It's no secret that technology is revolutionising the way work is done across all departments within an organisation, and finance departments are no exception. Long gone are the days when finance teams could only rely on Excel spreadsheets. A whole new breed of tools has emerged, each addressing specific needs, but all designed to give finance leaders an edge in supporting their company's growth.
You might be noticing that your legacy financial systems are not keeping up with your team's growing responsibilities and workload, slowing you down and preventing you from becoming the key business partner you're expected to be within your company. Time to join the digital transformation movement and rethink your finance tech stack?
In this article, we will take you through how you can level up your financial operations and processes by modernising your financial tech stack.
Why you should upgrade your current finance systems
There are a few telling signs that your company’s finance system has reached its limits. If you’re noticing that your finance department is experiencing any of the following problems, it’s a strong indication that the team would benefit from a finance tech stack upgrade:
- Many essential but non-strategic tasks need to be processed manually, keeping your team away from focusing on more value-added work.
- Your systems don’t communicate, causing your team to waste time on repetitive tasks and stitching data together.
- You regularly spot and correct errors in your financial models and the words “board meeting” get your thoughts racing and your heart pounding.
- You have limited control and real-time visibility over your financial transactions.
In many ways, a shift to more automated processes, collaborative and integrated tools, and next-gen data analytics would lead to better financial hygiene, greater productivity, more streamlined financial processes, and better-informed decision-making to only name a few benefits.
However, chances are you are still on the fence about taking the final plunge, dreading a difficult implementation or a steep learning curve. While this is a valid concern, remember that there is a cost to inertia: missing out on a world of performance-boosting features and ultimately failing to set your team and company up for success in the future. Also, making the transition is often easier than expected with the right platform.
How to go about building your finance tech stack
With so many options available, selecting the right financial tools for your company can be time-consuming and overwhelming, not to mention sometimes costly if you make the wrong call.
You should approach this effort in a comprehensive, step-by-step manner to get the greatest value out of whatever financial technology you select.
Start with the basics
Because no two companies are alike, it is important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” tech stack. Your company’s finance tech stack must be tailored to meet your specific needs which vary depending on your industry, your organisation’s maturity stage, and strategic priorities.
As an example, companies that are expanding overseas may find solutions that facilitate international payments and currency conversion helpful, while companies that develop multi-subsidiary structures or collaborate with multiple international suppliers will face complex taxing and regulatory issues, requiring special attention to data consolidation in case of audits.
However, the most common building blocks of a modern finance tech stack are:
- Accounts Payable (AP) & Accounts Receivable (AR)
- Accounting/Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Spend & Expense management
- Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)
Evaluate your needs
To begin, make sure you conduct a needs analysis.
How fast is your team growing? What are the most pressing areas of financial risk for your company? What is currently working within your finance and accounting systems? Is your team experiencing any growing pains right now? What pain points can be rapidly solved, and which ones require more time?
Make sure that you choose the corrective measures that will give you the most benefit for your time and effort.
When considering potential technologies, be sure to future-proof your finance stack by balancing short- and long-term needs. The technology stack you choose for your company shouldn't just be geared towards short-term gains but should also align with your company's long-term priorities.
What tech stack features do you need to consider for your business?
To evaluate whether any of the tools you’re considering are a good match for your finance team, there are several factors to consider.
Is the tool easy to use? How does it integrate with your company’s current systems? Does it meet audit and legal requirements? While it’s important to answer the questions mentioned above, consider paying closer attention to the following:
What is the pricing model of the tool? You should estimate the overall cost, taking into account your changing needs as your team grows, any training costs, maintenance fees, and any add-ons.
Additionally, make sure you read the fine print and ask follow-up questions. You may discover that there are hidden charges, restrictive renewal conditions, or automatic payable upgrades.
An online or cloud-based solution will be essential to enable your team to access data 24/7, from any location, whether at home or in different offices. Making informed decisions and being business agile also requires solutions that provide real-time access to data.
On another note, you wouldn't want sensitive financial information circulating in the office cafeteria, would you? Likewise, when it comes to initiating payments, you might want a system that reflects your own internal policies. Solutions like iBanFirst with advanced user access configuration options and granular payment validation rules are the way to go.
3. Customer support
Is there a customer support team? Are they available to help with onboarding and to respond to queries you may have?
Although some tools may seem like a godsend at first, they can quickly turn into nightmares when you have no one to talk to – except an automated bot - when you encounter problems.
Consider looking for tools to integrate into your fintech framework that provide coaching functionalities and ongoing support.
At iBanFirst, we take pride in the level of service we provide to our clients, helping them make the most of our technology and sift through the complexity of currency exchange markets through a team of dedicated Account Managers.
Scale your fintech stack as you grow
As your company grows, so too should your finance tech stack. Whether you’re a startup, a large SMB, or a franchise, new challenges will arise as you grow your headcount, go international, or plan an acquisition or an IPO.
Here's our advice:
- Start simple: In the early stages of building a finance tech stack, focus on the essentials and resist the temptation to opt for the most advanced tools or features just for the sake of it - those fancy bells and whistles might even make matters worse. You’ll want to start with the basics and work your way up. Secondly, you don't want to unnecessarily burn a hole in your budget by going overboard.
- Reassess as you go: Keep a close eye on your tech stack as your company grows and matures. It's just as important to understand when changes should be made as it is to select the right software in the first place. Preparing for the future by keeping a keen eye out for new players on the market will ensure you are ready when the time comes.
Wrapping it up
The benefits of optimising finance tech stacks cannot be overstated: regaining precious time to focus on higher-order work, maximising efficiency and cost savings, and moving away from slow and disjointed decision-making are just a few. Making sure your finance team is well-equipped to stay ahead of the curve in today’s fast-changing business environment is key.
Choosing digital tools can be overwhelming, however, keeping your most meaningful issues front and centre, adopting a future-focused mindset, and iterating, adding layers as you grow, is the best approach.