The finance function has traditionally played a more supportive role instead of an advisory one within many organisations. Many finance functions tend to focus on their operational activities instead of giving strategic insights. As a result, finance departments risk being reduced to serving an efficiency-first support role.

Compounding this is the reality that innovation hasn’t yet become a common fixture in finance departments. Many finance teams are bogged down by time-consuming data entry, manual processes, crumpled receipts, stapled invoices, and outdated spreadsheets that must be pored over before the end of every month. This means that there's a lot of potential data — and potential revenue — left on the table.

Getting the building blocks early

Transforming finance functions to be at the heart of the decision-making and value creation process is challenging and cannot be achieved overnight.

Different organisations have different ideas of what they want from their finance function. Some might want it to be more proactive and focused on analysis planning. Others might want to streamline transactional elements and bring a level of automation or process reengineering into the overall process.

Regardless of the reason, the goal is the same: A finance function that is agile, integrated and customer-led, and can support the organisation in dealing with the uncertainties and obstacles of an ever-evolving world. This requires a finance function that:

  • Enables the organisation to deliver its objectives in the context of stakeholder expectations
  • Delivers actionable insights that support strategic and operational decisions, creating value and managing opportunities
  • Provides confidence and trust in data, processes, systems and reporting
  • Communicates in an integrated and timely way to provide a holistic picture of performance

Identifying the areas of transformation

Before finance functions can become future-ready, organisations must first get their house in order. This includes defining the organisation's overall strategy and looking at points of change within the business. This will lay the foundation for a transformation that’s holistic and sustainable.

Let's take a look at some of the key areas of transformation:

  • Streamlining processes
    Making processes fit for purpose ensures that workload is reduced across all financial activities without compromising productivity and efficiency.
  • Improving reporting
    Businesses need to shift priorities by redistributing the time spent on performing consolidation, making adjustments and generating reports, towards work focused on analysis for insights.
  • Redefining engagement models
    By redefining the engagement models between different business functions and finance, and between business units and shareholders, organisations can enhance information sharing of information and improve the decision-making process at all levels.
  • Implementing digital solutions and automation
    Best-fit digital solutions and automation can go a long way towards enhancing the productivity of finance functions by making data-driven decision-making available on demand through cloud-based solutions.
  • Reviewing existing organisation structures
    Reviewing and clearly defining the future operating model, roles and responsibilities of the finance function enables organisations to get the right people with the right skillsets in the right departments.

Making the changes sustainable

Addressing the needs of the organisation in a systematic manner involves a thorough analysis of the current state of the business before moving on to the transformation journey.

A comprehensive finance transformation roadmap allows the organisation to execute, deliver and implement the opportunities for change uncovered during the analysis phase. This brings a sustainable competitive advantage required for the organisation from a finance perspective.

Change is a necessity, and the finance function needs change to be ready for the future. It can be the engine room for value creation within an organisation, providing valuable insights to inform strategic decisions.

Discover the framework to implement successful finance transformation in our white paper, Winning Finance Transformation: Harnessing the Full Value of the Finance Function.