Now, despite all the tasks in hand, your finance team are forced to constantly follow up with the employee to obtain the missing receipt. While it may seem trivial, late submission of reimbursement claims causes a delay in settlement, which in turn delays all subsequent processes.
However, Aspire helps your finance team identify transactions with missing receipts quickly and easily. If there are missing receipts, a single click is all it would take to send a receipt request reminder to the intended. After this, your employees can upload the missing receipts directly onto the system and avoid manual paper chasing.
Say this time you’ve done everything right. You somehow manage to collect all the receipts, fill out the necessary reimbursement forms and attach the receipts to those forms. What happens next? Well, this document will need to be carried around from manager to manager for approval.
So, there you have it. Did you know paper documents that need approval are physically moved to the appropriate departments within the company? Since it involves a lot of physical activity, it consequently increases the approval time. Moreover, this also increases the amount of time your team spends on a single task.
With features such as ‘customisable approval matrix’, Aspire helps simplify the approval process and ensure a faster turnaround time. Thus, with Aspire, your finance team can set up the internal approval workflow according to organisational policy, so that essential information about each transaction reaches the subsequent approval authority. Your finance team can assign up to three levels of approval to multiple approvers quite easily. So, when a claim request is sent, it is automatically routed to the person who approves it without the involvement of your finance team.
At the end of the month is when all transactions from the beginning of the month to the end of the month must be accounted for. Your finance team must ensure the books are balanced by combining information from multiple systems, reconciling it, and merging it. It also involves recording, reviewing, and reporting all financial transactions.
However, this means gathering all documents, receipts, and other paper records just to verify them once again. If you have a growing business, you can only imagine the amount of paperwork your finance team will have to deal with.
With the click of a button, Aspire allows your finance team to sync card payments, employee claims, and even photos of uploaded receipts. In addition to storing receipts, Aspire’s central repository also keeps the necessary documentation for billing and auditing on hand. This helps your finance team save a lot of time on month-end closing processes, thus increasing their efficiency and effectiveness. And that’s not all. You can integrate all the major accounting software with Aspire, so all transactions are synchronised in one place, and your books are closed twice as fast.
What happens when a company receives a vendor invoice? First, the data in the invoice is checked and filed or manually updated in your digital archive by the finance team. The hard copy of the invoice is then presented to the approver. Once approval is received, it is updated in the digital archive, after which the payment is finally released to the vendor.
The problem arises when your finance team have to manually enter invoice data, verify purchase orders, and file them endlessly. It may not be a big issue if you have only a few vendors. But what happens when the vendor list increases? This would create an inefficient vendor invoice management system. Further, paper-based invoice collection, validation, routing, approval, and payout are very time-consuming.
That’s why Aspire offers a quick and convenient way to upload thousands of invoices through forwarded emails, drag and drop images, or import CSV files. Aspire's automated optical character recognition (OCR) and bill capture technology reduces errors and saves time on manual data entry. So, in essence, once the invoice is uploaded, the data is automatically updated in the system. It is then sent directly to the approver, and once it is approved, your finance team can release the payment without having to leave their desk.
Salary payment is the most common and recurring task for every finance department. In addition, they need to ensure they make payments to vendors on time, especially to those who are critical to the business.
In theory, making payments should be simple. But it’s only so if you need to make just a few of them. Could you imagine making payments to hundreds of people or vendors at once?
Doesn't sound so simple anymore, does it?
Moreover, it takes a lot of time and patience to review all salary documents or vendor invoices, enter the necessary details, and then release the payment.
Aspire, on the other hand, allows your finance team to automate payments in bulk based on the invoice due dates and schedule salary payments. With the documents already uploaded and updated in the system, your finance team can also schedule and approve payments in advance. Aspire also allows payment status notices to be sent to both the remunerator and recipient, thus providing better transparency. Yet again, this will help your finance team save time and optimise cash flow.
And with all the time saved, your finance team can now focus on financial planning and strategic analysis, the top tier of the pyramid that brings in the most value.
Thanks to digitalization and automation, the roles and responsibilities of the finance department are set to change significantly. And with Aspire's all-in-one finance operating system, you can now enable your business to achieve new levels of productivity and performance swiftly and efficiently.