Your Guide to Microsoft Copilot for Finance

Managing accounts and turning data into insights has never been easier than with Microsoft Copilot for Finance. We show you how this tool helps your finance teams work more productively and efficiently.
14.05.24 Charles Griffiths

Managing accounts often becomes more challenging as businesses grow and customer bases increase.

ERP software products like SAP Business One ERP or Microsoft Dynamics 365 help streamline general ledger and accounts receivable management, but greater data loads and the demand for deeper analysis mean more powerful tools are needed in modern finance.

Copilot for Finance helps finance professionals automate tasks and improve productivity. Users can apply for early access from February 2024 and its official release is scheduled for May 2024.

We’ll walk you through its features so you can decide if Copilot for Finance is right for your business.

Getting to Know Microsoft Copilot for Finance

Copilot for Finance creates a bridge between your company’s ERP system and Microsoft 365 apps.

Its users can review financial information without having to switch between different apps, making it easier to stay up to date with the latest account developments and improve client communication.

Copilot for Finance connects to the Dynamics 365 Finance app and supports direct integration with a number of SAP ERP systems. Moreover, connector presets available in Copilot Studio enable you to integrate the AI companion with over a thousand ERP systems.

The features include variance analysis (still in development), financial reporting, and data visualisation, but the bulk of its features are intended for streamlining collections processes in Outlook and financial data reconciliation in Excel.

It functions like an add-in in both apps, so businesses can choose the 365 app they want to use with Copilot for Finance.

Streamlining Collections with Copilot for Finance in Outlook

Deploying Copilot for Finance is simple; you just have to install it as an add-on in Outlook and connect it to your company’s ERP system.

You can install and manage both add-ons from the Microsoft 365 admin centre, so once you complete the installation process you can configure its settings and choose the users with access to the AI companion.

Let’s look at what your company’s collection team can do with Copilot for Finance in Outlook.

Accessing Overdue Invoices in Outlook

Copilot offers plenty of help for finance teams in Outlook. For instance, when composing emails they can instruct the tool to pull all overdue invoices from the company’s EPR system connected to a customer’s account.

Copilot then lists all outstanding invoices and includes the following information in the invoice header:

  • Voucher or invoice ID
  • Due date
  • Promise-to-pay date
  • The amount due
  • The invoice’s currency

Aside from providing a collections officer with the basic information about an invoice, Copilot also enables them to take the following actions:

  • Attach the invoice to the email.
  • Download a copy of the invoice.
  • Change the invoice’s status based on the current progress of the dispute.
  • Update invoice dispositions.
  • Add an estimated promise-to-pay date to an invoice.
Copilot faqs

Using Copilot to Check Customer Details

In addition to pending invoices, Copilot for Finance draws customer data from the EPR to help collection officers get up to speed with the account details and enhance communication with a customer.

The customer cards it generates in Outlook have four sections including the section that displays the account’s unpaid invoices:

Customer information – The section shows a client’s address, industry, and legal entity.

Aging history – Copilot uses preset period groupings from the Dynamics 365 Finance app to generate a graphical summary of the account’s aged invoice balances.

Related activities – Recent activities linked to an account and stored in Dynamics 365 Finance are displayed in this section.

These features give members of a company’s collection team quick access to information they need to assess the most appropriate course of action for a particular account and help them personalise their communication with clients.

Summarising Email Threads and Drafting Emails

Managing hundreds of accounts means that collections agents must check and compose vast quantities of emails daily, which affects their productivity and prevents them from dedicating their time to more important tasks.

Copilot for Finance speeds up this process by generating contextual email drafts based on previous messages in a thread and the information about the client it pulls from the ERP system.

Replying to a customer’s email or composing a new email with Copilot is straightforward.

All a collections officer needs to do is open the Copilot for Finance app in Outlook, write a short prompt that tells it how long the message should be and which tone of voice to use and click the ‘generate’ button.

The tool offers the ‘regenerate’ option in case the agent doesn’t like the result and wants to fine-tune the text further before adding it to the email draft and sending it to the customer.

Creating and Updating Contacts in an ERP System with Copilot

Data entry is time-consuming, especially if you must add dozens of new contacts to your organisation’s ERP every day. Copilot for Finance streamlines this process by allowing its users to create new contacts in Outlook in just a few clicks.

Copilot adds all new contacts to the ERP automatically, eliminating the need to go through the same process twice. The contact card contains the client’s first and last name, their title, the name of the company they’re representing, email address and the phone number.

Collections agents can easily update a customer’s contact information with Copilot for Finance in Outlook and it will add the new information to the ERP system.

Using Copilot for Finance to Reconcile Data

Installing Copilot for Finance in Excel unlocks features that simplify the management and interpretation of vast amounts of information.

Its data reconciliation capabilities enable collections agents to compare two data sets within the same Excel workbook and automatically update the mismatching information. Users can choose the data they want to reconcile in both worksheets and the AI copilot will automatically update each sheet.

The tool analyses data structures within the workbook to suggest optimal reconciliation rules and mapping methods for monetary columns and key types. Accountants can filter the rules Copilot suggests and select the ones that best fit the reconciliation process they’re currently working on.

Moreover, users can modify, remove or add reconciliation parameters to meet the task’s requirements. Copilot for Finance generates a report for each reconciliation task it performs, giving accountants insight into unmatched, potentially matched and perfectly matched transactions.

The tool generates summaries of the results of the reconciliation process that contain tips on how to resolve the inconsistencies between datasets and detailed information about reconciled transactions.

The tool’s variance analysis feature is still in development, and it is expected to become available after the AI companion’s commercial release.

Signing Up for Microsoft Copilot for Finance Preview

Businesses that want to test Copilot for Finance must sign up for the preview on the official webpage. Microsoft announced that it should be generally available in May 2024. So far, the company hasn’t released any information regarding its price. It’s currently unclear if the tool’s commercial version will offer more options than the preview or when features like variance analysis will become available to users.

Modernising Your Business’s Collection Processes with Microsoft Copilot for Finance

The first view of the features Copilot for Finance offers indicates that it has the potential to drastically improve a company’s collections processes.

Its automation options put all the information accountants need to raise disputes, chase delinquent accounts, and send email reminders to customers with overdue invoices. Moreover, Copilot makes it easier to reconcile large amounts of data and generates comprehensive reconciliation summaries that reveal information about data inconsistencies and suggest steps to resolve them.

Copilot of Finance is still in its early stages and the scope of its capabilities will become clearer after its release in May 2024. Until then, you can get a taste of its features by signing up for the preview.

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