Technology & Innovation

Why blending tech with talent can help CFOs build the ultimate finance team 

Learn how blending technology and human expertise can help your finance team meet the demands of today's fast-paced business environment.

Does the month-end close create late nights and spreadsheet overload for your finance team, with the pressure to reconcile accounts accurately and on time? 

Traditionally, doing the close manually has been a balancing act of precision and speed, where the stakes are high, and the margin for error is slim.  

This can result in team burnout and underdevelopment, as more time is needed for strategic decision-making. 

But finance is changing.  

Professionals now recognize balancing investment in technology and people isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a strategic imperative for a more efficient close.  

With cutting-edge automation and good staffing decisions, your month-end close can switch from a stress-inducing ordeal into something streamlined—even uneventful.  

In this article, you’ll learn how blending technology and human expertise can help your finance team meet the demands of today’s fast-paced business environment, paving the way to agility and resilience.  

The technology imperative 

A recent Sage report, Fast close, faster insights, reveals 82% of finance leaders lean into technology and automation for a speedier month-end close—it’s not simply a passing trend.  

The future of finance is here and requires swift adoption of tech solutions. 

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA) are more than just buzzwords.  

They’re the new standard bearers in the realm of financial operations. 

Here’s why:  

  • AI and ML algorithms can empower CFOs and finance teams to predict cash flow trends and accurately manage revenue cycles.  
  • RPA takes over the repetitive and time-consuming tasks that once bogged down finance teams, such as data entry and transaction reconciliation. 

The efficiencies gained from these technologies are in:  

  • Speed 
  • Accuracy  
  • Return on investment (ROI).  

Investments in automation technology often pay for themselves as they free up people to focus on more strategic tasks that can drive revenue and growth.  

Moreover, AI, ML, and RPA technologies can be used to scale your business, accommodating increased transaction volumes without a proportional increase in errors. 

For finance leaders who have embraced this technological imperative, the month-end close is no longer a fire drill but a well-oiled routine.  

The result is a more dynamic finance department where your staff actively engages in analytical and advisory roles, adding value beyond number crunching.  

In essence, technology is not just changing how you do things. It’s elevating what you can achieve. 

The value of human insight 

While 82% of finance leaders embrace technology for efficiency, the 18% planning to expand their teams highlights a strategic balance.  

Despite technological advancements, the nuanced value of human insight remains essential for complex decision-making and creative problem-solving.  

It suggests a trend towards integrating tech with talent, not replacing it, recognizing the unique contributions of human expertise alongside automation. 

The allure of automation is undeniable, but skilled professionals’ nuanced insights, creative problem-solving, and strategic foresight remain the cornerstone of finance.  

This human element is critical to unraveling complexities and unique challenges that even advanced technology can’t manage. 

With finance advancing into automation, specific roles and skills have emerged as crucial.  

In high demand include: 

  • Financial analysts who can interpret data patterns 
  • Risk-management experts who can foresee and mitigate potential issues 
  • Compliance officers who can successfully navigate the ever-evolving regulatory environment.  

These professionals complement technological tools by providing context, making judgment calls, and strategizing based on the data these tools generate. 

When recruiting, think about enriching capabilities and investing in people who can work with new technologies, innovate, and lead.  

Hire individuals who can tackle complex financial problems with analytical prowess and creative thinking—problems where subtleties and variables are too intricate for any algorithm to dissect.  

AI and automation are rapidly reshaping job functions.  

There is a growing need for roles focused on overseeing technologies, ensuring they are aligned with the company’s financial goals, and adapting to new tools as they arise. 

The wisdom in bringing people back into focus lies in recognizing that the human perspective is the lens through which data becomes meaningful.  

Supported by technology, the critical thinking and ethical considerations of finance professionals can transform: 

  • Numbers into powerful and persuasive narratives 
  • Risks into comprehensive and proactive strategies 
  • Challenges in market-winning opportunities. 

Osprey CFO Lewis Dangerfield emphasizes the need for CFOs to “embrace and lead change”.  

In a business landscape that is perpetually evolving, don’t just adapt to change—be the catalyst.  

A proactive approach to change is a survival tactic and a thriving strategy.  

Lewis says: “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Taking this approach makes what you can learn along the way amazing.” 

Learning to delegate is often a hard-won lesson for many leaders.  

He says: “Delegate and develop others to lead; you cannot be successful on your own.”  

The synergy of a well-developed team exponentially amplifies productivity and paves the way for more rapid advancements.  

“Once you have a great team around you, you can move faster and further,” Lewis adds.  

The secret sauce for enduring success lies in empowering others. 

In today’s digitalized world, adopting technology in financial management is essential.  

For tasks such as closing the month-end books or managing P&L statements, Lewis’s tip is to: “Embrace technology and encourage your teams to look for ways to innovate.” 

He advises setting aside time every month for your team to focus on improving processes.  

“Whether that be through trying new technology or different approaches, innovation is key,” concludes Lewis. 

The balancing act: Integrating tech and talent 

So, how do you achieve a balance between technology and humans when it’s more of an art than a science?  

You’ll want a combination of high-tech tools and top-tier talent, ensuring each complements the other to create a seamless financial operation.  

The key to this balance lies in a strategic approach that assesses your team’s capabilities and envisages what the future will look like, which you can implement in a tailored integration plan. 

Comprehensive capability assessment 

A robust framework for CFOs begins with a comprehensive capability assessment.  

This involves mapping out existing processes, pinpointing inefficiencies, and identifying tasks that can be automated.  

Evaluate your finance team’s skill set 

The next step is to evaluate the current workforce’s skills against the demands of an increasingly digital finance function.  

This evaluation should highlight gaps technology can fill and areas where human insight is indispensable. 

Determine the ideal balance 

Once the assessment is complete, determine the ideal balance for your finance team.  

It’s a balance that will optimize technology for routine tasks and use human talent for complex decision-making and strategic planning.  

The following steps can guide you through this process: 

  1. Identify automation opportunities: Pinpoint repetitive, time-consuming tasks ripe for automation. 
  1. Define strategic roles: Outline roles that require human expertise, creativity, and decision-making. 
  1. Upskill and reskill: Develop training programs that will help enhance the finance team’s technological proficiency. 
  1. Implement and integrate: Roll out technology solutions while strategically positioning team members to oversee and manage these tools. 
  1. Monitor and adapt: Continuously review the balance of technology and talent, adapting to new advancements and organizational changes. 

As a CFO, you might already recognize that while RPA can handle most of your data processing, your finance team’s analytical skills will still be crucial for interpreting exceptions and providing strategic recommendations.  

By getting the tech talent balance right, you can develop a faster month-end close that offers more profound insights into your business. 

“Be humble and be aware of your position within the executive team,” says Dizmo CFO Christoph Ott.  

“Remember, the goal is to run a successful company. It is not to achieve perfection in accounting, reporting, planning, etc.” 

Finance enables sales, marketing, manufacturing, and other customer-facing functions. Be firm on statutory matters, but business decisions should be collaborative.  

Christoph adds: “CFOs should recognize that the highest potential for improvement lies in the areas where departments intersect and work together.” 

Final thoughts on blending tech with talent 

Speeding up and finessing the month-end close process demands a thoughtful, balanced investment in technology and skilled people.  

CFOs should take a holistic view of their finance operations, recognizing the power of automation in enhancing efficiency and accuracy while equally acknowledging the critical role of your finance team’s human judgment and strategic insight.  

Embracing this dual approach, you can be confident that the month-end close turns from a lengthy routine task to a shining example of operational excellence.  

This balanced investment strategy won’t be simply a response to the current financial landscape but a proactive step towards shaping the future of finance.  

As technology continues to evolve and the finance professional’s role is redefined, CFOs who successfully integrate tech and talent will set the standard for agility, insight, and innovation in their field.