Finance professionals need better tools to manage pace of change


Though the finance function is gaining more responsibility within organisations, fewer than half of finance professionals (44 per cent) have the tools they need to deliver the in-depth financial analysis business demands, according to a new global study by CFO Research.

The influence of finance professionals is growing, with many believing that other corporate functions will come under their purview, including IT (35 per cent), risk management (30 per cent), HR (29 per cent), and mergers and acquisitions (28 per cent). But this influence will increasingly revolve around the ability of finance to explore what numbers mean for the business, rather than simply keeping track of those numbers.

“Finance professionals are poised to make a huge impact on their organisations in the near future, contributing to high-value activities that underlie performance management to ensure that financial targets are met,” said Thack Brown, general manager and global head of Line-of-Business Finance, SAP.

“But smart finance departments recognise that the volume of data, including unique data, will only continue to grow, and advanced technologies are needed to wade through it and derive useful insights. This technology must enable end-to-end finance process coverage in real time, steering enterprises toward success instead of being left behind.”

Seventy-nine per cent believe their companies must develop or acquire capabilities in advanced analytics to cope with the speed of information being introduced by digitalisation and automation, and 85 per cent of respondents agree that over the next five years, their companies’ success will depend on their ability to adapt to the rapid pace of change and greater business complexity. Eighty-four per cent of respondents also believe they will need to be able to translate the flow of data into swift and decisive action.

SAP suggests as a first step, companies should look to introduce a central platform with built-in harmonisation and reconciliation for a single source of the truth, and remove delays and obstacles to enable real-time access.

“The results of this survey are consistent with the discussions we are having with our CFO clients,” said John Steele, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and coleader of the global SAP Finance Transformation practice. “It is a critical moment, where the role of finance is experiencing a rapid evolution and the value of the finance function is being rediscovered.”

The study was sponsored by SAP. The full report can be accessed here.

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