Why Collaboration Is Finance’s Next Frontier

Conor Donohoe

In a world of economic instability, uncertainty, and technological change, finance professionals are more crucial than ever for companies, from the tiniest tech startups to massive Fortune 500 firms. Unfortunately, far too often, other departments within the organization still fail to recognize the value of the finance team in accomplishing business objectives. Many of them have the misconceptions that finance’s only function is to tie them up in red tape or that finance doesn’t need to be involved in making important decisions.

In turn, this “walling off” of finance often causes the finance team to omit other departments from important business processes, including budgeting and reporting. The result is a fundamental disconnect that can have severe consequences for the business as a whole, such as overspending, misallocation of resources, and unused funds.

Tear down this wall

Many finance teams would love to bridge this gap – yet are struggling to find the time simply to do their own jobs. As the volume and complexity of data continue to grow exponentially year after year, organizations are still spending time manually handling transactions and stuck inside Excel spreadsheets. In addition, important processes such as financial consolidation and close, budgeting and forecasting, and analysis and reporting remain within inefficient silos, isolated from each other and requiring greater effort to carry out.

Although this situation sounds dire, the solution is clear: Increased collaboration between the finance team and their colleagues. In an ideal workplace, finance and other departments work together to formulate and achieve business objectives.

By raising finance to a more strategic level within the organization, the finance team can stay in the loop and plan more effectively.

Find the mistake and fix the mistake

Of course, “collaboration” has become somewhat of a corporate buzzword; what you need are actionable insights to make it happen. To begin with, you must move away from inefficient, disconnected spreadsheets and toward a unified, integrated enterprise financial software platform. Having such a platform will both relieve much of the pressure on finance and improve the speed and fluidity of your financial processes.

To obtain buy-in from all actors, any proposal for collaboration needs to have clear benefits for everyone involved. One way to do so is by leveraging the power of technology – in particular, providing real-time financial data and powerful business analytics for all users. Unlocking your data silos goes a long way toward driving engagement and collaboration between finance and business teams and also resolves the problem that 69% of CFOs believe is the greatest financial mistake that organizations are making.

By tracking metrics over time and revealing insights about past, present, and future performance, data analytics software can be a powerful tool for both finance teams and managers of other departments who want access to such information. Visual analytics and dashboards make it easier for even the most technophobic user to quickly view, interact with, and digest vital information. Advanced analytics solutions can even take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to make better decisions and predict what the future has in store for the organization.

The best are already doing it

In a constantly evolving business landscape, the roles and responsibilities of the finance team are also changing. The highest-performing CFOs are increasingly involved in strategizing, managing business performance, and creating value for the entire organization.

By empowering both themselves and their collaborative partners via technological solutions, the finance team can increase its relevancy, provide greater value, and become a more integral part of the business.

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Conor Donohoe

About Conor Donohoe

Conor Donohoe is an ERP consultant for SAP S/4HANA Cloud at SAP. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with first-hand experience of how technology can drive business change. Trained in a Big Four accounting firm, he is experienced in advanced analytics and reporting within the professional services, banking, and pharmaceutical industries. Conor comes from the ERP user side, so understands the challenges ERP users can encounter with their systems – and where real gains can be made.