Why Your Finance Department Needs A Competitive Tech Strategy

Nicole Sharon Schultz

Growth is every company’s goal, and the pressure to support that growth weighs heavily on the CFO.

While finance departments are an integral piece of any company’s growth strategy, CFOs are the ones to provide the board with the numbers to justify growth decisions―and a competitive tech strategy equips them to do this more effectively.

Tech strategy goes hand in hand with business strategy. Without a tech strategy to support it, your finance department can’t support the business strategy. But despite its importance, IT strategies are frequently overlooked, and this can be a fatal error.

The missing piece: technology

On the path to growth, the inner workings of a company become increasingly important as transaction volumes increase, operations go global, and new or additional regulations add even more complexity to an already complicated financial landscape.

Accountants begin clocking more overtime than usual, especially around the financial close, and the wider impact this has on the entire organization is often overlooked.

Even on a good day, the most highly skilled accountants can and do make mistakes, and the risk of error is significantly multiplied when they’re overworked and exhausted. However, these overworked accountants are a symptom of the real problem.

Decentralized manual procedures and inconsistent workflows lead to widespread process inefficiency and long financial close cycles that lack transparency, predictability, and accuracy. With limited enforcement of internal controls, compliance gaps in audit continue to widen and aging items creep toward material weakness.

It’s an alarming foundational issue that results in CFOs being unable to trust the numbers that are supposed to reflect their organization’s performance, making it difficult for them to be fully informed while making critical business decisions.

CFOs are quickly learning that they need a competitive tech strategy to give them the insights, and their company the advantage, that is imperative to be a leader in business.

Finance needs technology

Right now, finance departments have little to no time to perform the strategy and analysis that gives the entire organization incredible value and insight, and even if they had the time, the data is out of date.

The answer to this problem is technology, but not just any tech. CFOs are making it a priority to ensure that they make the right IT investments for their company. For industry leaders, the answer has been software that delivers both process standardization and automation.

This is the most effective way to eliminate duplicated efforts and repetitive, time-consuming tasks, and give exceptional accountants the time to focus on the value-add activities the business needs.

One of the key drivers for this effort is real-time access to the increasing amount of detailed data that can reveal current, valuable information about the business.

The technology that’s necessary to build a competitive tech strategy can standardize and automate processes. In turn, this delivers information that exceptional accountants need to communicate the financial story that executives expect in today’s competitive environment.

Now it’s time to begin

According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending will reach $3.7 trillion in 2018, and investing in technology is certainly high on CFOs’ priority lists. Finance automation is a catalyst for growth and continuous process improvement, and the right software can turn the ever-increasing proliferation of data into a powerful way to create competitive advantage.

It’s essential for all executive teams to create a strategy that defines where they want the company to go in order to begin moving in that direction. Creating a competitive tech strategy for your finance department will make a drastic difference in how quickly you get there.

Next, read this blog to learn why your organization also needs an agile strategy. And check out another related blog, “CFO and CIO Partnership: How To Unite for Competitive Advantage.”

This article originally appeared in BlackLine Magazine and is republished by permission.


Nicole Sharon Schultz

About Nicole Sharon Schultz

Nicole Sharon Schultz is a specialist in robotic process automation (RPA) at BlackLine. She has been immersed in RPA since moving from the Midwest to The Netherlands almost three years ago. She was responsible for creating and building the user resource platform for BlackLine Smart Close, which embeds RPA into record-to-report activities in SAP software. As an American working in Europe, Nicole sees RPA in action from a unique perspective: as a way for finance to work smarter, bridging the gap between the aspirations of the C-Suite and what can actually be accomplished, given the limitations placed on most finance departments. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.