In a recent blog, we talked about how people and businesses are getting to grips with technology. As the adoption of cloud services increases exponentially and the barriers to remote working are removed, how do you keep productive and compliant?
For those working across tax and finance departments being productive isn’t just about sharing and updating a few Excel spreadsheets before passing them over to a colleague. Keeping work on track is about meeting deadlines, especially when they’re set by tax authorities or clients. Being able to meet expectations and deliver on projects is still as important as ever, so how do you keep track of progress when you and your colleagues are working remotely and keep processes moving?
Through workflow management, you can assign certain actions with deadlines across your entire team. This approach will enable you to follow a process so that one person knows they need to complete a certain action before it passes over to another colleague – effectively using parts of your software as a virtual in-tray. Rather than being cumbersome, managing tax and finance processes through workflow will mean that you can effectively control and manage workloads as well as approvals. This can all be done through a set of rules aligned with the processes of the company and applied to the roles of individuals. It can also be used to ensure that staff only operate within their level of authority – for example, only authorising transactions of a certain value, and whether they are allowed to make minor and rounding adjustments. It is perfectly possible to do this all whilst working remotely, ensuring your team or department remain compliant across both company and tax authority policies.
The joy of introducing workflow is that it can be broken down into straightforward steps. Let’s take a really simple example – if a supplier creates an invoice and submits it to your manufacturing team, they will then forward it on to your finance department where it will be approved, ideally against a PO, and processed for payment. That in itself is a workflow. Of course, that’s oversimplified when it comes to tax and working on year-end results but the processes are there and by creating rules the opportunity for mistakes decreases dramatically.
Workflow may have seemed superfluous when you could call across the office to your colleagues but those days are gone, for now. Today’s systems will send you prompts and reminders to complete your particular part of the process. It sounds simple but as we rely on technology more (and one another) these tools and practices will help us to become more effective in our work and ensure this remote working becomes seamless rather than stressful.
One of the other benefits of workflow, when we are all having fewer meetings, is that it helps us have a clearer picture of our workload, and helps us determine where to focus our attention on any given day. That is something that is much harder to do when working remotely. It also has the benefit of ensuring that things do not fall through the cracks: it can be very easy to miss something when you are not having regular meetings, or a more senior colleague is regularly checking in with you – the pattern and rhythm of daily work life has suddenly changed and some of the cues we didn’t realise we relied on to remind us of things are no longer there.
The way in which we work is now different but that doesn’t mean we have to take risks or complicate our processes. With the right technology, businesses can support their workforce to do their best, to support colleagues across departments and across countries all while continuing to remain compliant.
This post was created in response to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on tax and finance professionals. For more information to help support you and your business, visit our COVID-19 resource center.