Although automation and making better use of existing technologies will play a major role in the transformation of finance operations, adopting the right mindset and opening up towards the entire value chain will be the first and most important steps to take. For example, by letting go of the end-of-month focus and providing information whenever needed, based on a soft close, relying more on accruals and estimates. Companies may run into some system-related hurdles when embarking on this journey, but in essence it is mainly a matter of introducing new processes and procedures.
Building on this new mindset, companies can then turn their efforts to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations to the next level, by fully embracing end-to-end process thinking through robo-accounting. Robo-accounting equals the introduction of business rules for software robotics, automating the delivery of (back-office) business and financial processes with significant benefits in terms of speed, quality and cost. Technologies such as SAP Ariba, e-invoicing, (mobile) expense management or VIM (Vendor Invoice Management) already make it possible to optimize processes end-to-end and break down silos for better collaboration between suppliers, producers and customers. Hence enabling Finance to focus on being a business partner.
The tools are available and, what’s more, if you deploy them in the cloud, high performance and low maintenance are guaranteed. The result should be the introduction of straight-through processing (STP) in Finance to complete most, if not all, financial transactions without intervention, eliminating any delay between one party receiving information and being able to proceed.
This article is the fifth of a series of 6. After setting the scene of why CFOs need to transform the finance role, I dive deeper into the 5 challenges CFOs are facing today. I also shared some of my findings in the report `Fast Forward Transformation or Back to Basics?’