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CFOs, Cloud tech and the changing nature of finance and accounting

19/10/2022 minute read Daniel Docherty

Over the last several years, CFOs have become increasingly important in driving strategic financial goals within organisations. While the UK continues to face a cost-of-living crisis, these challenging times continue to disrupt finance functions in business.

Finance functions' operating models were previously determined by scale and cost, balancing business expectations with efficiency concerns. As a result of new and changing demands, CFOs must implement an operating model built around people, platforms, and partnerships.

Finance functions today can benefit from access to real-time data that allows them to better understand business performance and how to improve outcomes.

To ensure business continuity, CFOs need to automate manual processes to gain more time to make faster decisions and to work on value-adding projects.

Thus, CFOs should be more involved in strategic decision-making, not only with numbers, but also with digital transformation and HR initiatives.

Finance departments are changing, what does this mean for CFOs?

The finance function is facing possibly the biggest change in its history.

Coined as "financial guardians", CFOs must now provide insight, direction, and measure business outcomes while managing tough competition and growing customer demands to remain relevant in this scenario.

These new expectations have required a multifaceted skill set and a thorough understanding of Cloud technologies. In other words, CFOs have had to keep an eye on not only the changing role of the finance function, but also the upkeep of operational finance activities, strategic analysis, business systems and, most importantly, their staff.

The solution for many CFOs has been the adoption of Cloud-based finance and accounting software solutions to keep up with new demands through the automation of manual processes.

Although businesses are still placing a high focus on governance, risk management, and compliance, CFOs must continue to keep up with advances in technology and how they can manage big data efficiently.

What new skills and strategies do CFOs need when hiring?

CFOs and their finance teams will continue to face an uncertain world in which they need to get results despite a multitude of external factors that are beyond their control. This includes factors such as currency fluctuations and political instability.

What CFOs do have control over, however, is the responsibility and ability to plan for the future and empower their finance teams

As your business continues to face changes, having a framework to measure competence can ensure your team is prepared to support its operational finance needs. 

Identify areas where automation would be beneficial

The role of the finance department will continue to grow and evolve in terms of responsibility and agility.

Examine what of your existing processes or operational finance activities can be automated to create more efficiency and help your team provide greater value.

Therefore, it's time to upgrade outdated finance systems with Cloud accounting software that can streamline day-to-day processes while also providing data that is valuable to the business.

Take a good look at your team in terms of skills, expertise and headcount

Take a good look at your team in terms of skills, expertise and headcount.

In this process, be sure to include your insights about how individual members of the team would like to change their work patterns.

Consider proactive measures when it comes to important employees who plan to rise up the career ladder or leave the company.

Develop strategies for recruiting and retaining employees

Start planning now to make sure the right professionals are available for your finance department. 

As Gen Z enters the job market, you'll need to be prepared for the technology and HR expectations of this generation. 

A salary benchmarking process is also a good way to make sure you're offering competitive compensation and a comprehensive benefits package, including the opportunity to work on a flexible schedule.

A modern CFO should consider adopting a flexible recruitment plan

Flexibility is essential if you want to have the right people in the right places at the right time. Employing temporary specialised staff will open opportunities for managing specific projects outside the expertise of your current staff.

What modern finance and accounting solutions do CFOs need?

To make the most of digital transformation, CFOs should consider solutions to automate repetitive tasks and provide easy access to financial data in real time. Not only will these tools help ensure compliance, but they will allow better access to financial and operational data. This, in turn, will assist with functions such as automated alerts and scenario planning.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud technology empowers leaders to drive change like never before, whether they are in start-ups or large companies.

Using such tech-enabled solutions can modernise processes and systems with reduced risk and cost and provide instant access to real-time information.

There are many reasons to embrace cloud accounting software now, including:

Remote access to data no matter your location

Users can access the cloud through their web browser from any computer or device with an internet connection. No software needs to be downloaded locally.

Access to the data is easier since it's stored in remote locations, making it even more accessible to team members who often access it.

A constant and current source of data

When a user accesses financial data through the cloud, all data is current and up-to-date, and all users have access to the same numbers.

In addition to eliminating redundant reporting, the system minimises the risk of human error.

Focus time and effort where it's needed most

Today, the finance department must be more agile than ever before to meet business needs.

Cloud-based data accuracy allows for quicker, easier reporting, while freeing finance teams' time for more strategic initiatives.

Data transparency in your finance and accounting solutions

By familiarising themselves with digital, the finance function can utilise financial management processes in the Cloud to streamline everything from keeping the C-Suite, investors and employees informed about ESG progression and cash flow, for example, through transparent and clear financial reporting.

Implementing the right Cloud technology

By using data in real-time and automating manual processes, CFOs can support their business by ensuring investment is allocated correctly and that strategies are in line with corporate objectives.

In the current economic climate, doing so is vital to the very survival of the business.

Have a look at our Cloud financial management software, Advanced Financials and find out how we can help you lead the future of the finance function.