How tech can make the CFO’s job easier
Monday, 19 Sep 2016
Over the last few years, I’ve read countless articles about the role of CFOs evolving from traditional skills and disciplines to wearing multiple hats and becoming a strategic force within the business. Today, we’re focused not only on reducing costs but shortening time to value, to give our organizations the agility to adapt to dynamic market conditions and compete in a more interconnected world.
As a growing number of businesses recognise the power of information, analytic workloads are becoming integral to our roles, and data itself may one day become a balance sheet asset we have to reckon with. Meanwhile, the CFO-CIO relationship is becoming closer and more collaborative by necessity, as performance improvement is driven through a series of digital initiatives.
It’s perhaps both cause and effect that finance leaders are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. At Basware, we “drink our own Champagne”, running the very enterprise software that our customers use daily to manage their financial and P2P processes. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably become so reliant on your go-to applications that you’re scarcely aware of the technology anymore. But it’s worth remembering how far we’ve come in not only automating but innovating the finance function.
Of course, process automation is a natural starting point for many organizations that are still paper-heavy. It saves time and money, reduces human error, and allows people in your team to focus on more value-added activity – or as I like to call it, the “fun stuff”.
For organizations further along the digital maturity spectrum, the sophisticated insights afforded by analytics can be nothing short of transformational. Being able to summon up our current cash flow and liabilities on my tablet in a few taps and swipes gives me an immediate picture of our financial performance, instead of waiting for reports that combine transactional data across invoicing, procurement, accounts payable and our supply network.
Mobilising approval workflows in P2P has had a great impact on our productivity, by enabling budget holders to review and authorise invoices and purchase requisitions while on the go – even on the beach or the ski slope!
Digital participation in our Commerce Network is enabling some of our most innovative financing solutions, built on electronic payment strategies and rich data. These are designed to allow buyers and suppliers to optimize cash and working capital, whether through early payments, dynamic discounting or third-party credit.
And we’ve been able to build stronger, more transparent relationships with our own suppliers, thanks to our self-service supplier portal. It makes e-invoicing fast, easy and accurate, and has reduced the kind of disputes that would previously have required costly manual interventions.
I appreciate first-hand how these tools have made my job easier, without needing a black belt in IT, although I actively enjoy seeking out ways that technology can make myself and my team more productive, decisive and effective. Technology is both a wave of change and a rising tide that is raising the value and profile of CFOs. At a time when change is inevitable, progress is vital!