Automation Frees Finance Teams for New Projects

Frank Colich, chief financial officer (CFO) at Rescale, has two mantras that he has followed as he’s built accounting and finance teams over the years. One is that they should automate as many of their tasks as they can and work themselves out of a job — and the other is that by automating, they can move on to things that will grow the company, be fun to do and make themselves look good.

“When we do that and get done with the mundane things faster, we can do the things that are going to put bullet points on our resumes,” Colich said when interviewed for PYMNTS’ “Day in the Life of a Digital-First CFO” series. “Those are the things that are going to advance our careers — when we’re working on fun projects that will definitely drive the business forward, but also really shape the person’s pride to get the work done.”

Making Everything as Paperless as Possible

Colich recalled that when he started his career, paper checks were everything. Once a week, he would get a stack of checks with an invoice paper clipped to it, having to go through it and sign each check by hand. If there was something he didn’t like, he’d send it back to accounts payable (AP). Records for auditors, too, were printed out and kept in binders.

In contrast, Rescale now makes everything as paperless as possible. The company employs software, works online and use automated clearinghouse, wires or other payment gateways.

“I have no paper around my desk, anywhere,” Colich said. “Here, everything is all digitized now. There’s no work paper, there’s no printing out for anybody. You upload all your files to an FTP drive for an auditor, and they have at it.”

A more recent change for many businesses is the expansion of working remotely. Colich said he misses the in-person interactions people have in kitchens and hallways while at the office, but realizes that it’s necessary for many to work from home. He said he makes a concerted effort to have regular check-ins with members of the team over Zoom or Slack.

“Those are the tools we have, and we have to do that, because if we weren’t doing that, the team would never know what the vision is or where we’re driving toward,” Colich said.

Digital Transformation Doesn’t Have a Stopping Point

On the day he spoke with PYMNTS, the finance and human resources (HR) teams at Rescale were preparing to have a virtual get-together. Colich said it’s important that both introverts and extroverts are heard during these meetings.

“I want them all to feel part of the team, part of the company, and that their ideas matter as well,” Colich said. “You have to be very proactive to go ahead and make sure people are feeling they’re part of the conversation.”

Looking ahead, Colich said digital transformation is never-ending and he is always keeping an eye out for how other artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) processes will insert themselves into finance and accounting. One goal, as always, is to speed up the mundane processes.

“I’ll search the internet or talk to my peers, other CFO peers, to see what’s the new, shiny thing out there that’s going to make our lives easier so we could do more value-added projects,” Colich said.

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