The increasing pace of business and the growing amount of data is changing the nature of finance.
To keep up, chief financial officers (CFOs) need to start filling the role of ‘economic guardians’, providing insight and direction, and measuring business outcomes, while managing stiff competition and growing customer demands.
CFOs are moving to the front line of the business as the finance profile and role shifts. Rather than simply number crunching and running reports, they are expected to work hand-in-hand with stakeholders to understand how the organisation should use its resources to meet client needs.
With all the data now at their fingertips, CFOs have insight into business performance and levers that all the other functions can implement to improve outcomes. They are, therefore, increasingly providing support to other C-suite members in strategic decision-making – not only with the numbers, but with functions like HR, technology, and operations.
Many enterprises are investing in digital transformation, and CFOs should be put forward for the role of digital champion. CFOs can assist in the transition to the digital world by ensuring that the organisation’s investments are sustainable and that the expected outcomes are realistic.
CFOs can also, with the data they have access to, assess whether digital projects like artificial intelligence, cloud, and enterprise applications will deliver sufficient returns to justify their cost. They can help interpret what things like productivity targets or customer acquisition would mean in terms of financial outcomes.
To take on these roles, CFOs will need to have access to the data and tools required to streamline the way they work. While they’re well placed to initiate and push change, CFOs might not be able to do that if they do not have the time or support from other business functions that might not understand how much positive input finance can offer.
More than compliance
Regulatory compliance demands are growing, and CFOs are spending a lot of time on statutory reporting requirements.
This is why they need tools that allow them to generate financial statements and automate statutory reporting. This will enable them to focus on other areas of the business where they could add value.
As part of digital transformation, CFOs should be looking at solutions for automating repetitive tasks and providing quick and simple access to real-time financial data. Not only will these tools help ensure compliance, but they will allow better access to financial and operational data, which will assist with functions such as automated alerts and scenario planning.
From start-ups to large companies, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology empowers leaders to drive change like never before. With these solutions, they can modernise processes and systems with lowered risk and costs, providing instant access to information they need at any given time.
Through data, CFOs can support the business by ensuring strategies make sense and investment is correctly allocated. And in this economic climate, it’s more important than ever.