Finance transformation doesn’t just mean one thing. It’s the all encompassing trend and notion that is moving finance teams from backward-looking entities into forward-thinking business partners.
While finance teams have a lot on their to do lists, they have historically been focused on managing the books and maintaining financial documents. With finance transformation, the goals and value of a finance team have begun to include driving forward efficiency, helping with decision-making and serving as strategic advisors.
With every emerging function a finance team can provide, automation tools provide a valuable and optimal method to achieve their role. We’ll break down all you need to know about how to achieve this type of transformation in the most cost effective and value-maximising way.
What is Finance Transformation?
Finance transformation is a commonly used buzzword. To get down to its meaning, you can think of it as the way by which a finance team evolves from being a reactionary department to being a proactive team leader. Finance teams are contributing to overall business strategy and using metrics and automation tools to track progress overall.
Expanding a department’s role will sound like a costly endeavour off the bat. However, digital finance entrails three main areas that can leverage the cost saving benefits of automation tools.
Consider the following aspects that a finance team is responsible for and how automation tools can help:
Scaling: When a business grows, the finance department naturally should as well. Bigger businesses collect more amounts of data. For example, automation tools can pull and securely store data from various sources to generate comprehensive, accurate reports easily and quickly to provide data-driven insights.
Governance: Finance teams must adhere to regulations and remain compliant. In many instances, they’re also responsible for finding ways to minimise business costs. Tools like SolveXia boast an easy way to provide audit trails for internal and external stakeholders. This way, you can leverage access controls and ensure that everything that happens within the system is tracked and easily reduce compliance risk. It also helps to save time with documentation gathering for auditors.
Services: With the aid of real time analytics and big data, finance teams can provide business leaders with insights regarding customer behaviours and provide advice. Real time data dashboards can be customised for executives to empower them to make decisions and remain agile to meet the changing needs of the business climate.
Key Features of Finance Transformation
To successfully accomplish finance transformation, there are some key features to uphold. These include:
Set a goal: Of utmost importance, it’s necessary to set a clear objective for undergoing finance transformation. Once you define your goal, then CFOs and executives can outline and plan how to move forward and gain buy-in from stakeholders.
Cover all bases: Finance transformation should encompass the consideration of every task that sits under a CFO’s umbrella, and then some more. It doesn’t mean that you forget about the daily tasks, but rather you use specific tools to handle them more efficiently.
Take your time: It’s not a process that happens overnight. It takes time to research the right solutions and then implement tools and update processes to benefit the business. These changes entail measurement to ensure that updates are actually benefiting, rather than harming, the business’ bottom line.
Go project-by-project: Break down finance digital functions into projects that can be realized in progression. By going step-by-step, you can react to any issues that may arise and alter your team’s capabilities in due time.
Why Begin Finance Transformation?
There are many reasons to get started on updating your finance team so functions can benefit the organisation.
Financial transformation helps to drive forward:
Cost savings: The ability to do more with less. When finance teams implement automation tools, such as SolveXia, they can allow processes to run without human intervention. Timely and tedious tasks like reconciliation and data entry are no longer the responsibility of people. Rather, the system takes over and completes tasks in seconds, improving efficiency and reducing errors. This allows your team to focus on high-level, high value tasks.
Informed decisions: Providing stakeholders with information needed to make the smartest decisions. Data is transformed into digestible insights through dashboards and reports. Reports can be scheduled to run on a consistent basis to keep track of how the company is performing. The reports can be automated to send out to key stakeholders and be with real time data.
Data management: The ability to pull and use data from a variety of sources. Combine qualitative and quantitative data sources to be used to better understand customer behaviours and even predict what’s yet to happen through data analysis.
Business alignment: Assess operational plans based on financial considerations. Know where to invest, pull or allocate funds to make the business work more efficiently overall.
Quick response times: Boost agility and be able to respond to customer and market needs in real-time based on data trends and forecasts.
How to Be Successful with Finance Transformation and Drive it Forward
Like previously mentioned, finance transformation takes time to complete. There are best practices to follow to ensure its success.
Some tips and considerations are:
Have a Clear Vision: When taking on any change within your steady work environment, it’s paramount to set forth a clear vision. Communicate this vision not only with stakeholders (to get buy-in), but also with employees so that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Be Agile: Rather than following your traditional operational models, look for solutions that support agility. Many finance teams have been focused for too long solely on budgeting, planning and reporting - all tasks that are specifically suited for finance professionals. By adopting an agile operating model and culture, your finance team can drive forward strategy, solutions and secure good decisions by leveraging data for insights.
Build for the Digital Age: According to McKinsey, businesses can automate about 40% of financial activities. On a broad level, it’s necessary that finance personnel understand the benefits they can provide to the overall organisation. By overseeing financial health and using automation for processes, finance teams can free their time to help guide stakeholders’ decisions and design strategic initiatives to help meet business goals.
Strong Change Management: Since financial transformation undoubtedly involves the implementation of technology, it must be led with change management. Stakeholders and employees alike should feel comfortable with the alterations being made and be able to understand the wider vision to get on board.
Operational View: Finance transformation serves as the glue that holds the disparate pieces of business together. By taking an operational view, your organisation can see how the changes benefit every aspect of the business to create a stronger whole.
People and Talent: Like with all business success, people play a crucial role in making it happen! Having a supportive team that’s up for the cause will make all the difference.
Shared Services: Finance shared services offer a way to achieve economies of scale by centralising functions within a location, either on-shore or off-shore. With automation tools, a shared service centre can reduce costs, measure outcomes, deploy processes and standardise processes efficiently.
Analytics: Drive forward transformation with the aid of analytics. Software solutions like SolveXia deliver robust data analytics that can help to cut costs and boost efficiency.
Consider the Order: Before jumping into making any changes or setting up expectations, consider the tools you want to use, the people involved, processes that are run and data that’s being collected and stored. Define your objectives clearly and consider which aspects need updating first.
Measure Progress: Measurement is everything in business. Be sure to keep track of key performance indicators and key risk indicators when changing processes or adding technology to aid in your organisation’s activities. Set benchmarks and test your organisation's effectiveness against them.
Ongoing Finance Transformation
As technology and its capabilities evolve, so does your finance team and their capabilities. This is why finance transformation is an ongoing journey. Measurement plays a crucial role in assessing success of any modifications and automated updates that have been made. In this way, finance transformation should be consistently assessed and readdressed as new features and possibilities become available.
For example, in the beginning, you may just implement process automation through RPA. Then, you may want to use predictive data analytics to forecast future events. You can continue to add on to the transformational effects of your finance team by scheduling and sending automated reports to stakeholders about the current status of the organisation’s operations.
Types of Finance Transformation Areas & Examples
Let’s take a look at some concrete examples of finance transformation in action:
Financial reporting: It’s common for companies to begin to use automation tools by applying their power to budgeting and planning processes. Then, they can upgrade to using automation tools to handle their reporting process, including financial close and account reconciliation. The centralised system ensures that the data is accurate and handled in a timely manner.
Data management: Instead of storing data across spreadsheets and in different locations, finance tools can provide your organisation with a centralised and secure location for all data.
Business finance: Finance teams are not only responsible for day-to-day operations, but they must also manage the expectations of business leaders. This means that reports become a necessary and commonly requested tool in the decision-making process.
With an automation tool like SolveXia, it’s easy to achieve transformation that will help optimise your finance team’s abilities. The tool allows you to run reports and even visualise data in real-time through customisable dashboards. There’s no need to know coding as the system is designed to be ready upon deployment. It can pull information from existing data sources, transform it into the same structure and then provide an output that is usable by executive teams.
Financial transformation has been and will continue to happen. Technological advancements occur exponentially, so the possibilities are expansive. Data automation tools like SolveXia make it easy to reap the benefits of finance transformation with just one powerful finance tool.
When implementing finance transformation trends within your organisation, be sure to set clear goals, measurement methods and a cohesive communication strategy to make sure all departments are aligned and all working towards well-defined goals.