July 24, 2020

Helping Finance Navigate Digital Transformations

Finance Leadership
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Introduction

As companies accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and implement new core systems, the CFO and the Finance department face some tough choices. Finance staff need to balance the short-term needs of their company with the organisation’s long term technology ambitions. They must also ensure that the quality of their company’s data is maintained amidst the disruption of new system implementations and data migrations.

With over 70% of CFOs expressing an ambition to make decisions based on analytics or achieve greater agility, Finance must also take responsibility for innovation today, rather than assuming the traditional approach of waiting for IT and new system developments to solve problems for them tomorrow.

A Digital Work Platform like SolveXia can prove invaluable to Finance leaders that want greater certainty and effectiveness across their team while undergoing digital transformation and new system implementations.

Balance Your Urgent Tactical Needs and Longer-Term Strategic Ambitions

Large scale digital transformations and new systems (such as a new ERP system, a data warehouse or an enterprise data hub), while exciting, take time to put in place. It can take anywhere from 6months to 2 years to implement a new ERP system. While these types of projects can be long and drawn out, they are critical to keeping organisations competitive in the longer term.

However, as promising as these large projects can be, Finance must still deal with the immediate challenges associated with effectiveness, efficiency and control. Reporting deadlines need to be met, errors must be kept to a minimum, and the business needs to remain compliant and audit-ready. In an environment of constant change and disruption, Finance will not remain unchanging during this time. Instead, accountants must often adapt and enhance processes to deal with ever-changing demands from management and regulators.

It can be tempting for executives to remain in a “holding pattern” as the organisation waits for new systems to be implemented. However, their staff do not have that option. They can easily become overwhelmed and overworked as they try to react to new and changing demands while also being hamstrung due to a lack of IT / Technology resources (most of whom are all focused on implementing the new systems). The result is often a proliferation of spreadsheets and macros, coupled with longer workdays.

How SolveXia helps you balance tactical needs with strategic ambitions:

-     Modern digital work platforms such as SolveXia enable staff to immediately automate their spreadsheet and macro tasks, rather than waiting for the possibility that the new system will address their needs at some stage in the future.

-     Through the use of a low/no-code platform such as SolveXia, accountants can build, maintain and enhance their solutions for reporting, reconciliations, workflow and analysis themselves. In so doing, Finance can remain effective and efficient even though they may not necessarily receive the same attention and support they would otherwise get from in-house technology experts.

-     SolveXia runs entirely on the cloud, helping minimise the total cost of ownership and need for IT involvement.

This provides CFOs with a cost-effective way to solve urgent tactical issues while the business waits for a larger scale, strategic technologies to be implemented.

Improve and Maintain the Quality of Your Data

Poor data quality is the leading cause of failure for digital transformation and new system implementation. Setting up a new ERP system or data warehouse and migrating data can be a massive undertaking, introducing the opportunity for critical data to be corrupted or missed. Coupled with the fact that many organisations already have data quality issues (and in fact, use this as a driver for implementing new systems), the result can be a severe degradation of the quality of data being used for critical finance processes.

Data issues brought about by transformation, and new systems can severely impact the credibility of Finance reporting and the morale and energy of the Finance team. This often manifests in two ways. First, data that has been migrated to the new system may not be consistent with the old system. This can be due to errors during the migration. It can also simply be due to the architecture of the new system and how data is represented and stored. Secondly, staff can be impacted by temporary or permanent limitations in the new system. Many of the more niche data requirements can be descoped as the pressure and costs associated with the new system mount. This can often leave accountants out in the cold, without access to reports with the same level of granularity or completeness as they received previously.

The downstream implication for staff is that they risk basing their analysis and advice on erroneous or incomplete data. Over time, this can damage the credibility of the Finance department and result in costly errors and the need for rework.

How SolveXia helps improve and preserve data quality during a transformation:

-     Staff can automate inter-system reconciliations to ensure that transactional data between the current and new systems match. The platform can be used to automate any type of reconciliation including bank/cash, customer account, vendor and balance sheet recs, combining data from new and old systems as well as spreadsheets and other data sources.

-     The profiling and checking of data can be fully automated. This can help ensure that, without adding more burden to staff, the business can continuously measure and improve the quality of their data. SolveXia has out-the-box features to validate the format, accuracy and completeness of your data and send automated alerts to staff when data errors are identified.

Build quickly for the current state. Adapt easily for the future state.

The idea of solving urgent, tactical issues and maintaining high-quality data is likely to resonate with many Finance leaders. That said, CFOs can sometimes express concern that their efforts to solve the more immediate process issues will be made redundant when the new systems are eventually implemented. This can sometimes lead to inertia as the business fears any investment in more tactical solutions will be wasted.

While this type of anxiety is natural, there are two key reasons why Finance should still press on with solving urgent issues. First, the road to a successful ERP or Data Warehouse implementation can be unpredictable both in the timeline and in the substance of what is delivered. This can be challenging and demoralising for Finance teams that have been indoctrinated to “wait for the new ERP because it will solve all our problems”. Chances are the new system will not solve all your niche problems or in the timeframes that are being promised. Second, you need to challenge the assumption that any investment made in more tactical solutions will need to be thrown out when the new core systems are implemented. Modern cloud data platforms like SolveXia are not only designed to allow the business to solve data issues quickly and cost-effectively. They are also designed so that staff can readily adapt their processes in the future if data sources and process flows change.

How SolveXia helps you solve problems quickly today and adapt your solutions easily in the future:

-     You can automate urgent data and reporting issues in a matter of days. The automation can be done by the Finance team, without having to engage the IT department (who are likely to be overburdened with the core system replacements).

-     By automating a smaller but essential process and data issues, you can allow your staff to focus their attention on higher-value activities such as analysis and communication with the business.

-     Automation leads to the systemisation of your processes. This will eventually make it easier for your IT team to integrate processes into your new / replacement systems. Processes automated in SolveXia are automatically documented and can be easily handed over to new staff, mitigating key person risk.

-     When the environment around the process eventually changes, for example, the new ERP system goes live, and the process can be easily adapted by the Finance team to incorporate new data sources and formats.

Conclusion

Digital transformation, new ERP systems, data warehouse and data lakes are critical to the strategic success of companies. However, this should not lead to periods of inertia for CFOs and Finance teams that are facing urgent issues around the efficiency, effectiveness, data quality and control of their Finance operations. Rather than trying to avoid dealing with periods of change, particularly as these become more frequent, equip your team with the tools and skills that will enable them to deal with change as a normal, ongoing task.

Digital Work Platforms such as SolveXia can help Finance solve tactical issues while waiting for more strategic initiatives to become a reality. CFOs and Finance leaders can help improve and maintain the quality of their data by automating reconciliations and data checks to minimise the disruption that may be caused due to new system rollouts and data migrations. Also, the agility and affordability of cloud platforms (like SolveXia) will enable Finance staff to solve data-related issues quickly (rather than waiting for new systems) and then adapt their solutions in the future for new data sources and processes.

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