If your finance team seems out of breath, it might be from spending day after day chasing down paper, according to new research from Yooz

The Cloud-based purchase-to-pay (P2P) automation company found in its 2024 Yooz Survey: Leaders vs. Ledger study that a quarter of finance professionals reported spending at least seven or more hours per week tracking down documents and approvals. This adds up to 364 hours, or the equivalent of 45.5 business days per year.

Despite this reality, nearly half of C-suite leaders say they expect 50 percent or more of finance’s time to be spent on strategic tasks–not operational. Only a third of finance professionals said they meet this benchmark.

With these staggering numbers, it’s no surprise that tension is building. Both business leaders and finance teams reported dissatisfaction with each other, centered around a profound misunderstanding of these day-to-day administrative challenges.

Sixty-seven percent of C-suite executives said they’re frustrated by the lack of strategic input from finance teams, which they perceive as a shortfall in their role. But 77 percent of finance professionals feel that their potential to contribute strategically is significantly hindered by a lack of acknowledgment of the extensive operational pressures they face daily.

The one thing everyone could agree on was that more automation is needed. Eighty-five percent of both groups acknowledge that manual tasks significantly limit strategic impact, and manual data entry was identified as the top barrier teams face. 

Eight-seven percent of C-suite and 88 percent of finance teams saw automation as critical for strategic engagement, and the majority of both groups said that improving processes, upgrading technology, and utilizing automation would be more effective than hiring more staff.

According to Yooz’s CEO Laurent Charpentier, finance won’t be able to escape the paperwork hamster wheel unless companies decide to get serious about investing in these strategic measures. 

“Our study illuminates the harsh truth that misalignment between executives and finance teams is standing in the way of organizational success. By embracing automation, teams can finally move beyond manual busywork and leverage technology to enable strategic decision making and direction that executives expect and need to drive the business forward,” said Charpentier.

In a time when eight out of 10 CFOs say they have a talent shortage in account roles, business leaders must take seriously the importance of aligning their organization around common goals and providing the resources necessary to achieve those goals. Automation might just be what out-of-breath teams need to get off the operational hamster wheel and refocus their efforts on providing the strategic guidance leadership demands.