Helping CFOs forge a way ahead
The role of the CFO has seen real change over the last decade. It is no longer confined to financial stewardship and operational efficiency and now includes a lengthy list of other roles including a business partner, operations manager, innovator, technology lead and strategic advisor too.
Some modern CFOs have achieved all these things, and more and have adapted to the growth of their role. These professionals understand the importance of business partnerships, strategic thinking, and innovation, standardising and automating key finance processes and managing an increasingly complex (and growing) amount of data, not to mention the need for timely and effective internal communication.
However, some CFOs are playing catch up and look set to be left behind. Prophix recently sponsored a survey and report by FSN that sought to identify the biggest challenges affecting CFOs and time, or lack of it, was a resounding concern from across the globe.
Titled ‘The Future of the Finance Function’ the survey indicates a significant gap between perception and what is happening on the ground for CFOs. It reveals that CFOs are struggling to find a balance between their traditional role and the new demands of advisor, strategist and technology influencer. It also highlights that a third of CFOs rely on gut feel when decision-making, two-thirds have not yet mastered the quantity or variety of business data available, and a similar number do not invest sufficient time in innovation and process improvement or business partnering.
It is clear that CFOs need help and guidance to succeed, and that automation has a part to play in freeing up time to achieve the wider and seemingly newer parts of their role. However, automation doesn’t just save time it reduces risk and cost too. Without investment in process standardisation and systems automation, future transformation will be slowed. The costs of this can be great. Staff become frustrated and may leave. Business information and decision-making will be compromised and impaired.
We’ve helped countless organisations improve their reporting processes and importantly, internal communications too. Moorfield Eye Hospital in London automated forecasting and reporting to improve efficiency and communication with other departments. The story is similar with Solar Century, a company that works with investors to develop, build and run solar farms. The introduction of Corporate Performance Management software allowed them to drill down into their data and analyse customer behaviours, which in turn improved the quality of their decision making and informed the strategic direction of its sales team.
Automation delivers the best return on investment when it’s part of a wider holistic vision for a company and where there are the right people with the right skills to drive it forward. For today’s CFO that means people with social as well as technical skills.
The old way of doing things is incompatible with modern, accelerated business. Early adopter CFOs have demonstrated a new mode of operation that enables more agile, dynamic and successful business. It’s now time for all CFOs to follow that path. It is the combination of technology, automation, skills, vision AND relationship-building across the business that will make a bright future for finance.