Today, the role of the CFO continues to evolve and grow. In the past, the CFO was fully engulfed in “number crunching” and budget-developing, but as the world has changed, so has the role. CFOs across the globe are now responsible for providing insights in a timely manner to help guide critical business decisions and identify future growth opportunities.
Meeting the demands and expectations in today’s business environment means CFOs are broadening their domain to not only own finance transformation, but also become an active participant in enterprise-wide digital transformation. To ensure they are ready, and their teams are ready, CFOs must embrace and lead change while leveraging data, technology and an expanding strategic role within the organization.
Thinking Like a Transformational Architect
In the past, the CFO’s main priority was concerned with looking at numbers historically for reporting and budget preparation. But now, CFOs are leveraging lessons learned in the pandemic and providing a much more strategic and proactive approach to how they engage with the business. The CFO must now think of themselves as an architect: leveraging data to glean actionable insights from financial reporting or benchmark data to competitively position the company and uncover new paths for growth.
“I think what’s great today versus a couple of years ago is that so many of these public companies are publishing their KPIs through their investor data sets or through their normal 10-K and 10-Q disclosures. There’s a lot of information that companies can mine in order to see how they’re doing versus everybody else.” –Omar Choucair, CFO, Trintech
CFOs must look at the derived data they are seeing and ask questions, such as:
- Why did this outcome happen last week or last month, versus three months ago?
- How does this information help us make a different decision in the future?
Evaluating data and providing insights based on specific KPIs will help the company to strengthen its financials and maintain a competitive edge in the market.
To gain visibility into the data in a timely manner and focus on the insights from financial and operational metrics, the CFO must then turn their attention to accessing key data in one place that provides a System of Controls – which means changing the organizational structure of the financial close process.
Advocating for Change
For the CFO to provide guidance and insights related to critical business decisions, they need to always know the overall health of the company. Error-prone, manual processes and siloed data within the Office of Finance means there is a lack the visibility into the financial close, which in turn reduces confidence in the overall numbers. This is essential to provide strategic insights to help scale the business. CFOs must go beyond the implementation of an ERP and embrace change by implementing technology that enables the business function to gain efficiency and effectiveness and transforms the entire financial close process.
The days of resisting change and clinging to the status quo are over. CFOs must be not only fluent in technology adoption, but they should also be aggressive in leading the charge to embrace technology within their organizations. When you eliminate manual processes and enable technology that helps automate repetitive low-risk tasks, CFOs can focus on recruiting a team with the skills and ability that will drive the organization forward.
According to new research by Accenture, nearly three-quarters (72%) of CFOs surveyed said they had the final say on the enterprise’s appropriate technology direction. This is why the Office of the CFO must lead the force for change.
Becoming a Strategic Engineer
To lead organizations on a strategic and transformational journey, the CFO must have financial data that is reliable and accurate to guide their recommendations.
The CFO must be engaged in managing their F&A teams and engaged in the process, to guarantee reporting coming out of the finance department is seen as credible, to support strategy development.
If the CFO enables change surrounding their financial close process to leverage automation and streamline the workflow across the team, they free up time for the team to focus on higher-value activities that are essential to future success. This approach means the CFO also frees up time for collaborating with the CIO and other C-Suite members to support enterprise-wide digital transformation
“I believe the CFO-CIO relationship is a critical piece of a successful digital transformation journey. In fact, I partner closely with our CIO, to ensure that ServiceNow prioritizes and funds digital transformation programs that increase customer success, unlock productivity, and drive ROI.” – Gina Mastantuono, CFO, ServiceNow
The CFO’s expanded role in strategy development includes:
- Assessing feasibility by forecasting risks
- Asking critical questions about dominant growth constraints, uncertainties, and underlying assumptions
- Steering the organization in the right direction for the future
- Adding value to the business and enhancing shareholder value
The CFO must establish an execution path to business value and engage in captivating business conversations. To do this, discussions centered around successful results to drive advancement towards digital transformation are critical.
Quote: “CFOs need to move fast. They need to break down data silos once and for all, unlock predictive forecasting, collaborate purposefully across the C-suite, and take responsibility for digital strategy.” – Aneel Delawalla, Strategy managing directors, Accenture
Owning Financial Transformation
The CFO can no longer be at arm’s length of finance transformation. To ensure value stabilization and creation, they must lead their team from start to finish. The CFO must find the appropriate balance between being entangled in the daily details and being purposely involved in projects to hold their team accountable for the tasks at hand. Selecting a proven financial close automation solution, such as Cadency by Trintech, allows the CFO to have visibility into what is happening in the business, and on their teams, thus enabling better decision making that helps the business overall.
Trintech’s CFO, Omar Choucair described the Office of the CFO as “a rapidly growing space…[There is] a lot of opportunity in terms of how CFOs organize the financial close process, and how they can automate many of those processes to close the books faster.”
Embracing technology that leverages automation for the financial close can serve as an asset for the CFO and allow them to step back from monitoring the execution of financial processes to fulfill their duties as a strategic engineer. Additionally, reliable technology enables CFOs to be confident in the business-critical insights they provide by eliminating the risk that is historically inherent with manual processes.
Cadency by Trintech is a proven financial close automation solution that can transform your financial processes to world-class. Enterprises that rely on Cadency have seen up to a:
- 99% reduction in preparation time on reconciliations (for reconcilers)
- 62% reduction in write-offs
- 75% reduction in time preparing and reviewing journal entries (for preparers)
“Cadency allows us to have greater visibility and control over the business processes across all companies and geographies. This enhances our ability to ensure consistency and data quality, while reducing our operating costs.” – Ahold Delhaize
To learn more about how to excel as a CFO in today’s business world view our on-demand webinar: The Evolving Role of the CFO.
Written by: Karagan McConkey