Is your core financial stack maximizing your team’s efficiency while minimizing the risk of human error? Is it delivering the transparency and visibility you need to project and manage cash flow effectively?
Fintech AI and automation aren’t just for SaaS providers. They’re transforming businesses and industries across the board from hospitality to nonprofits. The right finance stack leverages technology to turn small, agile accounting teams into industry leaders.
What is a finance stack?
A finance stack is the set of tools that a business uses to streamline and optimize financial and accounting processes, connecting those processes efficiently to the company’s operations.
Also known as a financial technology stack or fintech stack, a well-optimized stack can improve operational efficiency, security, and accountability while minimizing errors.
Most companies use fintech tools to manage at least a few of their accounting tasks, but an ideal finance stack automates manual tasks as much as possible and integrates those processes into standardized, streamlined workflows.
Six essential elements of a finance stack
As you might have guessed, the core elements of a fintech stack go hand in hand with the core processes of your finance and accounting team. Managing cash flow. Tracking accounts receivable and accounts payable. Making sure bills are accurate and that they receive the necessary approvals. Handling payroll. And so on.
But managing each of these separately, even using fintech tools, is not the same thing as leveraging AI and automation throughout your workflow, using tools that sync with each other to maximize efficiency and minimize the opportunity for human error.
1. Accounting enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
Like accounting software, an accounting ERP helps you track your financial transactions and provides up-to-date financial reporting and analysis.
However, an accounting ERP can also go beyond these functions, tying them more closely to your business operations. It might, for example, integrate with your inventory management system or with your production tracking system.
Many ERP accounting systems are entry points into broader, more powerful ERP systems that can do much more. A small business might start with an accounting ERP, then add on things like inventory management later as they grow.
2. Accounts payable (AP) system
An AP system tracks invoices, automates approval routing according to your custom approval policies, and streamlines the payment process, reducing the time spent on AP and again minimizing the chance of human error.
3. Accounts receivable (AR) system
An AR system automates the processes of customer invoicing and payment collection to improve customer experience while better managing cash inflows, reducing payment delays, and minimizing human error.
4. Spend management system
A spend management system helps a business track and control spending in a way that goes beyond the basic functionality of accounting software.
There are several approaches to automating spend management tasks, many of which are often integrated directly into either the ERP accounting system, the AP system, or both.
5. Expense management system
An expense management system records, tracks, approves, and reimburses employee expenses according to company policies.
This can also include corporate credit cards that integrate budget management tools, applying reimbursement rules and limits automatically.
6. Payroll system
The payroll system manages employee wages, bonuses, tax payments, and benefits.
How an integrated finance stack can help your company scale
An integrated finance stack lets organizations focus on growth by reducing the manual workload of running their finance and accounting processes.
Most companies start out with highly manual processes. After all, it doesn’t make sense to put a fintech stack in place if you’re still in the early stage of your business, don’t have many employees, and only send out a handful of checks each month.
As companies grow, they may decide to put one or two fintech systems in place, such as an accounting ERP, without fully building out their tech stack. Again, that often makes sense, at least for a while.
But over time, processes that are still manual—such as storing paper invoices, chasing down approvals, and mailing checks—become painful bottlenecks.
Cash flow becomes harder and harder to predict and manage. Accounting teams spend more and more time managing operational tasks like paying bills, and off-process tasks like handling a bill that doesn’t look right become more and more stressful.
A fintech stack automates manual tasks—things like entering invoice data, checking invoice numbers for possible duplication, routing invoices to the right people for approval, storing invoices and related communication, and keeping an audit trail of invoice approvals and other touchpoints.
As a result, the company can grow without putting additional stress on the finance and accounting team. In fact, the right fintech stack significantly reduces stress by minimizing the chance of human error while applying clean, easy-to-use systems that keep all the information you need at your fingertips—even if you’re working remotely.
With the time savings of AI-enabled automation, not to mention better insight into cash inflows and outflows, finance and accounting teams can spend more time on the kind of strategic initiatives that fuel expansion.
Building an integrated finance stack
If you want to build an integrated finance stack, the key is obvious—choose systems that sync with each other, especially with your ERP accounting system. And the more those systems use AI-enabled automation, the better.
The best fintech stacks harness the power of AI and automation to handle manual, repetitive tasks like entering data, checking invoice numbers, and applying set rules to your workflow. Once that data is entered in the system, such as the bill amount on an invoice, that data will carry through the rest of your synced stack automatically without the need to enter it again.
Your tech stack should also integrate with payment systems that take most of the effort out of the payment process. The team should be able to decide how and when to pay—by ACH, credit card, check, or even international wire—all from the same dashboard. Even those checks can be printed and mailed automatically.
Also, make sure the systems you choose allow all the various levels of access your team needs. Many companies, for example, give department leads direct visibility into their own department’s profitability. Others might require more than one admin approval to change things like bank account numbers within the payment system.
Although these scenarios are presented as hypotheticals, Bill.com’s AI-enabled automation for AP and AR can do all of these things and more.
The most widely used automated payables and receivables platform, Bill.com is used by more than 135,000 businesses today to automate their AP and AR, and over 3.2 million network members pay and get paid with Bill.com.
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