There are so many ways CFOs can look at improving performance – so much so that it can become a daunting challenge encumbered by missteps and misstarts, or worse, inaction.
But by narrowing the focus to three areas, enabled by the speed, accuracy, and power of technology, improvements in performance usually happen quickly and pervasively:
- Continuous accounting
- Dynamic planning and analysis
- Turning live insights into action
The power of technology in boosting performance
In previous blogs, my colleagues have mentioned the Oxford/SAP survey of 1,500 global CFOs and senior executives. I’d like to focus on the survey findings that center around performance, and the practices of the 11.5% of responders who were designated finance leaders.
Successful financial leaders were masterful in the six key areas diagrammed above. They were:
- Regular collaborators across the business
- Influencers beyond the finance function
- Extremely effective at core finance functions
- Well-equipped at handling regulatory changes
- Drivers of strategic growth
- Users of automation to boost efficiency
According to the survey, when finance leaders are proactive in these areas, the payoffs are tangible and impressive. Their companies are twice as likely as those of non-leaders to report market share growth over the past year. They have a tighter grip on costs. And they make the most of innovations in technology.
Technology-supported improvements in performance: making it happen
How can the three areas I mentioned earlier, buoyed by technology, help drive the proven criteria for improved performance? Let’s look at some specifics.
Continuous accounting. Certainly, the period-end close isn’t going away, and shouldn’t. However, technology-enabled continuous accounting allows for ongoing improvement in the quality, accuracy, and efficiency of information. Key areas where continuous accounting is proving to be a valuable tool include intercompany reconciliation, account balance reconciliation, attestation, and equity account reviews. Additionally, continuous accounting fosters closer and more frequent collaboration with other business units.
Learn more in these blogs:
Dynamic planning and analysis. CFOs operate in an environment of instantaneous opportunities and challenges. With technology on their side, CFOs can both embrace and expand their role as strategic partners. They can provide on-the-spot analytics, simulations, and planning options with greater accuracy than ever before. They can analyze fast-breaking situations, such as regulatory changes, and assess their impact across the organization, literally in minutes. The CFO’s mandate is fast becoming: Don’t just report the past; impact the future.
Learn more in these blogs:
- From Bob Cratchit’s Basement to Modern Finance Office with Dynamic Planning and Analysis
- Why Dynamic Planning and Analysis Optimizes Decisions
Digitization (a.k.a. turning live insights into action). Digitization, or turning live insights into action, plays many roles in helping CFOs improve performance. It pulls together information across all lines of the business. It increases speed and creates greater levels of transparency. It improves the quality and power of boardroom presentations, generating changes and simulations in real time. It allows for collaboration across the organization in areas such as cash collection, mergers and acquisitions, and P&L statements.
Learn more in this blog:
Pulling it together
By focusing the power of current and emerging technologies on continuous accounting, dynamic planning and analysis, and digitization, more CFOs can join the ranks of the finance leaders that companies desperately need. They can transform that way-too-low 11.5% into a clear majority.
Learn how CFO leaders improve revenue, margin, and business performance significantly. Read the report.
And find out how organizations are gaining instant financial insights and using them to make better decisions—both now and in the future. Register now for 2017 Financial Excellence Forum, Oct. 10-11 in New York City.