Like it or not, technology has forced a shift in the strategic role of the CFO in the boardroom. CFOs are now expected to deliver real-time and even forward-looking competitive insight for other C-level executives to act on. Those who fail to keep up with this expectation are not only creating risks to their own relevance, but also massive strategic and operational risks for their organization.
Reliance on fragmented deployments of legacy software is one of the major obstacles for CFOs looking to effectively adapt their role for the digital economy. With speed, agility, and foresight of the new benchmarks, the functional suites of yesteryear might get the job done, but not in a competitive way that’s conducive to today’s boardroom discussions or at the speed at which business is done.
Unfortunately, many financial teams in Canada find themselves encumbered with aging finance systems, some of which are now at various stages of discontinued support. Vendors are ending maintenance of this 15- to 20-year old software because they know its rigid and inflexible nature is at odds with how a business is run today.
When businesses invested in these financial tools, we could not have envisaged the demands on the financial function in 2016. They were not designed for instant business insight and real-time financial analytics. Although the systems were useful at the time, the thought of finance organizations spending most of their time on low-value transactional activities, significant reconciliations, and data manipulations doesn’t fit with the idea of a modern digital business.
So with some vendors closing out support for critical financial software tools, customers are (perhaps rightfully) being forced to choose whether to embark on an upgrade path with their existing provider or reassess and move to an alternative. One thing is clear: The “do-nothing” option will become increasingly costly and adversely affect business.
There is an opportunity to stream and simplify a general ledger upgrade that acts as a modernization of legacy software – something that is able to do anything your old general ledger could do, but with a high level of flexibility and customization. That should be your minimum expectation, but it’s not always being met as vendors tackle the digital migration.
If your business is in the midst of a finance software upgrade and this idea sounds more palatable than a huge project with your existing vendor, consider these next steps for transitioning: Review your finance processes and data flows to identify improvement opportunities, join educational workshops to learn how alternative vendors can provide an easier upgrade path for your finance function, and conduct technical assessments to determine scope and procedures for deployment options. From there you can begin building out an achievable and sensible roadmap that suits the business.
For more on cutting-edge financial tech, see Seize The Day As Disruptive Technologies Revolutionize Finance.