Your business is changing. Your market is changing. Even the macro-economy is changing. The question is: Are you changing?
For today’s finance leaders, adapting to this new environment is no longer optional. In many instances, the tools, strategies, methods, and tried-and-true metrics you’ve used to run a top-notch finance organization and forge a successful career—well, they might not be what you need to move forward. So are you content with the status quo, or are you ready to embrace a new role: change agent? Externally, your markets are pressing you to be faster, smarter, and nimbler. That means using technology to create customer-centric business models. Internally, you need a modern financial infrastructure, faster and more insightful analyses, and the ability to adapt and adopt modern metrics that reflect rapidly emerging business trends and realities. The tremendous resumé you’ve carefully assembled over the years likely isn’t as robust as you need it to be. That’s because, as the CFO’s responsibilities evolve, technology is playing an increasingly prominent role. CFOs are being called upon to deliver answers that are inescapably dependent on modern, innovative technology. Many of the fundamental assumptions and methodologies that corporate finance has rightly trusted and relied on for decades are undergoing radical, transformative change, and the role of the chief financial officer will never be the same.
For CFOs, it’s no longer about just debits and credits, and yet another spreadsheet. Today, you need to be part analyst, part strategist, part futurist, part collaborator—and all business. You want to be the leader who can modernize and transform business systems and operations to improve productivity. And, you want to be the leader who can adapt to the new rules and the new tools to keep the company ahead of the competition.
Are you ready? You’ll need a complete rethink of your financial and technology infrastructure, because shifting business strategies are rewriting the ways companies execute their financial processes and operations. In this new world, you’ll need to:
In other words, you need to be a tech-savvy CFO.
But even if you don’t have in-depth tech fluency (and few CFOs do), it’s still essential to have some basic knowledge about how technology can positively impact your company—how it can provide competitive differentiation, improve finance’s productivity, open up strategic opportunities, and ensure a healthier bottom line. Let’s quickly review how you can start to make that happen.
In an information-centric era, the pace of business is faster than ever. Disruptive cycles—driven by innovation and analytical insights—happen with greater frequency and amplitude—this puts the CFO squarely in the crosshairs. But the onslaught of technology that creates this chaos is also the key to success. Here’s what will help today’s CFO step up to the next level.
If your finance team is hampered by manual processes, you end up needing more people who do less work using bad data to create faulty reports. But if you’re looking to be that future-ready CFO, it’s time to get your head out of your spreadsheets and break the vicious circle of inaccurate data, lengthy closing cycles, and delayed decisions that lack a fuller context.
A tech-savvy CFO embraces automation to streamline the mundane tasks and devote time and resources to the higher value, strategic activities. Technology keeps the bad things from happening and avoids the endless cycles of tactical tasks. The tech-savvy CFO makes informed decisions that drive profit-creating business activities instead of acting as gatekeeper and number cruncher. Think of technology as the guardrails on the road that let you drive faster with your eyes focused on the future with greater confidence that you can avoid the crashes. Automate the accounting, recordkeeping, and report generation… and the strategic visibility will follow.
In the eyes of many, the capital and operating costs of on-premises software are inexorably leading it to the dustbin of corporate technology. Given the many headaches of monolithic software and multiyear implementation and update cycles, it’s easy to conclude that “playing it safe” is no longer equivalent to “playing it smart.” The status quo itself is a risk.
But being a tech-savvy CFO also means having the ability to resist rushing into strategic decisions until all the facts are in. Yes, cloud computing is attractive, but you want to be sure you’re armed with all of facts about the risks and benefits of cloud solutions before making rational, informed decisions.
When it comes to cloud computing, many CFOs are still in the education and evaluation stages. With so much at stake (as in: the future of your business) and so much in flux, the responsible path is to evaluate all your options and all of the dimensions of this decision—cost, security, scalability, and the essential ability to adapt to fast-changing business conditions. Whether cloud is right for you or not, you need to do your diligence.
As a CFO, it’s your job to think long-term, even when technology keeps changing in the short term. The watchwords are agility and future-proofing, because you must make the right decisions that set up the company for success—regardless of what the future brings—even if that’s two or three years down the road. While CFOs are bred to embrace prudence, it’s equally true that acting with boldness while others hesitate can create exceptional advantages.
Make choices that don’t limit growth—keep your options open and your business agile to adapt to an unknowable future.
The tech-savvy CFO’s ultimate responsibility is to drive the organization from intent to action to results. But no single individual or group can achieve that in isolation. Delivering faster and smarter outcomes requires the skillsets of a vast range of talented people from across the organization.
The fact is, the business of the future is not well served by outdated silos and independent specialization. Collaboration closes the gaps and sidesteps the pitfalls. It removes organizational friction and tears down barriers that inhibit progress. Collaboration moves you from talking about it to figuring it out to implementing the right actions.
Tech-savvy CFOs know that new-breed technology provides the foundation for streamlined collaboration that empowers people to engage and innovate.
Business success is often predicated on the ability to look backward and forward. You need to know what’s happened—good or bad—and assess your company’s performance clearly. The tech-savvy CFO strives to go beyond plain old “reliable financial statements.” Instead, she wants to use technology to create management insights that identify problems and opportunities faster.
A tech-savvy CFO empowers everyone to dig deeper and understand the true nature of the business results and uncover new opportunities—all drawn from a single system of record. And it’s a wise and secure CFO who’s comfortable with delegating this level of empowerment—while still retaining control.
Technology gives new power to interrogate—your business, your projects—in ways that will never happen with spreadsheets or other manual systems. (When it’s time to tell the board what you’ve found and what needs to happen, do you want to be praying that every cell in every spreadsheet is exactly right?) Your business can’t prosper until you find and address the root causes of its challenges. That’s why visibility—not merely reporting—is an imperative for CFOs.
Moving forward into rapidly changing markets, CFOs are under increasing pressure to rethink how they serve the business strategically and operationally. Forward-thinking CFOs know: A gap is emerging between the tech-savvy and the tech-laggards.
The time is now to develop a game plan to modernize finance and achieve the right level of readiness that meets the modern business mandate. As you prepare to learn more and address this challenge head-on, it quickly becomes apparent that smart solutions to support thoughtful ideas, collaboration, and innovation are the new currency.
Sage Intacct is a leading provider of best-in-class cloud ERP software. Bringing cloud computing to finance and accounting, Sage Intacct’s award-winning applications are the preferred financial applications for AICPA business solutions. In use by more than 10,500 organizations from startups to public companies, Sage Intacct is designed to improve company performance and make finance more productive. Hundreds of leading CPA firms and Value Added Resellers also offer Sage Intacct to their clients.