Efficiency is the word on the lips of most finance executives, according to a survey commissioned by SAP and conducted by Forrester, an independent research group.
The survey of 200 finance operations leaders from around the world revealed that 69% indicated that their key priority was improving efficiency. According to the survey, finance executives and their departments face three major challenges as they strive to support business goals and contain costs:
- Lack of functional knowledge or limited knowledge by finance personnel, which hinders departmental performance
- Lack of timely access to data needed for relevant and accurate information and informed business decisions
- Demands from other areas to reduce finance’s response times
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How are they addressing these efficiency challenges?
More than half of the finance executives surveyed said they have adopted a shared services (centralized) approach to their finance operations, which allows for:
- Increased process speed and efficiency
- Cost containment through consolidated resources
- Dedicated training and development to improve and update competencies
The majority believe that investing in technology will facilitate this centralized approach and improve efficiency. Specifically, they see technology solutions as crucial for better supporting business goals, scaling operations and resources in a more agile way, enabling seamless processes, and improving speed and accuracy.
Financial executives further indicated that for their investment in digital technology to be well spent, it needs to enable:
- Automation and self-service. 60% are looking to automate and accelerate invoices and payments. 53% are looking for automation to reduce paperwork. 48% are also eager to empower employees to make smarter spending decisions.
- Reporting and analytics. 57% want to see their investment in technology used to improve decision making by enabling better reporting and analytics capabilities.
- User experience. Over 40% of those surveyed want their technology investment used to help enable mobile devices to track expenses, freeing up employees to focus on more productive tasks.
What are they looking for in technology partners?
The financial executives surveyed had a clear picture of the qualities and capabilities they are looking for in a technology partner. When asked to indicate all the attributes they considered important in that partner, 54% of responders pointed to financial experience and expertise. 52% also indicated the importance of a partner who could work effectively across the entire business. 49% said technology partners must showcase their expertise in new areas of technology, and 46% required outstanding customer service.
Conclusion: automation is a must for boosting efficiency
Based on these responses, Forrester concluded that for finance operations to effectively meet business demands in today’s digital world, they must:
- Increase operational efficiency to better manage risk and improve business performance
- Leverage analytics technologies to turn data into valuable insights for more informed business decisions
- Automate finance processes, allowing for improved efficiency, reduced costs, and less risk of manual error
- Partner with a technology provider with deep industry expertise, extensive knowledge of new technologies, and the capability to provide end-to-end finance solutions
And find out how CFOs can gain instant financial insights with live business technology.