As a CFO you’re probably well aware that your finance department is working with a plethora of tools designed to elevate their work and the value they provide to the enterprise. Yet despite all the investment, you’re not seeing results. Your finance organization is still struggling to deliver the strategic value you expect. Yes, AP may have gotten quicker and accounting may have gotten more accurate, but that’s just par for the course. Where’s the insight, where’s the analysis, where’s the value-add this technology should deliver?
It’s a question many of your peers are asking as well. And a big reason why is that the technology finance is using is failing deliver. Now that’s not to say your teams made a bad decision. That ERP module they pitched might have been the best tool on the market at the time. But that was then, today it just doesn’t stack up.
So let’s look at five compelling reasons it’s worth investing in next-generation tech highlighted at a recent executive roundtable hosted by Tradeshift and Conduent and led by Rajib Gupta, Finance, Accounting & Procurement Client Solutioning and Advisory at Conduent, Balaji Abbabatulla, Senior Director, Analyst at Gartner, and Tim Annis, Director of Banking Alliances EMEA at Tradeshift.
1. Automation, what automation?
The baseline promise of any technology is that it makes life easier. And in the finance sphere, that means automation. Technology should eliminate repetitive, manual tasks and facilitate as much automation and straight-through-processes as possible.
Unfortunately, a lot of legacy technology doesn’t deliver this. It might in a vacuum, but when you place it into a complex and dynamic environment like your business, it’s just too rigid to deliver real results. Instead, your teams automate what they can and fall back to paper and spreadsheets once the system grinds to a halt.
What this really means is that they're spending far too much time on process-driven work, and not enough time thinking strategically about how they can help propel the business forward.
In many cases data doesn’t just drive your business—it is your business. But few finance functions are able to harness the wealth of data they’re sitting on. This isn’t through lack of trying, it’s simply because the tech they have in place isn’t designed to harvest it.
This means that your finance teams are making important decisions without understanding the full picture. Thankfully, your team are world-class operators whose instincts are right more often than not, so there’s no great risk of any disasters occurring. But, imagine what value they could create if they’re armed with a full arsenal of data-driven insights. That’s what’ll make your world-class finance team best-in-class.
3. Hello, do I know you?
The best finance teams work together. Treasury is aligned with accounts payable, accounts payable is aligned with procurement, and so on. And everything they do is focused on one thing: working together so finance is influencing strategic decision making in the company.
Reality doesn’t look like this in most companies. Instead, what you have is a set of teams that are working to meet their own goals and pointing the finger at others when things go wrong.
This isn’t strictly a technology issue. But, one of the main reasons these silos occur is because the different teams in your finance organization are all working off different systems and seeing different versions of the truth. So if you can get those teams all working off a common system that provides a single version of the truth you might see those silos start to break down.
4. They’re suppliers, not partners
A healthy, adaptable and well-managed supply chain is crucial for any company. In fact, in our increasingly turbulent world, it might well be that one key differentiator that separates you from your competition. Yet few companies are able to unlock this opportunity. And instead of treating suppliers as strategic partners, it’s all transactional. You buy something, pay for it, and you’re done.
If you can move beyond those supply chain tools that dehumanize your sellers and force them to wade through mounds of complex processes just to send an invoice, you might give your team the opportunity to work with the supply chain differently. And, in doing so, unlock a key strategic advantage for your organization.
The next generation of talent is digitally native. They expect to do what they need at the click of a few buttons. And that expectation extends into the workplace. They want to be as powerful at work as they are at home.
Now imagine your accounts payable team showing them how they manually manage exception after exception. And image your treasury team showing them how they copy and paste information from emails into a spreadsheet when compiling the cash flow forecast. It’s probably not going to live up to their expectations.
So if you want to attract and retain the best talent. You need to give them the tools to empower them to do their best work.
Making shift happen
Solving these issues isn’t easy. It’s not a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and replacing all your existing tech—that’s probably not even possible. Instead, it’s about leveraging the new breed of digital platforms to connect your disparate tools, internal teams and external stakeholders to create a real-time, adaptable financial ecosystem. And it’s from there that your teams will start doing their best work, and you’ll start getting the results you want to see.
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