Guest blog by Daniel Caringi, National Solutions Manager, BDO Canada LLP Solutions
More than simply managing numbers, today’s CFOs are playing a pivotal role in the strategic decision-making process for their businesses.
To help illustrate the above statement, FEI Canada released a survey in May, 2014, titled “Branding the CFO“. In this survey, finance leaders across Canada share their views and priorities in helping to manage the business.
Of particular interest in the report is the impact technology is making when it comes to helping finance leaders gain visibility into overall business performance. It’s clear that today’s CFOs need to understand how technology, specifically Corporate Performance Management (CPM) technology, can help them excel in their new, strategic roles.
With 92% of respondents citing the strategic planning process as a critical part to their role, it’s clear why finance leaders are invested in finding ways to streamline and automate recurring tasks. Understanding which processes can be automated with CPM software to help improve decision-making, optimize costs, and mitigate risks is a crucial step in setting a foundation for continuous improvement.
Consider CPM technology to turn information into knowledge, and a tool to help finance leaders become more involved in helping all departments collectively work towards reaching business priorities.
While the survey results above (Chart 1) outline the perception of CFOs, the survey results below (Chart 3) focus on current CFO prioritized responsibilities. To help drive sustainable and profitable growth, business leaders need to make informed decisions in real-time. It is with an integrated planning approach that finance can discover how connecting the budgeting, analysis, and reporting functions across the business can improve organizational alignment and drive sustainable performance.
More than simply budgeting and forecasting, CPM technology supports cost optimization and growth initiatives for companies looking to automate financial functions often repeated in a fiscal year business cycle. Based on the results of the survey this speaks directly to the top three CFO responsibilities:
1. Financial Reporting (98%)
2. Budgeting and Forecasting (97%)
3. Supporting Executive Team Decision-making (97%)
By applying CPM technology, finance teams can streamline and automate repetitive processes such as financial and operational planning (revenue/people planning), consolidation and close, management reporting, ad-hoc analysis, and searching for data, and instead focus more time on making decisions through data analysis. The result is efficient strategy execution and a proficient process that can be ongoing, and not a one-time event.
The impact of CPM on the business:
Breaks down data silos with a unified view the business.
Provides access to historical data and trends for planning, budgeting, and forecasting.
Gives visibility into real performance vs. plan in a timely, repeatable way.
Streamlines and automates manually intensive and error-prone processes.
Enables employees to work in a collaborative fashion towards organizational goals.
Provides a vehicle for finance leaders to reach into operations.
The survey results share the current roles and responsibilities of today’s CFO, according to CFOs themselves. More importantly, it reaffirms that the right investments in technology can make a CFOs job easier by providing a foundation for growth, while ensuring structure and processes are in place so companies can react with prompt and accurate information.
It’s a journey, not a destination, to business efficiency. To help get you started on your journey, start by assessing your organization’s health and check its future technological direction with industry leaders.
Daniel Caringi (@dancaringi) helps business leaders connect technology to strategy with business solutions that promote financial and operational effectiveness.