Finance processes best suited for cognitive tools

As the finance function comes under increasing pressure to shrink costs, support growth and provide business insights, there is enormous potential for cognitive automation to support CFOs and finance directors in informing strategy and making suggestions in real-time.

Cognitive automation gives organisations a competitive advantage by meeting the key challenges today’s finance function faces. Here’s how:

  • It radically improves cost efficiency
  • It helps Finance remain in control of a constantly changing environment
  • It allows Finance to focus skilled resource on driving value creation for the business.

Implementing intelligent technologies allows CFOs and finance directors to easily ask questions of their data analytics to make educated decisions with confidence. But how can CFOs ensure they are implementing cognitive automation so it delivers economic success? The best results can be achieved when artificial intelligence is applied to the right processes. Finance can take full advantage of automation by allowing cognitive technology to…

  • Take the guesswork out of sales forecasts. A missed forecast can lead to low employee morale, potential job losses, weaken shareholder value and ultimately compromise the success of a company. Cognitive automation enables finance teams to make more precise predictions by collating accurate revenue forecasts in real-time to paint a clear picture of a company’s financial data.
  • Simplify invoicing. Matching incoming payments with invoices has long been a frustration for accounting teams – spending valuable time tracking down missing information and who’s paying for what. However, cognitive automation can combat this persistent headache by reading documents and searching for relevant and missing information to match payments with invoices, freeing up employees to spend time on higher-value tasks.
  • Help CFOs answer more questions in boardroom. Finance teams often say they are drowning in data but starving for information. When the board is asking questions like: “How do you plan to grow the company?” “What’s holding growth back?” “Are there any uncertainties facing the business?” and “What are the greatest areas of spend and return?” making sense of the data to answer these business-critical questions is often hopeless. Cognitive automation can solve this dilemma by turning the tsunami of data into meaningful answers the board needs.
  • Unlock unstructured data. Cognitive automation can identify underground trends impacting businesses. From unlocking rich insights from sources like social media, emails and even call-centre transcripts, artificial intelligence holds the key to helping Finance develop and scale customer-centric services to advance their competitive position.
  • Take care of continuous accounting. Finance teams no longer need to sweat the small stuff – daily accounting transactions, budgeting and compiling spreadsheet reports. Instead, cognitive automation will do the work so they can focus on providing informed insights and delivering higher-value inputs that add real benefit to the business.
  • Handle strategic risk management. Cognitive computing lends itself particularly well to risk management, as threats usually include unlikely or unclear events. Cognitive capabilities are surpassing traditional analytics to tackle massive data sets by identifying any indicators of known and unknown risks.
  • Complete sophisticated planning and forecasting. Artificial intelligence can save employees from days of historical data analysis by scanning reports and compiling results in seconds – even while employees are sleeping. Thanks to cognitive tools, Finance can respond and adjust to changes in the economy and across industries incredibly fast.
  • Meet the increasing demands of stakeholders, investors and boards. Producing corporate reports which satisfy the needs of key stakeholders in the business is critical. Cognitive tools can pull the relevant data from multiple systems to present meaningful data which helps stakeholders make informed decisions on how best to grow the business.

How ERPaaS can help

With our cognitive intelligence platform, you can:

  • Easily validate invoice data to ensure the format is compliant and consistent.
  • Answer more questions from the board with reliable and error-free data that’s been automatically validated and compliance-checked.
  • Unlock more unstructured data within emails and FAQs for analysis. Questions are then automatically answered or redirected to the appropriate department without human input.
  • Focus on higher-value tasks that demand your attention whilst automation takes care of continuous accounting.

Contact Colin King on 01463 710 816 or email info@erpaas.com today to find out how ERPaaS can drive value creation for your business.

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Why unconventional appraisals work

 The world of performance management is changing rapidly, but the way we manage our people hasn’t yet caught up. Many frontline managers are still relying on old management practices that are no longer effective or contribute to challenges with productivity. Let us show you some ways to freshen up your approach to appraisals…

The traditional performance appraisal – based on an annual rating system – is fundamentally flawed and disparate from the values-based, vision-driven and collaborative work environments that many organisations claim to have.

We now live in a world where business moves too quickly for annual reviews to be effective, and where people want immediate and meaningful feedback. By removing ratings and switching to more frequent, less formal check-ins, people can develop faster without the fear of having to justify a rating at the end of the year.

There are various approaches managers can use for different situations to motivate, engage and retain their employees. Here are a few ideas to help you shake things up:

  • Monthly 1-2-1s. Some workers need goals once a month or even once a week (depending on your industry). Have regular catch ups to assess how employees are feeling about their current workload and whether they need more goals to work towards. Frequent communication helps with employee engagement and development as managers better understand how their people are doing.
  • Quarterly team performance reviews. Work is happening in teams more than ever, and many people are involved in multiple teams that often spread around the world. This makes it difficult for managers to accurately know their team members’ performance, with employees doing work managers don’t see or even understand. Setting team goals to align every team member allows managers to correctly assess performance to set goals for the next quarter.
  • Annual performance review. If done and managed properly, annual reviews can work. There’s no need to get rid of them completely as they can build a culture of trust among employees and managers. Use data for the whole year to talk about an employee’s performance and help them work towards their longer-term career goals.
  • Real-time feedback. Whenever it feels right, it’s always good to give employees real-time feedback so they can improve their performance fast or feel appreciation in the moment. Regular reviews and feedback are needed so employees can constantly improve their performance and enjoy their time at the company.

Let’s look at a few companies that have changed their performance reviews:

Google exercises peer reviews so it doesn’t rely on management to collate feedback. Instead, it gathers realistic feedback from the people on the ground.

Zappos’ reviews are always linked to the company values to ensure the culture thrives via its employees.

Gap adopts monthly coaching sessions called GPS (grow, perform, succeed) between management and employees instead of annual reviews.

GE has a performance tracking mobile app that allows employees to make text and audio notes, attach documents and upload handwritten notes so managers can collaborate on progress and goal-setting.

Happy meeting

If your current appraisal process isn’t working for you then think about an approach that feels right for your employees and company culture. Once you’ve found a solution that works for you, there are eight things you should always practice when it comes to conducting reviews:

  1. Transparency – set clear goals from the get-go
  2. Recognition – remove any fear by starting off with a positive
  3. Create an action plan together – start mapping out goals with the employee so they have a sense of ownership
  4. Set personal goals – what are their career goals and how can you help them?
  5. Take notes and follow up – note down everything you’ve discussed and follow up to make sure everyone is on the same page
  6. Gather regular employee feedback – make regular check-ins to ensure everything is on track
  7. Focus on behaviour, not personality traits – it’s easier for employees to accept feedback on what they do rather than about who they are
  8. Use as much data as possible give employees real-time feedback that’s more accurate.

 

Four things frontline managers can do to reduce absence

Managing and reducing absence is tough. Especially when your absence policy isn’t consistently applied across the business and managers default back to approaches that ‘work for them’. We’ve listed four simple ways frontline managers can easily, accurately and speedily manage unplanned absence.

  1. Schedule return to work calls, welfare calls and reminders.
    When someone is on long-term leave, return-to-work management can be complex and costly. Implement the right processes by recording sickness absence, keeping in contact with sick employees, planning to help employees adjust to returning to work, and coordinating the return to work process to support them to stay in work.

Solution: ERPaaS eradicates the problem of paper and collates all the information to automate the steps that need to be taken for anyone returning to work.

  1. Deliver a personalised approach for every employee.
    When dealing with absence, managers need to take into consideration an employee’s specific circumstances, as well as their history. It’s important that managers don’t just default to approaches they’ve used in the past – they need to apply a policy in a way that treats employees fairly and uniquely.

Solution: The ERPaaS Absence Management Solution helps managers follow the right approach for different situations by guiding them through HR policies and accessing their records so they can make quick and fair decisions.

  1. Support employees with mental health issues.
    Mental health is a growing contributor to absence, and is costing UK businesses 91 million days a year. If you think someone is having mental health issues, try to pin-point the underlying issue to reduce the risks of any working conditions (i.e. unfair workload, bullying etc.), monitor wellbeing and follow up at the right times to help improve their welfare, performance and presenteeism.

Solution: The ERPaaS Absence Management Solution helps managers follow and manage the process to make better, more informed decisions about dealing with different mental health issues and problems.

  1. Enable staff members to report in sick on their phone.
    Implementing a self-service system for employees means they’ll be able to do more of their administration themselves – easing the burden on managers. A major advantage of enabling employees to report in sick via an app on their smartphone is it provides timely and accurate information.

Solution: Our app gives your employees 24/7 access from any device, anywhere.

How to reduce unscheduled absence

“We’ve never had more tools to manage absence, but does your organisation have the skills to make the right decisions?” Asks Andy Fisher, Human Resource Product Manager at ERPaaS…

Unscheduled absences of any kind can be hugely disruptive to productivity, and while they remain a fact of life in the workplace, reducing absence isn’t as simple as it sounds.

People miss work for a variety of reasons from childcare and eldercare pressures to illness, injuries, and increasingly mental health issues relating to stress, burnout and even bullying and harassment. Mental health is a growing contributor to absence and is costing UK businesses 91 million days each year (Centre for Mental Health, 2015).

But with so many reasons behind absence and an array of tactics to deal with them (see table below), it’s no surprise that today’s frontline managers can feel overwhelmed when it comes to dealing with absenteeism.

Approaches used to manage short-term absence (% of respondents)

*Approaches used to manage short-term absence (% of 880 respondents). Taken from CIPD Absence Management: Annual survey report 2016

According to the CIPD, 93% of organisations have an absence and attendance written policy in place but many businesses are still turning to dedicated ‘absence management’ teams, with 11% nominating absence case managers for short-term absence, and 22% for long-term absences. But this approach doesn’t solve the problem of absenteeism as it takes the decision away from frontline managers who are best equipped to manage it.

A smarter approach to absence management
At ERPaaS, we’re supporting frontline managers by helping them use artificial intelligence to make better, more consistent decisions when dealing with unscheduled absence. We’re preventing them from falling into the trap of defaulting to familiar responses and approaches so they make the right decisions for individuals at the right time. We believe that’s the only way to truly tackle and reduce rates of unscheduled absence.

We’d love to hear about your experiences of dealing with absence, so please leave a comment below.

Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about how our intelligent platform can help you improve the implementation of HR and absence policies, email us at info@erpass.com or call us on 01463 710 816. You can also complete our contact form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.