When you’re in the business of managing millions of dollars in assets, one mistake can mean debilitating repercussions to both company and clients. Worse, it can undermine potential clients’ confidence in your organization, a situation you wouldn’t want to heap upon your business, as managing other people’s money is largely also dependent upon consumer trust.
Needless to say, utmost care is warranted. It’s no surprise, therefore, that financial management organizations follow strict operating procedures involving multiple approvals to keep all requests and transactions on track. But because relying on humans to perform manual, repetitive tasks
oftentimes results in errors – albeit inadvertently, in most cases – more than ever, financial companies are depending on software to eliminate human error and simplify their workflow procedures.
Financial management workflow – some examples
To illustrate the activities involved in financial management workflows, let’s take mutual fund investment as an example. Depending on the investor’s risk appetite, his application to invest in certain funds may either be denied or approved. And then, there would be forms to fill out and submit, and eventually processed by the fund manager for data entry. There will also be the periodic fund performance reports fund managers will have to send out to investors, either through snail mail, email, or via their website.
These are just a few of the usual activities involved. Cross-sell opportunities may crop up here and there, too, such as if the fund manager is also an insurance company, they may offer to insure their investors’ lives or properties, and so on.
What to look for in a financial workflow software
If you’re on the lookout for such type of software to help organize your process workflows, here are five things to keep in mind when considering a financial workflow management solution:
- Audit trails
Webopedia defines an audit trail as “a record showing who has accessed a computer system and what operations he/she has performed during a given period of time. Audit trails are useful both for maintaining security and recovering lost transactions.”
Inaccurate transactional entries, erroneous processing dates, long-overdue approvals – these and others negatively affect the financial process flow. Like a mechanic troubleshooting a car that wouldn’t start, to identify what’s causing process delays or reporting issues, you would have to carefully look into a number of things.
You can, by all means, deploy a separate audit trail software to do the grunt work, but a workflow software with this functionality built into it is a better choice.
- Requests by email
No matter what people are inclined to say about the impending demise of email, email is still a preferred method of communication, not just with outside partners and customers but with partners and colleagues within the organization.
Having a workflow software that can be synced with your email client, either through ready-made integrations or API (application programming interface), maximizes your email software investment.
- Requests from Outlook
For users to successfully adopt a new software, two things to keep in mind are usability and interoperability with third-party systems. Is the software’s interface easy to navigate? Or does it involve intricate navigation protocols that make their lives a living hell? Does it readily integrate with familiar systems?
Users, particularly those who don’t relish being exposed to software with complicated user interfaces, prefer working in environments they’re already used to. Outlook is one such environment, given its wide user base. This is the reason why MS Outlook is pre-built into Comindware Tracker
– so users don’t need to leave Outlook to complete their tasks
, make pertinent requests, manage documents, and collaborate with other users.
- Workflow engine flexibility
There are workflows that would need to be changed overtime, and financial management workflows are no exception. There will also be instances when one-time workflow changes will need to be accommodated, such as an additional approval process normally not warranted.
With classic or traditional workflow systems, any workflow change will require IT intervention, as the additional ad hoc procedure would have to be hardcoded. Adaptive workflow systems, on the other hand, are equipped with a flexibility advantage that empowers users, whether or not they’re coding experts, to make changes, even on-the-fly ones, with drag-and-drop ease.
- Reporting dashboard
For workflow managers, the visibility afforded by real-time reporting dashboards is a godsend.
If you know the status of each task in your financial workflow, you can anticipate bottlenecks even before they happen, i.e., if an approver is on vacation and certain requests (e.g., early investment withdrawals) need to be addressed ASAP, you can assign another person to temporarily take his/her post. In doing so, workflow continuity is maintained, and unnecessary delays are eliminated.
Are there any others you’d like to add?