Opportunities for the CFO:

75% of CFOs expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have ‘significant’ or ‘severe’ negative effects on their businesses over the next 12 months, a Deloitte survey shows. However, streamlining data and adapting new technology should be a key part of the recovery plan, as it will help to give CFOs the information and confidence to make tough but critical decisions during these challenging times.

1.Digital transformation

This is the first economic disruption that requires a large part of the global workforce to perform their role remotely, making cloud computing necessary to keep the business functioning throughout 2021 and beyond. Protiviti annual Finance Trends Survey revealed that 72% of CFOs and VPs of finance ranked cloud-based applications as a top priority to address over the next 12 months. For finance teams operating manually, the switch to remote working has exposed a lack of control and visibility within rebate management processes but with the cloud this could all change.

Many CFO’s are now being forced to recognize they need new digital technologies, skilled talent, and innovation, but that doesn’t mean change comes easily. Executive buy-in may be difficult to obtain but failing to adapt digital transformation could mean a company is left behind those companies who adapt quickly. According to Gartner, in 2023, many of the core financial projects that were slated for 2024-25 will be undertaken sooner to improve financials during periods of economic recovery.

2.Closer collaboration with CIO

With technology playing a larger role in driving company value and competitive advantage, it is more important than ever that CFOs collaborate closely and effectively with CIOs.

Gartner says that “Application leaders must work with IT to shape and evolve current inflexible, monolithic applications into a portfolio that is more modular, consumable and adaptable to business change. This will allow the finance organization to gain increasing levels of self-service for technology-dependent business innovation”.

It can be very difficult for CFOs to keep up with IT as it evolves so rapidly, to determine capabilities and staying ahead of tech trends requires partnership with the CIO. The CIO can give the CFO perspective on which tech is needed and which can be done without, to update legacy on-premise systems, increase business agility, improve business processes, and ultimately fuel growth.

A Gartner report suggests that, “A new solution may not be a silver bullet for all organizations, but IT leaders should seek to study and understand how new and improved capabilities can move the organization forward”.

When the CIO and the CFO work collaboratively to find and implement these technology improvements, the company becomes more effective than when they take a siloed approach on a per-department basis. By keeping the needs and challenges of your CIO in mind and approaching the conversation with empathy, you can strengthen the entire company through the trust you build together.

3.Automating rebate processes

There are a number of financial processes that may be appropriate for automation including rebate management. With lots of data, finance teams can struggle to keep up using spreadsheets and manual methods. Without automation, they have to spend all their hours collecting data and ensuring data quality, leaving little time left over for analysis, reporting and strategic recommendations.

However, automation changes everything. Now these siloed manual finance processes can give way to cloud-based platforms that vastly simplify rebate management. According to Accenture’s Finance 2020 report, automation will eliminate up to 40% of the transactional accounting work the finance department does today.

Most CFOs see the benefits of harnessing the power of automation for a stronger, more effective future. Fragmented systems can lead to costly results during a time when every penny counts.