Why CFOs Must Be Strategists – And How To Become One

Niall Salmon

In the not-so-distant past, CFOs and accounting professionals were seen as money-crunchers and “numbers people.” They handled the finances of an organization, and they were mainly charged with overseeing things like budget, spending, and tracking a company’s financial history.

These days, however, the CFO role is being transformed into something new. More and more companies want their CFO to be the go-to person who helps shape the overall strategy of the organization, with both the company’s end goals and financial well-being in mind. Executives now look at their finance and accounting teams to serve as trusted advisers who can weigh in regularly to help make informed, strategic decisions that guide the company to the best possible outcomes.

There are several reasons CFOs have become central leadership figures. First, there is now instant access to information, which allows them to make tactical decisions in real time. Also, complex new regulations have required finance professionals to step in to guide organizations to ensure compliance. Finally, there is an unparalleled amount of competition from digital disruptors – and this has solidified a company’s finance function as a core part of the business.

The key to intelligent financial management

To meet these new demands, both finance and accounting specialists can greatly benefit from an intelligent financial management system, delivering real-time access to information, robust reporting and analytics, and emerging technology to help drive continuous innovation. Here are some ways that can happen.

Utilize real-time information

CFOs should use a financial management system that gives them access to real-time financial information. In the past, finance professionals would analyze data of past performance or initiatives. This means that the data was already outdated when they were analyzing it, rendering their ultimate decisions somewhat inaccurate or irrelevant. Instead, by relying on live data, today’s CFOs can both get close to what is happening in the market and with customers – and more accurately identify the appropriate actions and contributions. Real-time information can also help CFOs avoid – or backpedal from – potential disasters, like fraud, lost revenue, or other unexpected anomalies.

Update systems and processes

Technology has evolved so rapidly that many companies rely on outdated systems and processes. However, technology allows CFOs to determine – and adopt – better processes. Change can be difficult, but by relying on financial management software, CFOs can use machine learning that can self-correct processes and yield the greatest possible efficiency and profitability. CFOs can figure out what processes can be automated to save time, money, and manpower. They can also choose to implement programs with personalized, assistive UIs that are interpretable and useful not only to financial professionals – but also to every staff member throughout the process.

When a CFO steps to the center of a company and adopts financial management software, the company not only benefits from the CFO’s knowledge and training, but also from the software itself. Besides supporting better decision-making with live data, the software can allow for continuous innovation and incremental upgrades via the cloud. This approach helps ensure that companies stay ahead of the industry and the competition, and perform with the company’s best financial goals in mind.

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Niall Salmon

About Niall Salmon

Niall Salmon is an ERP consultant for SAP S/4HANA Cloud at SAP. His experience lies in forging long-term partnerships, developing bespoke IT solutions for large corporate entities, and the promotion and understanding of emerging technologies. He has an honors degree in Business Marketing Management. He has operated as a B2B solution consultant for IT and telecoms companies for the last six years.