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, record keeping, 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.
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.
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.
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