Let’s all admit, 2020 was brutally difficult on businesses and their employees; but let’s also admit our new mantra will be that we’re not going to dwell on the past. It is now about now and it’s all about picking up the pieces and doing what we have to do to not only survive but thrive in 2021 and beyond. With that being said and given we’ve run out of clichés to describe 2020 and the future, let’s look at what specific things finance teams can do in order to make that hope, a reality. Let’s have a look.
Key #1 Reporting and Analytics Must be Part of the Equation
Today’s finance teams are probably now more than ever, focused on a much wider lens. A bigger picture if you will. How can they not be? If they have learned anything over the past 12 months, it’s probably the realization that they are a KEY player in supporting business growth and survival.
Finance leaders as well as the C-suite now view their teams as having an important role in helping their organizations not only avoid disruption but also in playing an important role in giving the business a competitive edge in the future. As the writer-philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Lessons learned is the key here.
Going forward, though finance departments have evolved, they must keep on evolving as well. This isn’t a one and done situation. As such, the ways these teams generate revenue and measure success must also continue to mature. Executing longer-term strategies that will position their organizations for growth and profitability will the be the new battle-cry for organizations that are resolute in putting last year in the rear-view mirror.
Where to begin? Having the right analytics and reporting software in place is a good starting point and will factor heavily in helping them cross the finish line. Why? The value of speed in information. The quicker the availability of information and the level of dissemination into the organization, the quicker the organization can adjust to new knowledge. Data driven decisions become easier to make and measure impact.
Key #2 Quit Talking About Digital Finance Transformation
Some might be inclined to say that if finance teams are not careful, they could easily disappear under the crush of the need to be all things digital. Generally speaking, those that say things like that are still trying to sell fax machines.
Let’s face it, Finance transformation or digital finance transformation, is the best thing to happen to finance and accounting teams since the creation of a pencil with an eraser. Why? It basically comes down to the fact that antiquated finance and accounting systems are no longer adequately supporting the business.
Look, we get that finance transformation can be a substantially challenging undertaking and the scale of the work required to execute “it” effectively can appear to be daunting to even the heartiest of souls. But not taking the next step may cause your company to lose valuable ground to your competitors, a risk you cannot afford in today’s competitive, unforgiving, and truly unpredictable ecosystem.
However, if executed effectively, finance transformation will offer significant benefits, such as:
- A workforce shifting from tedious, manual record keeping activities’ to ‘value creation related to uncovering insight that supports strategic initiatives’
- Enhanced Productivity
- Increased Accuracy
- Process Improvements
With advantages as wide-ranging and substantial as these, is it any wonder why global CFOs are all in on finance transformation?
Factor in cloud-based ERP, automation, cognitive innovation, slicker reporting tools and bleeding edge analytics packages and the opportunities to radically simplify processes and free up your employees to do more strategic and value-based activities, has never been greater. As this transition picks up speed, the capacity of humans to add value will be unleashed. If you fail to get on the Finance Transformation train now, don’t expect it to be coming back into the station anytime soon.
Key #3 Culture Holds the Key(s) to the Kingdom
Automating processes doesn’t mean you just click a button. Building the teams and skills necessary to maximize the benefits of an automated finance function needs to be mentioned in the same breath as the previous two keys. In fact, for many CFO’s, laying the foundation for a “cultural revolution” may be the greater challenge.
If anything, the challenge is multi-faceted. First, you have to sell the vision to the top. It is imperative that you get shareholders and stakeholders to embrace the need to evolve. It’s important to note however that this group fully expects this transformation. So it’s incumbent that the CFOs should be the champion of this revolutionary change, or get left behind.
The reality is that a lot of people have the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality. So, changing the culture to them can appear to be scary and unnecessary.
Thus, the next challenge will be in on-boarding your teams with new or more advanced technologies. They’re going to push back too. When it comes to cultural shifts in the workplace, word on the street is that people love them. NOT. Expect some hearty resistance. Selling the vision early on is critical. Getting buy in from long term employees who understand the basis of and gravity of an adapt or perish type of moment can help make the cultural shift a whole lot easier.
Particularly in the finance space where the threat of RPA, i.e., “robots taking jobs” is all anyone wants to talk about these days, introducing a new technology that may indeed impact people’s lives is going to be met with some pushback. And why wouldn’t it? All these teams have been hearing for the last five years or so is how automation, machine learning, and AI are going to take our jobs. So, is it? Is AI going to eliminate accounting jobs? This white paper on AI in Accounting should help answer that question.
Framing it as an opportunity, and it is, for employees to start thinking about how they can open themselves up to greater responsibility, new experiences, and potential promotions can be music to their ears. You must cultivate the culture.
When your talking about changing the DNA of a company and “the way” they do things it always has to hinge on the value proposition. It’s important for people above and beyond the finance and accounting teams to understand that finance isn’t just a back-room consolidation and reporting function anymore, but that it’s really front and center for the company now. There is nothing wrong with low value processes that can be automated so that you can do more valued and valuable things. The only way to get “there” though, is to get your people on board about the big picture. Get your megaphone out because you are getting ready to be your company’s biggest cheerleader for Company Culture!
As you are working through the issues of company culture, the challenges of finance transformation and the endless amount of analytics and reporting solutions out there. You may want to consider FYIsoft®. At FYIsoft our sole focus is on delivering extraordinary software that dramatically simplifies the financial reporting and analysis processes for mid-tier and large companies regardless of how complex the environment is.