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Current Pace of Finance Could Threaten Corporate Agility

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Adaptive Insights recently released its global CFO Indicator report, which explores the pace of finance, its impact on agility, and what CFOs need to do to shorten their organisations’ time to decisions. Alarmingly, 77% of CFOs admit that major business decisions have been delayed due to stakeholders not having timely access to data and report significant delays with respect to tasks like reporting and ad hoc analysis.

“Corporate agility requires that organisations plan for multiple outcomes, particularly as economic conditions become increasingly uncertain, turbulent, and competitive,” said Robert. S. Hull, founder and chairman at Adaptive Insights. “CFOs can improve their organisations’ agility by accelerating the speed of scenario planning and analysis. By giving key stakeholders more immediate access to data, finance can dramatically improve decision-making—the key to maximising corporate performance.”

The report warns CFOs that the current pace of finance could threaten corporate agility and provides views on the practices that should be adopted to create a more forward-looking, agile environment.

Key findings in the report show that:

  • The finance team is spending over half (53%) of its time on reporting and data gathering alone. This leaves many organisations looking back at history, rather than forecasting forward
  • CFOs would like their teams to spend less time on report preparation and data collection (36%) and more time on forecasting and scenario analysis (40%). More and better analysis will lead to improved agility
  • CFOs (49%) believe predictive analytics will most contribute to agility, followed closely by dashboards and analytics (45%). CFOs desire to transition away from historical reporting, and toward a more forward-looking approach

The need for speed…in reporting and ad hoc analysis

This quarter’s report reveals that key decisions around such things as capital expenditures, resource allocations, and investments have been delayed because stakeholders don’t have timely access to data. With shrinking product and innovation cycles—not to mention ever-increasing global competition—these delays can mean the difference between the success or failure of the business.

CFOs (47%) report that it is taking 11+ days to get reports into the hands of stakeholders, yet they (56%) would like it to take no more than five days. Ad hoc analysis is also taking longer than desired, as CFOs (60%) say this task takes up to 5 days, yet they would like it to take no more than a day. Reporting and ad hoc analysis represent two key areas that can be improved to enable better agility.

The impact of technology on agility

The desire to move toward a more analytics-driven organisation appears to be impacting CFOs’ decisions when it comes to implementing technology. Dashboards and analytics top the list of future purchases, with 45% of CFOs saying they will invest in this type of solution by 2020, followed closely by budgeting and forecasting tools (40%).

Discouragingly, it appears that most organisations continue to depend on point solutions that do not provide the integrated access to data that SaaS solutions can provide. CFOs report that, on average, only 33% of their organisations’ infrastructure is SaaS today with a desire to get to 60% by 2020.

(Source: Adaptive Insights)

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