Finance Leadership Blog

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How CFO's embrace Process Improvements in Startups and Scale-ups

finance leadership start-ups & fast growth businesses tech time management Apr 11, 2024

The finance function and the many internal reporting requirements or KPI calculations can often become a bottleneck due to outdated or manual processes that consume excessive time and resources.

The issue and solution is not about just buying new software solutions, rather it's about reviewing and restructuring your processes to ensure they truly meet your business needs.

Process automation in finance goes beyond simple tool implementation. It looks into the existing workflows to identify inefficiencies and streamline operations from the ground up.

This might include automating mundane tasks like bank reconciliations or accounts payable, but also rethinking the entire workflow to reduce manual touchpoints.

Current Case Study: Enhancing Credit Control:
One of our clients has a very time-consuming credit control process. We found that the initial communication with clients—sending out reminders and chasing payments has been automated using a SaaS tool that we're familiar with. However, the stages before and after this, such as dispute resolution and final account settlements, are heavily manual and are taking the team many days a week to manage.

By focusing on these components, streamlining and automating where you can a company can significantly reduce the time spent on credit control from four days a week to mere hours.

Strategic Process Review
One effective method to assess the efficiency of your processes is to implement a simple timesheet system for your team. This doesn't need to be overly complicated; a basic log of activities every hour for a couple of weeks can reveal significant insights into where time and efforts are being expended, and more importantly, wasted.

Opportunities for Automation
Upon reviewing your processes, you'll likely find areas that can be automated to enhance efficiency. This isn’t just about replacing manual tasks with software; it’s about rethinking the entire process to make sure each part is necessary and optimally designed. This might mean removing redundant steps or integrating different tasks into a streamlined workflow.

Tackling Duplication and Over-Complexity
A common issue in many finance functions is the duplication of efforts across departments and overly complex processes that have evolved without strategic oversight. Simplifying these can often lead to substantial improvements in efficiency.

Ask yourself: Is every step of this process still relevant?

Can multiple tasks be consolidated?

This simplification not only speeds up the process but also reduces the potential for errors.

Collaborative Process Improvement
Enhancing finance processes isn't just a task for the finance team. Collaborating with operations, technology, and other departments can provide new insights and methods for improvement. These collaborations can streamline processes that intersect multiple departments, significantly enhancing overall efficiency.

Continuous Improvement as a Standard
Process improvement isn’t a one-time fix; it’s a continuous improvement process.

As your business grows and evolves, so too should your processes. This means regularly revisiting and tweaking them to ensure they remain aligned with your business’s changing needs. The goal is to be proactive rather than reactive, anticipating changes and scaling processes efficiently.

Streamlining your finance function through effective process improvements and automation is not just about saving time—it's about enhancing your strategic input and ensuring you can support your business as it scales. The goal is to build processes that are not only efficient but also scalable and adaptable to the changing dynamics of a fast-paced start-up environment.



    1. Have you downloaded your free copy of, ‘Stepping into the role of Finance Director or CFO'?  Download here.
    2. Join our next Workshop on the FLF Framework.
    3. Work with me in the Financial Leadership Foundations course  that includes monthly Q&A sessions where we can discuss all of your questions and how to apply your learnings to your current role. 
    4. Work with me as a Founder needing guidance and support from experienced Finance leaders. Take a look at our guide on Outsourced bookkeeping.





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