Published Sep 21, 2023

Overcoming Finance and Accounting Burnout with Automation

Laurie Smith

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Content

Laurie Smith

Finance and accounting play a critical role in any business, which is one reason why professionals in these fields are in high demand. So high, in fact, that there’s been an accountant shortage since 2021.

For large enterprise companies, that shortage is particularly dire. Executives at these firms are increasingly concerned about employee retention and satisfaction. One-third of execs highlight that their primary challenge is recruiting and retaining finance professionals. While that’s good news for those finance professionals who prioritize job security, the fact is that accounting is a difficult job prone to burnout, dissatisfaction, and eventual churn.

The Prevalence of Burnout in Accounting and Finance

“Burnout” is more than just being tired of your job; it’s a persistent state of deep exhaustion that comes with many negative mental and physical effects, including high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.

In the accounting and finance fields, burnout is everywhere. According to one recent study, 99% of accountants suffer from burnout. Another survey found that about a third of respondents want to leave the accounting/finance industry due to high pressure, and around a quarter are worried about their mental health.

So, what makes these roles so difficult? According to a recent survey, 42% of respondents in the finance and accounting sectors feel burnout due to heavy workloads. Additionally, 36% cited time-consuming manual tasks as a significant factor.

The proliferation of specialized finance SaaS apps to support quote to cash, A/R, A/P, cash management, accounting close, corporate performance management, (and more) makes finance automation more complex.

Instead of providing valuable insights to boost revenue and profits, finance teams spend considerable time correcting mistakes, matching data, and making decisions based on outdated or unreliable information. Manual processes don’t offer version control, consistent procedures, audit trails, or the ability to scale. There’s an increased likelihood of data inconsistencies in spreadsheets and a persistent risk of errors in financial reports. This leads to low morale because of extended working hours and monotonous, repetitive tasks, ultimately causing burnout.

To attract and retain their most skilled finance and accounting employees, companies must address the factors contributing to high levels of burnout, such as extreme workloads, long hours, and tight deadlines. Finance and accounting automation can improve the speed and accuracy of financial reporting, accelerate cash visibility and financial close, and create confidence in compliance. It achieves this by integrating all siloed financial applications and eliminating repetitive manual tasks

In this article, we’ll examine some of these challenges and discuss how finance and accounting automation can help overcome industry burnout.

Curbing Burnout with Finance and Accounting Automation

Finance and accounting automation is the end-to-end process of integrating fragmented finance SaaS apps to automate repeatable business processes. The key value of automation for these challenging fields lies in addressing the two biggest drivers of burnout: high workloads and manual processes.

According to a survey by the Institute of Management Accountants and Deloitte, three-quarters of finance professionals say that their accounting processes are largely manual. Dealing with manual tasks significantly contributes to employee dissatisfaction, stress, and burnout. In addition, it takes time away from other, higher-level initiatives.

Finance and accounting automation can address several challenges that indicate the need for streamlined processes. Multiple enterprise-resource planning (ERP) instances and third-party tools with integration gaps can lead to data inconsistencies and inefficiencies. Siloed data and disparate processes due to mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations hinder collaboration and decision-making. Slow, error-prone manual workarounds consume valuable time and increase the risk of inaccuracies. A lack of visibility and real-time information for management can impede strategic decision-making. Organizations can overcome these challenges by automating finance and accounting tasks, improving efficiency, and ensuring accurate financial reporting.

A range of finance and accounting tasks can be automated, but the most common and most manual are a great place to start and have high potential for immediate impact.

Automating Quote-to-Cash Processes

The quote-to-cash process involves multiple steps, departments, and moving parts. Automation can help eliminate data silos between CRM, ERP, and CPQ systems and facilitate the accurate flow of information between teams and critical process steps. It can also shorten the path from customer acquisition to payment, which accelerates revenue recognition and improves cash flow—something that’s especially important in today’s economic environment.

Celigo integrates disparate financial and billing applications (and systems) to allow accounting teams to automate billing, order management, revenue reconciliation, and other time-consuming manual processes.

Learn more in our quote-to-cash automation guide.

A typical fragmented quote to cash workflow across fragmented applications and departments

Streamlining Accounts Payable and Receivable

Recent estimates suggest that 72% of finance teams spend up to 10 hours per week on accounts payable tasks that could be automated (and that 4% of manually entered financial data is incorrect).

You can eliminate tedious manual workaround billing, collections, and invoicing by integrating AR and AP systems with your ERP. Automation ensures financial data accuracy and helps you close the books in days instead of weeks, letting you pay out and get paid faster.

Celigo can improve your accounts payable processes by automating FTP transfers of vendor payment files from your ERP to banks, and corresponding acknowledgements and summary files from banks back to your ERP. Celigo’s Cash Application Manager automates cash applications for bank payments into your Netsuite ERP. Your AR department can also work more efficiently with consolidated critical information like account statuses and payment histories and automation capabilities around invoicing, collections, payment reminders, and customer outreach.

See how one of the world’s largest SaaS companies eliminates its manual processes and saves hundreds of hours with finance automation.

Enhancing Efficiency in Procure-to-Pay Operations with Finance and Accounting Automation

Although today’s procure-to-pay processes are extremely complicated, they tend to be managed manually. However, by leveraging automation via integrations, triggers, and pre-built workflows, accounting and finance teams can streamline their procure-to-pay process from start to finish.

The Celigo Platform offers pre-built integrations and templates that help you reduce costly procurement errors, optimize procurement operations, and improve financial visibility and compliance from end-to-end. These integrations also combine disparate departments seamlessly, breaking down silos and reducing time-consuming back-and-forths between vendors and internal team members.

Automate Expense Management

Companies rely on paper and spreadsheets in traditional expense management to handle, pay, and review employee expenses. These expenses often include travel, lodging, meals, and other costs related to official duties. However, they can also encompass work-from-home expenses, software subscriptions, office supplies, and more.

With finance automation, companies can streamline the submission process, eliminate the need for paper, decrease errors, reduce the potential for fraudulent claims, and speed up employee reimbursements. Automating this process offers substantial advantages. For instance, the Global Business Travel Association states that manually processing a single expense report takes about 20 minutes and costs $58 on average.

By automating these tasks, you’ll start taking pressure off of your accountants and finance professionals, increasing satisfaction and boosting employee retention.

Benefits of Finance and Accounting Automation

Improve the Speed and Accuracy of Financial Reporting

Accurate and timely data is the cornerstone of effective decision-making within an organization. Finance automation dramatically reduces human errors, providing teams with reliable figures crucial for strategic planning. By automating finance and accounting processes, organizations can move away from the outdated and error-prone “management by spreadsheet” approach, often resulting in obsolete static reports before they can influence any business decisions. Finance automation also allows business analysts to pull financial data from relevant systems into a data warehouse, bypassing the usual IT bottlenecks.

Accelerate Cash Visibility and Financial Close

By eliminating manual data entry in sales and accounting, you can reduce associated costs by a minimum of 5%. Integrating A/R and A/P systems with your ERP streamlines billing, collections, and invoicing and accelerates payment processes.
Ensuring that sales and billing systems are equipped with accurate pricing and product data is crucial to prevent the issuance of inaccurate contracts. Finance and accounting automation significantly enhances the quality and accuracy of financial data. This shortens the financial closing cycle, taking it from weeks to just a few days on average.

Meet Compliance Standards with Confidence

As a company grows, compliance becomes more complicated. With automation, you can ensure your operations stay compliant even as you scale. Implement role-based access controls and enterprise-grade data security with MFA and SSO and meet global Data Privacy regulations such as GDPR.

Spend More Time on Strategic Initiatives with Finance and Accounting Automation

In the competitive SaaS landscape, innovation is crucial for success. Relying on manual processes consumes valuable resources, leaving little room for strategic planning. A fully integrated and automated financial close system significantly enhances efficiency. It allows finance teams to focus on core tasks, collaborate with sales operations for process optimization, and eliminate concerns about integration gaps between sales and financial systems.

By embracing finance and accounting automation, companies can allocate more time for their employees to develop new ideas and innovate. This increases employee engagement and ultimately strengthens their relationship with the company.