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Spreadsheet gridlock: getting from A to B with STP

In a recent poll we conducted with global corporates, over half the respondents confessed to still using spreadsheets to manage their general ledger or accounts receivable processes. When we asked them how long, on average, it takes to allocate and reconcile money received in their back office, 39% said it takes 3 days or more, with 16% taking up to a week. When you’re dealing with high volumes of transactions this has a real impact on working capital.  So how can corporates reduce spreadsheet gridlock, and get from A to B more quickly?

The first step is to lift the bonnet and take a closer look at the systems currently in place. For most organisations, many with different offices in a range of national and international locations, the ability to share and access up-to-date and accurate information across the board is imperative. When using spreadsheets to reconcile transactions, it’s easy to get caught up in information jams where timely sharing of knowledge is hindered through disparate files, folders and processes. Deploying a reconciliation/allocation system that can be used across the enterprise will not only allow the majority of transactions to be matched straight-through, with no manual intervention, but also encourage an environment where visibility, control and auditability are achievable.

One major benefit of adopting an automated system for reconciliations is the standardisation of data across different platforms and departments. In our poll, the vast majority of corporates surveyed agreed that this was the main challenge preventing them from achieving operational maturity (when driving abroad, for example, it’s often confusing to try and understand foreign road signs, signals and customs – imagine how simple it would be if they were all the same). Understandably, for organisations, the task of matching this data up can be a veritable nightmare. The implications of this? Time wasted, costs elevated, and mistakes made. When information is arriving in so many formats, it is important to adopt reconciliation processes that recognise this and take on the brunt of the work on behalf of your personnel, who will be able to focus on exploring and resolving exceptions rather than detecting them in the first place. The key is to find a reconciliation tool that retains flexibility and oversight by not imposing a fixed schema for your data.

Many corporates could benefit from a more efficient handling of account receivables to relinquish their reliance on spreadsheets. It is crucial to understand the benefits of streamlining your firms’ operations into a more simplified process where visibility and standardisation of data are of the utmost importance. In a complicated world where corporates can often get bogged down in disparate processes, it’s important to avoid spreadsheet gridlock in order to achieve full oversight and operational maturity with sound straight-through-processing.

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