It’s Groundhog Day – again. Time to stop doing the same old same old

In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a man trapped in time, endlessly repeating the same 24 hours. 

You might know the feeling. 

Perhaps one of the reasons the 1993 comedy is so well-loved is that most of us have known the sensation that life has become a bit repetitive – particularly at work. 

Theatre Images

If you and your colleagues find yourself reporting at your desks every morning to go through the same uninspiring routines as yesterday, it might be a signal that – like Bill Murray’s character – you need to change something fundamental.

Groundhog Day in practice 

Groundhog Day takes place on February 2.  

According to a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition, if a groundhog comes out of its burrow that day and sees its own shadow, it will go back underground and there will be six more weeks of winter. Otherwise, you can expect an early spring. 

Groundhog Day celebrations are held in a number of places across the US and Canada, but the one in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is the biggest and forms the backdrop for the 1993 film. 

In the movie, TV weatherman Phil Connors is not condemned to just six more weeks of winter, but to an apparently infinite number of identical days in Punxsutawney. Thanks to the success of the film, any repetitive, apparently futile situation tends to be likened to Groundhog Day. 

Some finance tasks that can seem a little bit Groundhog Day 

Despite all the profound changes that have taken place in the working world in recent years, plenty of people arrive at the office at 9am and start doing the same mundane tasks every day. 

That’s particularly true in many finance teams, where laborious manual tasks often still take place, even though automation can either speed them up or take them away entirely. 

Some of the daily tasks that might have a Groundhog Day quality about them include: 

  • Keying in information from invoices 

  • Matching invoices to purchase order numbers 

  • Manually managing recurring transactions 

  • Answering requests for information from colleagues who don’t have access to the finance system 

  • Dealing with queries from suppliers and customers

  • Processing expenses that come in via paper or email and have to be signed off by a manager

  • Chasing budget holders who need to approve spending

  • Chasing down intercompany transactions in group entities

  • Inputting transactions recorded in other software that doesn’t speak to the finance system

  • Reviewing and chasing aged debtors

  • Performing the bank reconciliation and resolving any inconsistencies between the bank statement and the cashbook

  • Performing payment runs and getting them authorised

  • The long list of routine tasks needed to turn a group of companies’ books into consolidated accounts. 

Moving on from Groundhog Day 

Every item on the above list can either be drastically simplified by software or taken out of human hands entirely.  But there are several reasons why organisations stick with more time-consuming ways of operating.  

It may be that they are still using entry-level accounting software which once served them well but cannot scale with the business. Or it may be that the organisation has been held hostage by the vendors of traditional on-premise software, without a clear route to the powerful features available from a more sophisticated cloud-based system. 

Often, it’s simply the case that people “don’t know what they don’t know”. If you haven’t been shopping for software in the recent past, you simply might not be aware of how much of the everyday work of the finance team can be done automatically. 

Bill Murray – spoiler alert – escaped his own Groundhog Day time loop through fundamental change. Getting a finance team to move on from Groundhog Day processes might also require a bit of a mindset shift. But if you choose a vendor that won’t tie you up in a long implementation process, the change should be easier than you might think. 

Find out more 

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