How the CFO Can Keep Control and be a Master of All

Debbie Green, VP of Applications, UKI at Oracle, discusses the growing role of the CFO, and how technology is enabling them to both get greater visibility over the business and achieve all of the many tasks expected of them.

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have never had more on their plate. According to a recent McKinsey Company report, five functions other than finance now report to the CFO: risk, regulatory compliance, M&A, IT and digitalisation. Stretching themselves across all of these areas makes CFOs not just extremely busy, but puts a lot of responsibility on their plate, especially when they’re doing all this while facing economic uncertainty, strict regulations and scrutiny from investors. When you consider that these leaders, like the rest of us, only have a limited number of productive hours in a day, then how can we make sure they’re focusing on the most important parts of their jobs?

In our demanding business landscape, we need to understand that the CFO is required to be a true strategic leader, not just the head of the finance department.

For CFOs, thriving at work has, for a while now, meant more than being good with numbers. Especially in today’s terms, it means ‘getting ahead’ of any uncertainty and equipping themselves with the power of future-gazing, being able to look ahead and apply reliable insight to any future scenarios. Nearly half of businesses have changed their models to become more agile and the CFO is expected to be the driving force behind that.

For CFOs, thriving at work has, for a while now, meant more than being good with numbers.

The CFO has been given all of their additional responsibilities thanks to their unique position at the helm of the organisation. Our heads of finance are among an elite few with access to data pertaining to all parts of the business. This is especially the case as regulations and compliance laws become stricter, resulting in different business units, even within one company, putting access to their own individual data sets on lock-down. And, if you only have a few people allowed a true oversight of connected data and processes in an age where businesses are driven by data? You take full advantage of it.

Here’s where we need to empower the CFO to do all they can to make the best use of all business information; both by having a platform from which they can easily access and understand it, and secondly, making sure they have enough time in their day to make full use of it.

It’s under these conditions that we’re seeing CFOs start to turn to ERP solutions with embedded artificial intelligence. By both freeing up and maximising their time, they help make the best use of the productive hours they have available. After all, CFOs are still dedicating far too much of their time to tasks that just keep the finance function up and running. Requisitions, purchase orders and vendor invoicing need to happen. But, when cloud-based ERP with automation comes with the intelligent financial management capabilities to handle these routine duties, it not only frees CFOs up from doing them – but makes them more reliable as it eliminates human error. Given recent Accenture research showed finance staff spend an average of 60% and 70% of their time on tasks such as processing transactions, accounting, controlling, compliance and reporting, that’s a lot more time back in their day. This time can instead be spent on the more strategic parts of their job, finding insights that empower the valuable guidance they can give the CEO and help to drive the business forward.

Organisations need their leaders to be pushing themselves where it matters, focusing as much as possible on the bigger picture and going above and beyond in their mission to perfect their business strategy. Equipped with cloud-based ERP applications that add automation to the equation, CFOs can speed up manual tasks as well as eliminate time-consuming and costly upgrades from their routines. Imagine a future where the CFO is able to juggle all the jobs they have at hand, ensuring everything happens as effectively as possible, while also making sure the largest chunk of their time is dedicated to progressing their business. An attractive proposition, right?

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