Empowering finance to evolve from being solely technical to being commercial in line with the changing expectations is a critical responsibility of finance leaders.
Organisations are continuously changing and finance needs to be at the forefront of providing insights and direction to all stakeholders.
As the demand on accountants continue to widen how do we ensure finance continues to add value while moving away from its traditional role of conformance to one of performance.
Accountants traditionally are concerned with conformance above anything else. As a result they focused on international accounting standards, tax rules and audit requirements. Financial statements needed to be correct and a true and fair reflection of the organisation. During times of crisis this tended to increase, as shareholders & leaders wanted comfort in the figures.
Traditions change and this one has had a major upheaval.
As finance moves from the back office to the front office our main responsibilities have moved from conformance to performance. As a result of this every finance department now has a Financial Planning & Analysis team. These teams now provide insight and support decision making as true business partners.
This change is driving the need for all finance staff including accountants, analysts, financial controllers and CFO’s to change. Skill sets must evolve from a technical weighting to one of commercial.
Finance is now expected to move fast, creating multiple forecasts and strategic plans when in a crisis. The rapid change during a crisis has necessitated a nimble, technology savvy finance team.
COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is a perfect example of how finance needed to do more with less and extremely quickly.
Becoming commercial will ensure you, as a finance partner, can gain insights from activities and provide the insight. This will set your finance team apart and drive the achievement of the organisation goals.
How can you achieve this in a way that adds value to everyone?
Watch this CIMA / GCMA Panel on Conformance to Performance. Hosted by Bloomberg’s at their NYC HQ.
Empower by embracing innovation
The reality for finance is that while we want to become more commercial we must not minimize our technical responsibilities. Finance cannot move away from the responsibility to make sure figures are accurate and a true and fair reflection of an organization’s activities.
Technology is the only way we can ensure we are empowering finance evolve and to move from the back office to the front office and manage their fiduciary responsibilities.
Whether you are part of a large or small, multinational or local organisation there is an enterprise solution for you.
There are more vendors coming to the market with enterprise solutions everyday understanding your need and picking the right option is critical.
But most of all don’t rush into a decision.
From my previous experience there are a few steps to take in the technology journey and getting the best outcome.
Let us focus on the internal finance process to decide what capabilities you need.
This is before you sell this course of action up the line and then select the right vendor. We will focus on the stages of getting buy-in and vendor selection in future articles.
Step 1 – Understand your problems
The only reason you are looking at new technology is because something is not working. Deep dive into these problems and be honest about where they are coming from. It might not just be your technology but also your processes and your people.
Being honest about where you are will ensure that you map all of your challenges. This awareness will enable you to focus on the true catalyst and not just the symptoms.
Step 2 – Plan where you want to be
With this awareness of your problems start to imagine the future. Start with a blank page and don’t hold back. Write down all of the capabilities you want and your organisation needs. Remember you are probably not coming up with a unique idea (which is okay) and therefore it more than likely can be done.
Your ideas are only limited by your imagination.
Step 3 – Design for the future
You now have an excellent understanding of your current problems and what is causing it. Also a clear picture of where you want to be. Now it is time to pause and look forward to where you could be in years to come.
When investing in a system and a vendor it is important to be with one that is also looking at the future. Will you be moving into new markets, new go to market strategies, acquiring companies or looking at robotic process automation. Your enterprise solution vendor needs to be forward thinking and looking to bring a consolidated solution to your problems.
Transactions, Analysis and planning brought together to supercharge your insights.
Take these steps before you delve too far into vendor selection. There are many products out there and they are all NOT the same. Some focus on one area and therefore losing some of the game changing impact you are looking for.
Look out for further articles to help you on your journey of empowering finance to evolve including getting buy in for a technology project.