Automating finance processes for profitability

May 24, 2021 | 08:00
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With digitalisation and technology playing an increasingly important role in government, the economy, and society, the time is right to invest in process automation and upskilling.

Under its National Digital Transformation Programme, Vietnam is experimenting with a range of new technologies and models that will change the way people live and do business, with 20 per cent of the country’s GDP to be contributed by the digital economy.

automating finance processes for profitability
Kyle Pham - CFO of US-held private company The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino

The scheme is looking at a number of priority areas subject to digital transformation, ranging from education, finance, and banking to energy, natural resources, and industrial production with the target of creating a stable, prosperous digital country over the course of the next decade.

“The skill sets required from the workforce will change as part of the transition to this new way of doing business,” said Kyle Pham, CPA (Aust.). As the CFO of US-held private company The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino, he has more than 25 years of wide-ranging experience, from Big Four professional practices to executive roles in major e-commerce businesses.

“For example, accounting and finance personnel are now required to have the ability to operate different software including the management of interfaces between systems,” he added. “The ability to identify key data sets and apply the appropriate analyses is of paramount importance.”

Digital solutions that lead to business innovation

Apart from e-commerce and fintech, most market sectors in Vietnam are lagging behind other countries in the application of new technology, although the availability of it is on par, explained Pham.

In getting up to speed in a competitive, digitally-driven market, there is a need to automate various functions across business departments as well as previously disparate systems.

“For example, a centralised data warehouse can store financial and operational data in one location,” he said. “Using an appropriate application such as Microsoft Power BI, a business can also generate tailored management reports automatically, and users can conveniently access these on a wide variety of devices.”

The automation of interconnected processes can also reduce errors in manual entry, and save financial and accounting professionals considerable time, he said: “Consider a finance department that loads information on bank statements automatically to the ledger. Relieving employees from the manual task of data keying means they can use that time to analyse sales data and make recommendations to improve collection and profitability.”

Pham, who has held his CPA qualification for 23 years, demonstrated how to substantially grow customer base using digital solutions at Home Credit Vietnam where he developed an award-winning, online ecosystem that had end-to-end digital applications requiring no human intervention.

As CFO of MJ Group and CEO of NhomMua, a leading group buy B2C e-commerce business, Pham brought the company back from insolvency by developing the company’s own software applications to complement Google Analytics.

These gave management as well as accounting and finance professionals access to sales and customer analytics in real time.

“Relevant analytics were also streamlined to monitors that were placed in our sales department, to drive motivation, and we developed an application that tracked the performance of our delivery drivers with just one touch.”

Technical skills in high demand

While effectively utilising new technology can drive business growth, choosing the right solutions for the task is difficult and requires expertise.

Key infrastructure aspects such as enterprise resource planning, cloud computing, optical character recognition, and report automation software are currently accessible to Vietnamese businesses, but experience in managing the conversion of outdated systems is lacking, says Pham.

Skilful product owners who understand agile methodology, with automation broken down into smaller functional deliverables, are needed to lead automation that delivers benefits to a business progressively.

“But these people are a scarce resource, making it a very competitive employment market.”

Training for finance and accounting professionals in these and other relevant skills is vital, says Pham.

“Professional associations such as CPA Australia conduct regular workshops to assist members in upskilling. In addition, there are members with expertise in these relevant areas who can act as subject matter experts.”

CPA Australia’s Digital Finance micro-credentialled courses equip accountants and finance professionals with the tools they need to apply emerging technologies in a real-world context.

The six courses cover topics ranging from fintech innovations, digital transformation, data analytics, and data visualisation to robotic process automation, machine learning, and AI.

At the same time, CFOs and CTOs, who are closest to the issue of business automation, need the business and leadership skills to drive initiatives, believes Pham.

“Investments in new systems and tools are often perceived as less attractive compared to other competing investments, although the benefits of introducing new technology usually outweigh the costs,” he says. “Senior accounting and financial officers are in the best position to deliver a compelling case.”

“Professional associations such as CPA Australia can also set up special interest groups to facilitate in-depth discussions and dissemination of information.”

In a fast-changing global business landscape, Pham says a CPA Australia designation is a benchmark of quality and professionalism that inspires confidence in employers.

“In fact, without CPA Australia or equivalent qualifications these days, it is difficult to secure senior roles in accounting and finance,” he explained. “Being a member of CPA Australia also means that I can access a vast number of resources to help me stay abreast of market developments.”

CTA: CPA Australia’s Corporate Learning Solutions (CLS) professionals work closely with you to identify your team’s strengths and capability gaps, so we can provide high-quality, budget-friendly solutions, delivered by world leading experts at a time and place that suits you.

Contact us to find out how your team can join them or read on to learn more about our approach. Find more information about how members have benefitted, or becoming a CPA.

Or contact our Vietnam office for more information.

Hanoi Office: or dial 024 6263 4320

Ho Chi Minh City Office: or dial 028 3520 8338


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