Traditionally, the role of the CFO was more focused on number crunching and generating reports about the past, rather than the strategic figurehead we are more familiar with these days. However, reliance on manual processes and stand-alone spreadsheets failed to give anything more than a snapshot of the past, without the insight to support future growth.
The role of today’s CFO is a lot more visionary, encompassing a focus on business strategy using the financial insight gained from technology to analyse current and future growth prospects. Being in tune with customers, products, and services, as well as key stakeholders, helps the CFO to increase value and long-term business success. Technology is the foundation of digital transformation, and without it, you will not have the right tools in place to meet future challenges.
ERP technology enables a holistic view of the company, providing insight into business operations and market development potential that outdated systems and processes don’t allow. It allows financial leaders access to the most up-to-date information about how the company is doing at the touch of a button, which they can use to support strategic decision making and future business direction.
So, how does technology affect the role of the CFO and what benefits will you gain from embarking on a digital transformation project?
Technology facilitates automation within the finance department by relieving your team of repetitive manual tasks and allowing them to focus on tasks that have more strategic impact. It automates accounts reconciliation and the preparation of financial reports and statements, which would have traditionally taken a lot of time for your financial team to prepare. Advanced technology, such as iDocuments, based on optical character recognition (OCR) can save a significant amount of time for staff by automating data capture from invoices and sales orders, feeding information directly into the ERP system without the need for human intervention. This has an immediate return on investment by speeding up and automating manual processes, while also removing the potential of human error.
As the CFO, you will already have the knowledge of the areas that can be improved within your business by using technology. Every business is different and it’s important that the automation you implement will fit your business needs. Back-office tasks within the finance department are an obvious area to start with, and something that our customers have massively benefited from, but can your business gain benefit from automating processes within marketing, sales and the supply chain?
It is also important to question whether automating certain things makes economic sense. Assessing the potential return on investment by involving key people in each department will help you decide which processes to start with, and which to include on the future business roadmap. The CFO, along with other members of the leadership team, can help employees throughout the business understand how automation can help them and allow them to focus on tasks that have a more meaningful impact on the wider business.
Data quality and data science
Data science and better data quality enable the finance department to increase their understanding of customer needs by using ERP technology to spot patterns and trends. It can identify seasonal trends or increased demand based on market conditions and this insight can help leaders make strategic decisions. It is essential to make business decisions on high quality data, which ERP and business intelligence technology can provide. Technology solutions that are intuitive and easy to use enable users to transform analytics-based insights into actions, aligning incentives and measurement accordingly.
Analytics ability provided by the ERP solution and business intelligence packages, such as Sharperlight, give CFOs the tools to capture and mobilise data and enable an insight-driven enterprise. Modern cloud-based solutions offer in-memory computing, providing quick access to data and reports that support the strategic direction of the company. Real-time analytics functionality gives businesses the tools to become more agile and compete effectively, which contributes to the long-term success of the company.
With advances in new technologies, CFOs have an exciting opportunity to reimagine what the finance function should look like. CFOs and finance professionals are now key players in driving the implementation of new technologies, and we find they are an integral part of most ERP project teams.
How can SAP Business One help the role of the future CFO?
SAP Business One delivers everything you need to manage your most critical business functions. It enables businesses to standardise and streamline processes, minimise errors and delays, and take confident, decisive action. Covering functional areas across all areas of the business, with multiple SAP-approved add-ons that provide advanced functionality in specific areas, it allows business leaders to gain detailed insight into the state of their business and manage all key operational areas. SAP Business One provides a platform for growth with the tools to enable businesses to scale, confident in the knowledge that they won’t outgrow their ERP solution. For more information on how SAP Business One can automate processes within your organisation, providing accurate data and analytical insight to help your business grow, please contact our friendly team now.