Business models have been changing rapidly, partly fuelled by advances in technology and recent events like the pandemic. But what does this mean for the CFO? We sat down with Christine Bloy, our Functional Solutions Architect, and Sam Sheridan, our Principal Consultant, in this week’s episode of ColumbusCast to address:
- The influence of technology on our consumers
- How the role of the CFO has changed due to technological advancements
- The potential challenges without the right technology and processes in place
- Common concerns CFOs may have when undertaking a system implementation and advice to help overcome them
How has the advances of technology changed the way we purchase products or services?
- In the B2C industry, customer expectations have shifted to on-demand platforms that provide immediate availability. New ways of shopping are always at the customer's fingertips, and this is not just via websites
- Voice automated devices such as Amazon Alexa allow the customer to order a variety of goods through speech, and IoT adds personalisation through reminders on devices such as printers
- Contactless payment methods have been on the rise, with the inclusion of e-wallets, such as Apple pay and Google wallet, on top of your usual providers such as PayPal. As the CFO, it is important to bear this in mind when investing, which will ensure you are fulfilling your customers’ expectations and prevent losing out on potential new revenue streams
- Customers’ expectations have also developed in the B2B market, expecting more with their transactions, creating complexities to deliver a seamless process
- Examples of new expectations include the use of automated processes, invoicing through electric formats, regular updates about their service, and more, creating a growing need to invest in the right technology
Where does the CFO come in? As you’re responsible for approving technology investments, you must be able to assess how exactly they can further improve customer experience. This means you should have the tools to keep track of market trends.
How has the role of the CFO changed due to technology?
Technology has transitioned the CFO from a role that focused on past transactional reporting to a role where they are more future-minded. Before the implementation of software (D365 as an example), CFOs would have to sift through weeks and potentially months of data to make and produce accurate forecasts.
This inevitably results in lengthy workloads.
The right software will provide an instant, complete overview of current standings with insight workspaces, enhancing standardised business processes by freeing time spent on underlying processes. This allows for more effort and time to be placed into analysing reports and looking into key performance indicators.
Technology should make processes easier
With the variety of software available, allowing you to automate, backlog, track finances and more, the advancement of technology lets the CFO prioritise and manage more effectively. As a result, the CFO role is now transitioning from a ‘backward’ position within a company (one that focuses on the past) towards a future thinking, proactive mindset.
Access to a centralised system and single source of data truth
Combining different departments' information from older systems can be tricky. By the time you have sifted through your past data on several systems, it may already be outdated, affecting your ability to forecast effectively.
As well as your data being out of date, you may also run into problems with finding the right information you need, caused by the number of systems you have for each department.
What new technology provides is the ability to access all of your company’s financial records in one, centralised location, improving your time management. Now you can focus on moving the business forward.
Less reliance on the IT team
Without access to advanced reporting software, creating reports meant you had to rely on IT teams. Not only does this impact productivity, lengthen turnaround times and create additional workload across the board, but you may not always receive the reports you envisioned.
IT teams may not interpret and visualise data the way a CFO does, so conveying what you want from reports can be a challenge. With technology allowing you to automate many processes and providing you the tools you need; this will free up other departments' time and you can be in control of the analytics you want to report on.
Easier to comply with legal and regulatory requirements
Due to the fast nature of laws and regulations, companies need to ensure reports such as sales taxes or invoices are kept up to date. This can create pressure for the CFO. If no system is currently in place, this process can become incredibly difficult.
You may even need to identify an individual within the company to work everything out manually. That can, of course, be time-consuming and require resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
To adapt to the speed of laws and regulations being introduced, your system must have a flexible approach. With new regulations around data, spreadsheets aren’t enough. Some information you compile must come directly from an untouched system to improve accuracy and reduce human error, placing reliance on your choice of technology.
What are some key features of D365 Finance that can ease a CFO’s pain points?
- Access to a variety of workspaces at once – the use of workspace areas of the system can bring multiple areas into one place, which allows CFOs to quickly view the expenses submitted for individual departments
- Workflows give CFOs a targeted view – CFOs can access the business intelligence (BI) they want as and when they need it, thanks to these customisable dashboards
- Continuous updates from Microsoft - from projecting cash flow to predicting customer payments and proposing budgets for better financial control, Microsoft updates will enhance your systems current features, and keep improving the accuracy of predictions you make for your companies future
- Access to automation to improve the level of autonomy - you still must train the system to read and register items such as invoices and credit controllers. However, once integrated, the system will take the work out of your hands. Now you can focus on improving customer relationships and conducting or activities which add value (that you can't automate)
How do we address the concerns from other teams about implementing new technology?
When you change any process, you will most likely experience resistance. For example, employees may be sceptical about whether:
- The new technology is easy to use
- How long it will take to get used to
- It will save any time at all (isn’t it better to stick with what we know?)
This is especially the case in finance departments - there’s usually a lack of trust towards new technology and automation. So, it’s important to address how individuals deal with this change.
However, with the right technology and change management approach, employees should acknowledge that having software introduced to their ways of working can be massively advantageous.
Let’s say a team recoded transactions every month, spending days upon days correcting information in the system. Thanks to account structuring software, this stopped any issues prior to being posted, allowing the team to focus on other projects. It’s about how you can communicate benefits like this to your users.
Listen to our podcast to find out more…
Scroll to the top of this blog or search ‘ColumbusCast’ in your podcast app so you can learn more about how technology influences the CFO, including:
- Our advice for C-level executives and directors considering a technological upgrade
- How you can effectively handle internal resistance (and look past these concerns for a successful implementation!)
Finished the podcast and want to learn more about a potential future transformation project? Get your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance factsheet today and learn how the platform can benefit your organisation.