Wall Street Journal: CFOs Look to Ramp Up Automation Investments Amid Pandemic


The proportion of companies ramping up globally on automation technologies will at least double over the next two years.


The Wall Street Journal has reported that Finance chiefs are considering hastening investments in automation initiatives to better manage their companies’ finances and operations, despite facing revenue declines stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.


While many finance executives are slashing costs to weather the downturn, some view investments in technology as essential to better equip newly remote finance teams or strengthen other parts of the business.


“For many, the crisis is accelerating the vision that they’ve already had for a long time,” said Michael Heric, a partner in consulting firm Bain & Co.’s technology, media and telecommunications practices. “While it could have taken years or even decades to make that shift, I think you’re going to see it much faster now.”

According to PwC, CFOs are weighing how technology will help ease their transition back to on-site work. Overall, 46% of CFOs say they will accelerate automation and other new ways of working; at least 60% of CFOs in Germany and in Mexico cite automation and remote work among their top-three actions.



Better flow of information results in better decisions


An area that can greatly benefit from automation is data consolidation.


Top-level finance executives typically don’t have direct access to the numbers. If they want to extract a report from their BI system, they turn to a manager or someone from the BI department. If they don’t have a BI system in place, they typically export numbers to an Excel spreadsheet. CFOs are always depending on someone else to get the numbers they want.


The same goes for lower level workers who put together reports. For example, as part of the FP&A function’s monthly or quarterly efforts to produce income statements, balance sheets, cash flows and basically any monthly reporting package, data is exported from various systems. This can be data from an ERP, CRM, GL, HR data, etc.


After downloading CSV files, data is copied and pasted into spreadsheets. Usually additional data that comes from other spreadsheets that were filled in manually such as forecasts, budgets etc. is added. Lots of time is spent manually consolidating data sources into one dataset, and this process is repeated often. Once all data is consolidated, it is manipulated and prepared for final reporting.


The little to no time that is left is spent on the part with the greatest added value- analyzing data, trying to understand the obstacles standing in the company’s way, and identifying what can be done to help the company excel.


Remove the intermediary-eliminate data silos and consolidate with a click.


With Datarails, finance executives have direct access to the figures- data from various organizational systems (ERP, GL, CRM, disparate spreadsheets) is automatically linked to the finance executive’s spreadsheet. With a click of a button, CFOs and Finance VPs can see consolidated numbers drawn from diverse sources. Once it’s all brought together, data can be transformed, manipulated, and examined in Excel or in the Datarails system.


Automate any data preparation process (like consolidations, FX conversions, eliminations, drill-downs and variance analyses), benefit from comprehensive and error-free numbers, and access up-to-date operating expenses. View the full history of a spreadsheet cell, including values and formulas that have changed over time. Strategically plan and allocate future expenditures based on real-time numbers consolidated from your disparate organizational systems.


”[With Datarails] I now have a complete and comprehensive hands-off solution to manage my financial operations data…which affords me additional control and a birds-eye view over the entire process.”
– Rob Grasso, Director of Sales Operations, Bauer Hockey


Invest in technology built by finance professionals, for finance professionals


With Datarails, finance professionals can access and leverage financial and operational data independently, regardless of technical competency. This means the finance team can easily support planning, analysis and reporting needs on-the-go to drive faster and more effective decisions.


End-users keep using Excel while executives benefit from superior access to data and novel insights. With Datarails’ effortless, automated, and accurate solution, employees can spend less time putting the numbers together and more time thinking about what they mean, all without leaving Excel. And while work processes of lower level employees are improved significantly, the C-suite benefits from direct access to the figures, transparency, and accountability. Now that’s a win-win.


About Datarails


Datarails is developing a business augmented intelligence platform for the corporate finance function. Our FP&A solution allows for the connection and centralization of all organizational financial data from various systems (ERP, GL, CRM) alongside Excel spreadsheets and operational data. It also allows for the creation of automated financial reports (P&L, cash-flow, budgets, etc.), as well as thorough analysis of consolidated data for the creation of business and financial insights.