Creating A Roadmap Through The Financial Transformation Maze

Trevor Lovegrove

By 2020, corporate finance professionals are going to have some pretty big challenges on their hands. Compliance requirements are changing, and the inherent limitations of existing legacy finance and ERP systems are going to be a threat.

There’s a maze of complexity that’s becoming ever harder to navigate, but your competitors are finding smart ways to get through it.

And that’s a problem for CFOs who need to get up to speed on new-generation systems and best practices for business transformation. Doing nothing isn’t an option. You need to start moving – fast.

Common challenges for CFOs

There are a few main challenges that CFOs need to get their heads around in the next couple of years:

  • It takes too long to reconcile, analyze, and report on financial data.
  • Achieving accuracy and consolidation of financial data is difficult and time-consuming.
  • Fast response is required to meet the need for greater transparency from regulatory and compliance changes and ever-increasing demands from investors.

In other words:

  • You’re grinding your gears just to pull together the basic financial data needed for month- and year-end close processes.
  • You’re wasting time reconciling reports because of conflicting datasets.
  • You’re stuck when you need ad hoc and agile reporting to support operational decision-making.
  • Your current data infrastructure makes it almost impossible to predict business performance.
  • You are increasing investment in manual processes just to meet business needs

None of this helps your organization to be efficient, proactive, and insightful.

While you wrestle with all this, you have to keep your business imperative in mind: to provide the strategic and tactical thinking that supports growth while keeping your competitors from edging you out.

Before you give up in desperation, don’t lose sight of what financial transformation can help you achieve: better client engagement, increased service profitability, lower costs, and streamlined processes. These are things all ambitious CFOs want to deliver for their organizations. But you need a plan.

Developing a plan of action for financial transformation

Getting out of this maze isn’t quick or easy – but the map is at least simple in construction. Here are my suggested steps:

  1. Think about your starting point. Take stock of your current capabilities. What are the pain points holding you back?
  1. Plot the roadmap. Work out which platform or solution can help you make progress and assess the funding needed.
  1. Start moving. Proceed to implementation now. It can take two to three years for a financial transformation plan to march to completion.
  1. Monitor, manage, and adjust course continually. A well-planned implementation should yield incremental benefits throughout the process.

You’ve already been feeling the pain of lacking accurate and timely data. Now you want to draw up your plans to sort it out. What to do?

Good news: there’s a growing set of tech solutions that will help you keep on top of regulatory requirements while also finding the way out of dealing with inconsistent data.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Real-time and predictive analytics. Engage with customers and optimize cash flow.
  • Combined core ERP and finance systems. Use a modular approach to provide best-of-breed capabilities in multiple streams.
  • In-memory consolidation of data and transactions. Dump the islands of disparate data and simplify month- and year-end closing.
  • “Single version of the truth.” End the era of letting opinions overrule data. Get data that everyone can agree on to help you speed and improve the way tactics are decided.
  • Intuitive user interface. Access your data through unified systems (including mobile) that are built to support regular reporting but also support ongoing management and ad hoc decision-making.

You could spend a long time researching options and tie yourself up in knots working out what’s right for your organization. Or you can adopt a comprehensive solution that brings together all these capabilities.

A digital core embodied by SAP S/4HANA can steer you toward an intelligent finance organization by integrating all the pieces while providing a roadmap for today’s forward-thinking CFOs.

Trevor Lovegrove

About Trevor Lovegrove

As head of Financial Transformation Solutions for Bramasol, Trevor Lovegrove is responsible for the development and implementation of innovative analytics and financial solutions that meet clients' present and future compliance needs, using SAP S/4HANA analytics capabilities. Trevor is recognized as a thought leader and change agent in supporting organizations in exploiting technology to transform their business to drive performance improvements.