In recent years, those of us with our fingers on the pulse of the finance function in medium sized organizations have been inspired by the evolution of the CFO role and the finance function in general.
Once regarded as the gatekeepers of risk and governance, the CFO has changed and advanced. Finance leaders have gone from historians of past performance, to real-time analysts monitoring an organization’s financial heartbeat, to data-driven decision-makers who leverage emerging technologies to digitally transform the business.
The ongoing situation with COVID-19 has meant that many organizations have had to pause or pivot their digital transformation plans. Their focus has shifted to survival mode. There is no doubt that once the storm has been weathered, the CFO will remain firmly in the driver’s seat of their organization’s reignited digital transformation efforts.
At Sage, we’ve seen the power of the evolving role. Here are five ways CFOs can help their organizations stay on track in the COVID era.
1. Reconnect with your customers
You may have had a strong relationship with your customers before COVID-19. It’s worth checking in with them now to see if their business needs have changed during these trying times. This is especially important in the fintech space. Consumer behaviours may have changed or accelerated your customers’ needs for different or evolved versions of your services.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the innovation that your competitors are driving. It can inform where and how you should be developing new products and services. All to help your business stay on the front foot during this coronavirus period. This might include:
- Pivoting to omnichannel financial experiences to meet customer demand remotely.
- Delivering automated support and resource libraries to empower your customer to use your services, which can, in turn, power future sales and engagement.
- Analyzing customer data trends to offer new tailored services.
- Educating more traditional customers on how cloud-based services could better assist their business in times when remote working is ubiquitous.
2. Don’t pause innovation
The disruption caused by COVID-19 is not ideal. But for some organizations, it can provide breathing room to develop new products and services.
During these challenging times, reducing costs is obviously a priority, but to avoid taking two steps back on your business roadmap, it’s a good idea to search for areas where you can provide enhancements to your product suite. That’s better than trying to identify an eliminator from your offering.
3. Invest in a core financials solution to improve efficiency
To invest in and improve customer experience, you may need to increase your operational efficiency to free up capital. This could be used to fund additional headcount and facilitate the management bandwidth required.
Does your business still rely on financial processes packed with low transactional processes and wasted costs? If so, it’s time to invest in a core financials solution that can reduce the administrative burden in your business, and allow you to devote more time to critical areas of your business.
Manually compiling spreadsheets and waiting days for different teams to get reports together has no place in 2021. Embrace access to real-time data and interactive dashboards, which will give you insight into your business like never before.
4. Leverage remote working to your advantage
The impact of COVID-19 has forced many companies to suddenly embrace remote working, some for the first time. More than likely, when things go back to normal employees will expect a greater flexibility when it comes to remote vs. in-office working.
Having committed and engaged employees can lead directly to better performance and higher profits. So it’s worthwhile to design a long-term remote working policy that takes into account the needs of both the company and the employee.
This may require a pivot of strategy, and investments in new technology to ensure that employees can work efficiently without disruption to customer satisfaction.
5. Search for the right talent to empower your organization
It’s an unfortunate reality that during COVID-19 the go-to strategy to cut costs for some businesses is to reduce headcount. The upside is that the market is flooded with incredible candidates suited to support the finance function. These candidates have digital, finance and programming skills to help drive your business forward.
When considering candidates, search for exceptional skills that include vital customer service, flexibility, and good collaboration capabilities, in addition to the technical skills needed for specific jobs.
How are CFOs and C-level decision-makers primed to oversee the technology needed to support and grow organizations, drive digital transformation, and commit their companies to change? To learn more, download Sage’s free whitepaper, The Tech Savvy CFO: https://www.sage.com/en-ca/blog/free-whitepaper-the-tech-savvy-cfo/.
To learn what Sage Intacct can do for your business, visit https://www.sage.com/en-ca/sage-business-cloud/intacct/.
Nancy Tichbon is Managing Director, Sage Canada, a leader in integrated accounting and payment systems