It’s no secret that CFOs want to be more strategic. So what’s holding finance back? It’s the old-world tools they’re using for routine tasks, such as the financial close and reporting, which add risk and drain time and resources.
Take financial consolidation as an example. Many companies use spreadsheets to manage intercompany eliminations and allocations, which is time-consuming and error-prone—and this manual work slows down the entire close. According to Ventana Research, only 38% of companies can close their quarterly books in six days or less.
So how can you improve your process to execute faster and provide critical financial information sooner? Here’s a three-step guide.
1. Move away from Excel to close faster
Only 26% of companies that use spreadsheets can close their books in six days or less. That number jumps to more than 50% for those that automate their process with consolidation software. These companies can spend more time on analysis to drive better business decisions, which is a significant competitive advantage.
2. Automate your processes and gain confidence in your results
When corporate finance teams automate their processes, they’re able to close faster and are more confident in their results. More than two-thirds of surveyed CFOs said they are satisfied with their software because they’ve been able to cut the issues that come with Excel (manual, error-prone, no version control) and keep up better audit trails for compliance.
3. Invest in and carry out continuous improvements
Automating your process is a great first step in accelerating the close, but it’s also important to streamline other close inefficiencies. Identify the issues that add time to your process, then work to improve them. Your peers are doing it with successful results—77% of companies that set out to shorten their close are able to do so.
Following these steps will help you reduce risk and accelerate the close. You get a best-practice, active planning process to drive business success—a process that is collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous.
Our CFO Indicator Q3 2017 survey explores CFOs’ confidence relative to data and technology, as well as their progress in moving toward a “single source of truth” (single source of financial and operational data). Results reveal that Finance has successfully cleared what we believe to be one of the most significant hurdles—their hesitancy to store data in the cloud. Read our other CFO Indicator reports here.