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Ian Perry, Principal Solutions Architect at Zscaler, shares his thoughts on financial services modernisation with Finance Monthly.

This past year has seen the financial services industry speed up the implementation of many digital processes. Not only did the global pandemic force banks to shut, employees to work from home and consumers to use digital payments services both online and in-person, it has also raised questions around the brick-and-mortar heavy model of banking, with many pointing to a fully digital financial future.

Maximising digital investments

Despite the technical capabilities available to assist in such a move, no analysis of how the financial industry is attempting to modernise would be complete without a reference to the sector’s legacy infrastructures holding them back.

This isn’t because of a lack of desire to modernise. In fact, most financial firms are quite well advanced in their cloud journey. The financial services industry as a whole has already invested heavily in digital transformation and is well aware of the benefits of moving workloads to the cloud in the backend. However, many financial services CTOs have not necessarily been able to move the corresponding infrastructure and users along the same path. This means that unfortunately, many financial services firms have been unable to fully realise their investments in new applications and cloud platforms to the frustration of many financial services CTOs and CFOs alike.

Many financial services are unfortunately falling into the trap of developing hybrid infrastructures that are flexible enough to adapt to some new digital services and requirements yet are still based within old foundations. We often see core banking applications stay in mainframe on-premise networks, whilst more general apps and functions, such as office and admin related tools, are moved to the cloud. For example, there has been a huge uptake in banks migrating to the cloud-based Office 365, which promises the agility required to adapt to our new digital ways of working. However, all the benefits and functions of new digital tools like Office 365 are often at odds with legacy network set-ups, and this inability to harmonise new tools with old systems is holding banks back.

The financial services industry as a whole has already invested heavily in digital transformation and is well aware of the benefits of moving workloads to the cloud in the backend.

The pandemic has only led to further existential frustrations around the banking model itself. For example, is there really a need for massive HQ locations? Is there still a demand for individual branches, which require complex architectures to secure all traffic? There are many predictions as to what the branch of the future might look like, but ultimately, the industry must face the facts that there will be less reliance on branches and more pressure on digital services.

Staying ahead of the curve

As other industries continue to innovate at a quick pace by maximising their cloud deployments, consumers and employees alike will increasingly expect seamless experiences across all their touchpoints with a financial services organisation as well. Taking a page out of the digital transformation of other consumer services, the finance industry must assess the journey of banking from a user’s point of view, rather than driven by processes and necessity. “Digital transformation” for banks is no longer providing the capability of a digitally scanned cheque – the ecosystem is far more reactive and more user-focused as the market opens with more options available, many of which are geared to disrupting legacy organisations and processes.

As such, agility is more important than ever if the financial sector hopes to adapt to new business models, while managing and deploying products remotely worldwide in a consistent manner. For financial teams spread across the world especially, agility in the market is more important than ever to manage and deploy products worldwide in a consistent manner. Many banks own different brands to drive differentiation in regional markets, and this behaviour needs to be reflected in their operating model. Not only do regional compliance needs apply, but markets have very different demands based on their local consumer needs.

Adopting enablers

These growing pressures don’t necessarily mean that financial firms have to undergo complex and expensive overhauls of their existing legacy infrastructure to fully realise the promise of the cloud. A future-proof infrastructure that can support flexible requirements during the pandemic and beyond, while delivering a great user experience, increasing productivity, and supporting business continuity is possible to implement. Indeed, true network transformation drives beneficial outcomes from a risk and cost reduction perspective without requiring heavy technical lifting.

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For example, the growing popularity in the financial sector of the “Zero Trust” approach has been touted by many as a solid solution for financial services in particular. Many banks still rely on the legacy “perimeter” approach to securing their data – which focuses on stopping intrusions. However, the Zero Trust approach instead enables banks to “trust no one” as default, and requires further security before allowing access to secure assets.

This is every banking CTO’s dream as a Zero Trust model allows for traffic to run securely through the internet instead of having to run through corporate IT, which enables banks to have maintenance-free branches. Individual branches are not only more flexible and significantly easier to maintain – but costs are dramatically reduced. Furthermore, a Zero Trust model allows banks to fully realise the benefits of cloud-based tools like Office 365 as they can be deployed safely through the internet, rather than relying on legacy corporate IT systems. From this transition alone, it’s possible to see how financial services infrastructures can enable convenience and simplicity. A complicated refurbishment is no longer required to implement digital delivery of all the key requirements that customers expect from banking services, but with the same – if not more advanced - secure and frictionless experiences offered by other industries.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that financial services need to urgently assess their capabilities for keeping up customer demands and ability to innovate quickly, if they want to survive in our rapidly changing world. Only by truly realising the benefits that were promised by the cloud infrastructure financial services were so quick to adopt, can the industry shake off the curse of legacy infrastructure for good.

Tim Wakeford, VP for Financials Product Strategy at Workday, offers his insight to CFOs looking to lead their business back to strength.

After a year where organisations were forced to continuously change plans and rethink their approach to business recovery, the future is finally looking less turbulent, with a potential COVID-19 vaccine on the way. One fundamental transformation 2020 brought to businesses, however, will continue informing the next year. Leaders will be looking to the CFO for insights on the business and guidance to decide their next move.

If the early stages of the pandemic have taught us anything, it is that companies need good quality data to make faster decisions. The question is, what data-driven insights do CFOs have to provide companies to deliver the best response to persistent change?

It could be argued that all data is valuable. Nonetheless, CFOs must focus on three particular data-led insights to steer businesses to recovery. They need to provide visibility into working capital, empower other leaders with data, and manage investor expectations with scenario planning. In doing so, they will be in a strong position for success in 2021 and be able to guide the business through any challenges the future may bring.

Gain greater visibility into working capital

The first priority all CFOs have in common is being able to share real-time visibility over their business’ financial inflows and outflows in order to manage cash pressures. This is because many businesses have seen revenues plunge during the pandemic, which had a negative impact on cash flow. In fact, 94% of the Fortune 1000 are seeing coronavirus supply chain disruptions and facing the reality that they will need to become more agile in managing inventory. The disruption of the second wave is heightening financial pressures and will likely mean that CFOs have to reassess their budgets again and again. Without a real time view of working capital, moments of disruption can lead executives to make decisions in a panic. This could result in significant inventory spend with non-preferential suppliers, which in turn reduces the potential for savings from contractual discounts, and is common during turbulent times. Having a 360-degree view of the organisation’s working capital, however, can provide a better handle on spend management, optimising costs and overall efficiency. This will help leaders avoid risks that can set them back, and help them to accelerate recovery.

The first priority all CFOs have in common is being able to share real-time visibility over their business’ financial inflows and outflows in order to manage cash pressures.

Empower the organisation to make data-driven decisions

Getting the right data-led insights into the business to guide decisions can be challenging during a constant state of change. However data-driven insights are absolutely key in empowering decision-making — even during the best of times. Providing the right data, to the right people at the right time, can only be done by breaking down the data silos still present in many companies. A global Workday study revealed that out-of-date information and siloed teams are the biggest barriers to agile decision making. On the other hand, 80% of technology leaders from more agile companies stated that employees have access to timely and relevant data without gatekeepers blocking access to such information.

The challenge is that, as many businesses have grown and evolved they have accumulated different technologies — systems that are often placed together and lack smooth integration or a single pane view of what is happening in the organisation. CFOs whose businesses have reporting scattered across different data sources will find that it is much slower and harder to monitor performance, identify variances, and surface risk. This is why CFOs and finance teams have to consider investing in overhauling their technology stacks. Our customer Equiniti, for example, found that having all HR and financial data in the same cloud helped identify challenges and respective solutions with much more agility and confidence during the pandemic. This way, they were able to fix gaps quicker, without slowing their recovery plans.

Manage investor expectations with scenario planning

The uncertainty and volatility created by the pandemic has led to markets swinging back and forth. In turn, this creates pressure from investor communities and has served to highlight one of the biggest challenges organisations face — determining the long-term future of a business. In the current state of constant change, CFOs and their teams cannot underestimate the importance of taking a strategic approach to investor relations. Besides sharing earnings reports, it’s the CFO and its team’s role to offer constant reassurance to stakeholders by communicating how management teams are dealing with the crisis.

Therefore, when talking to investors, leaders have three choices: withdraw, revise, or reaffirm guidance. A recent Deloitte report revealed that more than half of CFOs from public companies have chosen to withdraw from providing guidance. Although understandable, this could signal that leaders are unsure of their company’s prospects and have a downward impact on stocks.

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When faced with this lack of clarity, finance leaders must stay ahead of the curve and give invaluable insights to investors by undertaking scenario planning. Many of our customers are basing their entire recovery plans on multiple pictures of their budget using what-if scenarios, and it’s proven equally important for investor insights. CFOs can build scenarios to better understand what the future may look like in areas of particular interest to investors, such as covenants. Deploying these types of forward-looking processes will help businesses prove their stability, ensuring sustained recovery and emphasising their long-term objectives with clear metrics.

The strategic role of the CFO for business recovery

The pandemic has shifted the role of the financial office for good. Everyone – from HR and commercial teams to investors – are now looking to the CFO for guidance and to spearhead the business through upcoming disruption. Armed with the right insights, plans and tools, the CFO will be able to lead their organisation to a swift recovery and prepare the business to thrive, whatever the future holds.

Simon Shaw, Head of Financial Services and Insurance at Software AG, outlines three ways in which larger banks can – and must – make their business models more agile.

In the months since COVID-19 reared its ugly head and changed the way we live, there has been a noticeable uptick in conversations around digital transformation and embedding resilience. In the banking sector, the focus had been on the increased demand for online banking and questions around how banking monoliths will adapt.

The reality is that big banks can adapt – albeit slower than other industries. That’s not to say that change isn’t happening; banks have been transforming for years to align with changing customer needs. However, it’s a distinctly difficult and complex challenge. In fact, one of the primary challenges with digitalisation in banking is that moving quickly doesn’t happen easily. Of course, CFOs and financial leaders would love to quickly pivot their operations to meet changing needs and new requirements, but in their current state, most incumbent banks don’t yet have that capacity.

To achieve digitalisation, banks are grappling with many moving parts. From regulatory requirements, to safeguarding customer data, to overcoming silos – and that’s before we consider the sheer cost of it all. I have identified three ways for established banks to pivot more quickly and efficiently in today’s climate.

1. Go Hybrid or Go Home

A significant challenge in the digitalisation of big banks is that their ecosystems simply weren’t designed to enable quick transformation. Changes that may seem simple, or are simple in other sectors, can require full programme rewrites when applied in banking. The legacy systems on which most large banks are built are clunky and inflexible. Since these systems don’t run in real-time, they’ll never compete with the efficiency and analytic capabilities of challenger banks. Yet, despite that, these established systems actually hold the key to future success in banking – data.

The wealth of data contained within a heritage system has the potential to entirely transform the customer experience. However, to do so, banks must be able to access and integrate that data at speed.

A significant challenge in the digitalisation of big banks is that their ecosystems simply weren’t designed to enable quick transformation.

Hybrid cloud presents the best of both worlds; it combines the operational stability of on-premise solutions with the scalability, reduced cost and data accessibility of the cloud. Breaking up isn’t easy but, according to IBM, banks that are outperforming their competitors are 88% more likely to have incorporated hybrid cloud into their business model. For banks with decades of data in monolithic technology stacks, turning certain data and tasks over to the cloud can significantly lighten the load on their ecosystem to improve efficiencies.

2. Visualising Opportunities for Change

Digital transformation has changed banking expectations. Customers want speed and convenience and banks are competing to deliver. Excellence requires efficiency, but that can be difficult to achieve.

Process mining identifies optimisation opportunities and strives for excellence in process performance. As the name suggests, process mining delves into the detail of what occurs as a process is actioned, revealing patterns, anomalies and the root causes for inefficiencies. With greater insight into processes, banks are able to make informed decisions and tangible improvements to quality and performance. To compete with the challengers, established banks need to embed the ability to adapt to changing business requirements and make transformation routine. The first step to this is visualisation.

If hybrid cloud is the vehicle by which digitalisation is achieved, process mining is the check engine light.

3. The Building Blocks of Better Banking 

One of the biggest challenges to transformation lies in evolving away from heritage applications. Transitioning from old to new is daunting and can come with a hefty price tag. Microservices enable banks to transform piece by piece and scale at a controlled rate.

Transformation in data-reliant and regulation-heavy sectors will never be a walk in a park, however, microservices start small by design. This returns much needed control to banks and ensures complex changes are developed and tested independently before being integrated into the banking ecosystem.

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To fundamentally change business operations, the very foundations of that organisation need to be redesigned. This applies across industry, which is why, between 2018 and 2023, the microservices market is predicted to nearly triple as more organisations shift their transformation up a gear.

Microservices embed agility and efficiency from the outset, making digitalisation a cultural and technological change. By returning control and enabling a customer-centric and scalable design, transformation can add big value to big banks.

Agility is essential, but moving a monolith isn’t easy

In banking, where archaic systems and rigidity have been governing organisational change for years, digital transformation really means reinvention and growth. While the end-goal is easily defined – agility, resilience, scalability, digitalisation, etc. – it’s difficult to know what’s needed to achieve it. When the dependencies, regulatory requirements and price of change are thrown into the mix, it’s no wonder that change takes time in the financial sector.

Hybrid cloud, process mining and microservices create the foundations for development by embedding transformation capabilities into the very core of a banks system. While financial institutes will always be subject to a high level of scrutiny, strategic solutions that bring order, visibility and an ability to compete with smaller and more agile banks are truly transformative.

Tenable's Adam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, and John Salomon, FS-ISAC Director, Continental EU, Middle East, & Africa, explain the benefits of CFOs and other executives involving cybersecurity in their roles.

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, on behalf of Tenable, found that currently only four in ten UK business leaders can confidently answer the question, “How secure are we?” There is a disconnect between business leaders, financial teams and security leaders in how they manage and communicate cyber risk. As such, cybersecurity needs to evolve as a part of the business strategy.

The Cybersecurity “Communication Gap”

Most mature businesses understand how to perform a basic assessment of the wide range of risks that impact their organisation. Cyber risk is often the exception. Cyber risk management is well established. However, business leaders, such as CFOs, don’t usually “speak” security, and techies don’t often know how to quantitatively measure, or explain, the degree of exposure to cybersecurity threats in a business context. As a result, the link between cybersecurity and the business can be lost in translation. Security is often seen solely as a cost to the business, rather than a means of preventing losses, or even a driver for increased revenue and overall success. Aligning the security programme to financial objectives improves understanding of value and drives support for corporate policies that support effective cyber risk management.

Cybersecurity Awareness – a Two-Way Street

Responsibility for ensuring effective cybersecurity risk management does not belong entirely to the CISO. Success depends on the rest of the organisation making an effort to also understand cybersecurity risk. This is not to say that a CFO must be a cybersecurity expert, as the onus is on the CISO to “speak the language of business.” Rather that financial leaders should at least have a fundamental grasp of cybersecurity. Using car ownership as an analogy, a driver does not have to know how to assemble an internal combustion engine. It is reasonable, though, to expect a competent driver to understand how to change a flat tire, check the oil level, and most crucially, when to listen to a professional mechanic.

Responsibility for ensuring effective cybersecurity risk management does not belong entirely to the CISO.

Most importantly, the infosec organisation must not be seen as a necessary evil. Rather than treating the CISO and their team as expensive alarmists, a CFO must make an effort to comprehend some of the basic concepts of cybersecurity, and the ramifications to the organisation’s finances of not having a capable, empowered security organisation. Furthermore, the cybersecurity organisation can only do its job effectively if their security risk assessment activities are backed by unambiguous, strong policies.

Seeking Clear Answers from the Security Team

The CISO must distil the highly complex topic of cybersecurity into concise, relevant messages without “dumbing it down” for business and finance leaders. While the CISO should present a measurable view of the organisation’s cyber risk exposure using internal and external comparative benchmarks, the CFO should ensure they understand the basics around:

  1. Where are we exposed?
  2. Where should we prioritise based on risk?
  3. How are we reducing our exposure over time?

Describing the target state of the security programme should be based on an understanding of risk, not blindly applying capability maturity levels. Organisations need the ability to identify and quantify their level of risk and exposure. This should be done in collaboration with the C-Suite. Cross-functional collaboration will turn the organisation’s security strategy into a “living” strategy, and ensures business alignment on priorities, costs, and needs.

Is compliance the end goal?

Many organisations will look to regulatory standards to determine their cybersecurity goals or “target state.” While there is value in meeting these baseline requirements, checking a box doesn’t necessarily equate to appropriate secure practices or addressing financial risk. Minimum, compliance-based security is not adequate security. Instead, organisations should work to really understand their critical assets, identify the vulnerabilities that affect them and create a security programme that addresses this.

By adopting a quantifiable approach to security that benchmarks internally and externally, and is aligned to business and finance objectives, it becomes much easier to define a target risk state and measure overall effectiveness. This also allows a firm to get a head start on meeting their regulatory requirements and improving communication with regulators.

CFOs need to work with CISOs in order to gain an understanding of their company’s security risk including the financial costs associated with it - both from a risk perspective, but also where technology investment might be needed. While finance can’t be expected to understand the technology or how it works, it is important to understand why it matters, including the role each new investment plays in closing the cyber exposure gap. To provide the level of detail needed to determine and reduce risks, the CISO needs to be able to determine, understand and report the following information to senior management:

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Stronger together 

Historically, cybersecurity initiatives are seldom aligned with business and finance objectives, but that must change.

Security leaders are challenged to prioritise where they focus effort — not just when it comes to vulnerabilities, but their entire cybersecurity strategy in general. By placing cyber risk management as part of an overall risk framework, business and financial executives can more easily assess whether best practices are being implemented effectively.

To do this, the CFO must work with the CISO to align cost, performance, and risk reduction objectives with business needs. This means providing a holistic understanding and assessment of the entire attack surface, with good visibility into the security of the most business-critical assets. The CFO should seek defined metrics and benchmarking processes, tied to business performance and process improvement from the CISO. Adopting this transparent, quantifiable approach will help the business understand cyber risk clearly, predict new threats, and act effectively.

The result is business-aligned security leaders that ensure their strategies are in lockstep with financial priorities. This collaboration with the CFO not only develops effective strategies and communicable metrics, but actually works to support organisational goals.

Robert Douglas, Europe Planning Director at Workday Adaptive Planning, explains how effective digitalisaiton has been a lifeline for finance teams in the wake of the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, chief financial officers (CFOs) around the world were thrust into uncharted territory. All previous plans went off the table, and businesses’ ability to make rapid and data-driven decisions in the face of uncertainty have been put to the test ever since. Agility took on a new meaning in the age of COVID.

In a recent survey, hundreds of CFOs around the world were asked to share what their priorities have been in the immediate response to the pandemic and how they will change over the next year. Predictably, cost containment and workforce planning has been front of mind for many in the short term. However, looking a year ahead, the implementation of digital transformation will be a growing priority.

As finance looks at how it can improve the way in which it can assist executives throughout the organisation with quick and confident decision-making, the implementation and use of sophisticated digital technologies will indeed play a key role. While finance has been slower than others at embracing digitalisation, COVID-19 has made the importance of it abundantly clear and is acting as a catalyst for much needed change.

The case for digital transformation

More than half (54%) of CFOs currently report that their organisation has implemented some aspect of digital transformation. This includes moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, automating nonstrategic tasks, establishing a ‘single source of truth’ through data optimisation, and using predictive analytics powered by artificial intelligence.

The benefits of making these changes are clear, with around three quarters of CFOs overseeing a digitally transformed finance team being confident in both their teams’ capacity to carry out all critical finance functions (79%) and the accuracy of their two-year P&L forecast (73%). Only around 40% of CFOs from less digitalised organisations say the same.

While finance has been slower than others at embracing digitalisation, COVID-19 has made the importance of it abundantly clear and is acting as a catalyst for much needed change.

Digital transformation also gives finance teams the agility needed to operate in the current climate. The strengthening of data accuracy and automation of much of the analysis means that teams can more easily lay out multiple future scenarios for the business and help executives devise strategies for how to adapt to them as early as possible. While not everything can be predicted or planned for, the time it takes to readjust to surprises is shortened. As important, it underscores the great divide between organisations that have embraced digital transformation and those that have not.

Why the lag?

In terms of what has slowed down digital transformation for many CFOs, the prioritisation of crisis management in the face of COVID-19 is just one piece of the puzzle—many would have been stalling anyway.

When asked what is hindering digital transformation in their businesses, the two leading roadblocks are lack of skills and internal resistance to change. While overcoming both of those obstacles might be challenging, the good news is that CFOs have it in their power to do so.

CFOs need to work closely with HR to determine how to acquire the necessary skills to use modern financial planning software and strike the optimal balance between recruiting new staff and reskilling current employees. At the same time, it is crucial for finance leaders to set a positive example, by experimenting with new technologies and empowering employees to proactively highlight areas of inefficiency or untapped value that can be improved by establishing news ways of working or investing in new solutions.

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The time is now

Transforming the finance function is not an easy task, but now more than ever it is necessary to both bolster productivity within finance and prepare the organisation for unforeseen challenges. Thankfully, almost all finance teams that have not digitally transformed their ways of working over the past year plan on doing so over the next. This will benefit their businesses and make the economy overall more robust in its response to crises.

Mark White, Financial Performance Management Specialist at MHR Analytics, outlines the steps financial specialists must take to keep projects from falling short.

It may come as a surprise, but research shows technology accounts for less than 1% of financial transformation failures.

Unfortunately, technology is often used as the scapegoat when the promised benefits fail to accrue from a major project. The reality is that most transformations fall short because neither an organisation’s leadership, nor its employees have developed the necessary growth mindset.

It’s here that the role of the CFO is critical in financial transformation. Firstly, to sell the transformation vision to the C-level executives and secondly, to empower and encourage the finance team and make them central to the journey. When the CFO knows the team is ready for change and understands the benefits, he or she has greater confidence in taking on the risk of transformation. Because employees let go of the past, they change with less resistance and become productive in the new situation.

At the outset it is important for the CFO to have a clear vision of what the organisation is trying to achieve and deliver. This is where the use of external expertise can make a significant contribution, helping understand the ‘art of the possible’.

Once this is understood, the organisation should set a realistic scope and matching expectations, taking small, manageable steps rather than trying to “boil the ocean”. Remember, transformation is an ongoing process and it should have no time limits.

At the outset it is important for the CFO to have a clear vision of what the organisation is trying to achieve and deliver.

As well as having the right mindset, devoting enough time to focus on transformation through strategising, training and delivering can also be a major cause of project failure. It is important to prioritise the use of internal expertise to deliver transformation, encouraging input and buy-in. But when the required know-how is absent internally it will be necessary to seek external help.

We can summarise the journey to financial transformation in a three-step process.

Step 1 – set a vision

The CFO and the finance team should set the vision. Finance teams should consider where they want to be on the scale that goes from bean-counters to strategists. It’s worth canvassing the organisation for its perceptions as a starting point.

Then teams need to get into the nitty-gritty of each process, identifying where there are inefficiencies, potential barriers and what their impact will be. Some limitations may be around systems and technologies or available resources and skills. Identifying the future impact on resource and skill-sets may be difficult at this early stage, but it is worth the effort.

From here the team should set out a high-level plan for transformation, mapping key steps and quick wins, quantifying benefits, and calculating an outline cost. External expertise may well be necessary to achieve this. The output from these efforts is a strategic finance transformation plan that the CFO should sell to the CEO and the board.

Step 2 - select a technology platform and partner

Pull together detailed requirements, platform restrictions and a deployment methodology. This will result in a selection process to identify the technology platform and partner that best suits your needs.

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Step 3 - start with quick wins and then move on

The transformation team should now look for quick wins because it is critical to build confidence and momentum in the early stages. Starting with process improvements to free key staff to deliver further transformation. Once the foundations are in place, the finance team can start to effect change in the organisation, improving perceptions of its role.

Conclusion

Transformation, like time, never stops, but it does not have to start with a Big Bang event that causes shockwaves in an organisation. The transformation journey needs to begin with setting a vision for the CFO and finance team. Once this is in place, an organisation should select a technology platform and partner for delivery. Finally, it must deliver transformation as an ongoing initiative, using external expertise for guidance when required. This is the three-step approach that makes financial transformation far more likely to deliver success for the finance team and the organisation it serves. It should no longer be necessary to blame the technology.

Mark Freebairn, Partner and Head of the CFO Practice at Odgers Berndtson, explains how organisations can overcome the limitations of Zoom interviews when hiring senior finance professionals.

Executive search is about understanding people – what motivates them, what they’re good at, what they’re proud of, how they behave when faced with adversity and whether they’re lying about what they’re telling you. All of this can be discerned through physical reactions – whether it’s a tapping finger, a twitching leg, holding their hands in their lap or even sitting straighter in their chair. These physical cues act as spotlights that give away important information about a person, so that eventually, a good 90% of them is revealed.

But when that person becomes reduced to a small box on your screen (which only shows their upper torso) you only get about 65 to 80% of the individual. When you’re appointing a new CFO or finance director, understanding only 65% about a candidate isn’t good enough, yet now more than ever, organisations need to make senior finance hires. Whilst the UK and other countries are ‘opening up’, many firms are still maintaining strict social distancing measures and the risk of second or even third waves means that remote interviews are here to stay.

The only option, therefore, is to overcome the limitations of virtual hiring by adapting the process so that both ‘fit’ and skills competencies can be successfully discerned over a screen, for what will be one of the most important appointments an organisation can make.

When you’re appointing a new CFO or finance director, understanding only 65% about a candidate isn’t good enough.

This should start with the expansion of the interviewing pool. By introducing the candidate to more people in the organisation – both formally and informally – you can start to build up a picture of that person from the opinions of others who may have elicited responses you may have missed or asked questions that you might not have thought of. Piecing together multiple views on a candidate enables the hiring party to assess cultural fit and also has the advantage of increasing candidate care. Perceived or otherwise, there is a heightened level of risk for candidates moving jobs at this time, and what’s more, many feel a stronger sense of loyalty to current employers so that even the most attractive roles require a more attentive approach. By introducing a candidate to more people from across your organisation, you demonstrate that you understand the risk the candidate is taking and that you are serious about the role in question.

Conducting more soft referencing achieves a similar outcome to that of increasing the number interviews – you can build an image of the candidate from other people who have worked with them and know them. By taking these references yourself, you can get a ‘first-hand’ account of who that person is, and ask the questions that reflect the needs of your organisation. For example, is this person going to fit in with our culture which is progressive, open to new ideas and less hierarchically structured? Or on the other hand, will this person help us move the needle on our organisation’s look and feel, which is perhaps more traditional in its thinking? These are things that can be surmised in person but are more much more difficult to find out over a Zoom call.

Another effective method of overcoming the limitations of virtual interviews is the use of scientific measures to evidence intuitive assessments of candidates, i.e. psychological assessment tools. These assess leadership characteristics such as how driven an individual is, whether they are capable of making courageous decisions or if they’re more inclined to take easier options, whether they are inclusive problem solvers or siloed thinkers and if they are risk takers or risk averse. These tools don’t just assess the attributes of the candidate in question but also how they fit in with the rest of the C-suite. They may be highly inclusive and determined but lack entrepreneurialism, which may be absolutely fine because you already have that behavioural trait in your leadership team.

These tools don’t just assess the attributes of the candidate in question but also how they fit in with the rest of the C-suite.

Finally, it is worth recognising the benefits of Zoom interviews. They will, at times, give you a deeper understanding of a candidate than if you were to meet them in person. When a wayward child or excitable pet crashes the interview, seeing how that person responds will give you a very good insight into what their character is like and how they deal with the unexpected. And whilst (the majority of the time) they are certainly more formal, making it harder to evaluate EQ and chemistry indicators, this does leave more room for competency assessment. Organisations interviewing for CFOs or finance directors should be asking questions to ascertain whether the candidate has been a strong guarantor of financial integrity, a good function leader, someone who can drive operational support and challenge all levels of decision making across the business, and is importantly a strategic partner to the chief executive or the managing director.

What’s more, a Zoom interview is a good indicator of emerging leadership competencies. If the candidate is patient, articulate, demonstrates the ability to listen and to read an interviewing panel’s ‘mood’ virtually, then they are more likely to have the sort of skills required for a future where they will need to lead teams both on-site and who are working remotely. We’re also finding that the absence of ‘physical presence’ in interviews is likely to be reducing unconscious gender bias and having the same effect as ‘blind CVs’ and gender-neutral recruitment.

Despite the challenges posed by virtual hiring and interviewing, you can still carry out a highly effective c-suite search and appointment during the pandemic. It is difficult, it can be overly formal and at times you may feel like you’re struggling to get a ‘feel’ for the candidate, but by adapting the process correctly you can overcome all of this and in fact, are more likely to identify and appoint the sort of leader that is fit for the new world we are emerging in to.

Peter Ryding, founder of Vicyourcoach.com and award-winning CEO mentor, discusses the prevalence of imposter syndrome in the financial sector and how it can be tackled.

The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for a long time, materially and psychologically. COVID-19 is not a leveller. It is divisive in who and how it strikes and in its wider impacts.

July has seen a record-breaking spike in unemployment and the sharpest economic downturn in living memory with the IMF predicting global GDP will shrink by nearly 5% this year.

McKinsey foresees a dramatic impact on mental health.  As witnessed after the 2007-08 global financial crash, depression and anxiety escalated coupled with alcohol and drug use. Suicides rose by 13% with an estimated 46,000 lives lost due to unemployment and income stress.

COVID-19, however, has more in its armoury than previous financial crises. Aside from financial concerns, lockdown isolation and profound uncertainty around ‘new normal’ working environments are likely to create significant and far-reaching mental health issues.

For both humane and commercial reasons, business leaders should be alarmed and ready to act. Mental health is highly correlated with productivity. According to The Mental Health Foundation, addressing wellbeing in the workplace increases productivity by as much as 12%. And that’s during ‘normal times’. The immediate hit to productivity now and in the near future is likely to be considerably greater.

Mental health is highly correlated with productivity.

So, now is undoubtedly the time for strong, resilient and compassionate leadership. Clarity of leadership and practical support are both needed over the months and years ahead.

However, in recent discussions with CEOs and CFOs, unsurprisingly, I have seen a huge increase in stress and self-belief and confidence have taken a hit. Not only are they tackling some of the biggest challenges they have ever had to face but also facing their own job security and safety concerns. Finance in particular has been in the eye of the storm, navigating their organisations through the tumult, safeguarding and advising on financial stability and integrity.

Through my work as a coach to CEOs and boards, I know that confidence and resilience are often skin deep. Impostor syndrome is widespread.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise? The most severe cases of imposter syndrome are often observed in sectors which recruit and promote overachievers and demand the highest standards. Finance is a classic example with long hours as standard and a tough competitive culture. To be noticed, employees have to continuously outperform and work even harder than their peers so it’s unsurprising that they often suffer chronic self-doubt. Add COVID pressures into the mix and it's a recipe for a mental health tsunami.

Even the most outwardly confident and successful executives live in fear of being exposed. Which is why ‘self-confidence’, ‘overcoming self-limiting beliefs’ and ‘resilience’ are some of the most requested skills within VIC, the e-coaching and e-learning platform I founded.

What is impostor syndrome, and how does it affect the financial sector?

Imposter syndrome is a pattern of behaviour where people doubt their success and accomplishments despite strong evidence to the contrary. Impostor syndrome not only affects mental and physical wellbeing, it also negatively impacts performance, productivity and proactivity. It stymies innovation and restrains bold leadership. By sapping self-confidence and self-esteem, it can prevent you from achieving your potential and block the organisation reaching its goals.

People exhibiting traits of imposter syndrome have an internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud. Indicators include being a workaholic, being a perfectionist, never asking for help and needing to know everything yet never knowing enough. These traits are often encouraged and rewarded in the finance.

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According to recent research nearly 60% of workers in accountancy, banking and finance have experienced imposter syndrome and whilst both men and women experience it, women seem to suffer more than men. A 2019 report by Access Commercial Finance found two-thirds of women had experienced feeling like a fraud in the previous 12 months and only half of men. Disparities still exist in female representation at senior levels in the financial services sector. Whilst 44% of the workforce are women, they make up only a third of senior management. External validation alleviates imposter feelings and a lack of inclusion, role models and positive support reinforces self-doubt.

So, what can you do to overcome impostor syndrome?

For some, impostor feelings are fleeting, and for others they are persistent. There are practical measures you can take against them. For example:

Actions to address impostor syndrome in your organisation

Impostor syndrome negatively impacts the success of your whole organisation. So, take positive action to address it.

We want to reach out and help businesses, teams and employees during these extraordinary times by offering VIC for free. VIC gives an interactive ‘coach in your pocket’ for all employees with self-coaching tools and thousands of hours of multi-media content to help with self-confidence, stress, resilience and a host of other personal and business skills.

Tim Wakeford, VP of Product Strategy at Workday, outlines the benefits of agile financial planning and the research backing it.

It’s hard to be certain how long the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will last. Recent predictions estimate 2025 as the finish line for recovery, but this isn’t the first and won’t be the last forecast we see. However, as we adapt our strategies to recover, one thing remains clear: COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how businesses make plans worldwide. I’ve been talking to many customers to understand what they’ve been doing to weather the storm and what they’ve valued the most is having the agility to respond quickly to changes.

Agility to gain business resilience

Being agile when faced with change has always been a defining characteristic of companies that respond well to competitive threats. A Workday study on organisational agility showed that top-performing companies were ten times more likely to react quickly to market shifts, proving that agility is often a synonym for performance. During the pandemic, agility has emerged as the defining attribute of organisations which are responding well to the current crisis. Moving forward, it will be the essential tool to draw a much needed resilient course for growth.

To build agility into an organisation, processes need to be transformed. Finance sits at the heart of this transformation, simply because it touches every aspect of a business. The finance department is responsible for the budgeting and forecasting of activities — all essential planning processes that will map recovery. Three out of four finance executives admit their planning processes have not prepared them for economic disruption, let alone a global pandemic. They have found the key to respond better to this and any future crises in adopting three agile processes: scenario planning, continuous planning and rolling forecasts.

To build agility into an organisation, processes need to be transformed.

Scenario planning to anticipate impacts

From the moment companies started to send employees home and supply chains were interrupted, the future became more uncertain and organisations were forced to ask themselves “what if?”. What if our workforce has to work from home for the rest of the year? What if our supply chain is interrupted for 60 days? With tools that provide the ability to build-out scenarios, businesses can ask these questions and understand what different versions of their future might look like. With roadmaps laid out, they’re able to not only identify future risk but also look for new opportunities. During the first months of the pandemic, we’ve seen organisations create up to 30 times more build-out scenarios than usual in our platform. The value of this strategy has been proven beyond financial planning: Oxford University, for instance, has an approach to scenario planning used by scientists and policymakers when facing situations of global impact.

As we move towards recovery, the future is just as unclear. A recent survey conducted by Deloitte showed that 89% of CFOs now feel there is a high or very high level of uncertainty facing their business. The more finance teams apply technology to model different future scenarios, the better prepared and more confident they will be to quickly adapt their strategy to these uncertain outcomes. Planning based on assumptions is better than not planning enough, and technology can make this process seamless without weighing on anyone’s time. One of our retail customers, for example, is planning their recovery by using multiple pictures of their budget based on different assumptions, all sitting in the cloud platform, to avoid any version control issues that offline spreadsheets can bring up.

Continuous planning to avoid obsolete budgets

A survey conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals in 2019 revealed that the average annual budget takes 77 days to be prepared. Think back to where the world was 77 days ago to understand that this is simply not a sustainable process. Forward-thinking businesses no longer approach financial planning as a one-time annual or quarterly event. Episodic planning quickly becomes obsolete and wastes valuable time.

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By deploying a continuous active approach to planning, leaders are able to quickly adjust budgets adapting to any shift in the marketplace or change in the organisation — something fundamental in the current scenario. We have found that companies that implement continuous planning are 1.5 times more likely to be able to reforecast within just one week, a level of agility that helps businesses avoid budget freezes.

Rolling forecasts to roll with the punches

Rolling forecasts are just as important in the toolkit of agile finance planning. They are a strategic way to approach forecasts because they are guided by key business drivers. We’ve found from our customers that they can help accurately predict changes from four to eight quarters in advance. By being able to visualise a consistent horizon, finance leaders gain the confidence to make critical decisions. In addition, the rolling aspect of the forecasts offers an invaluable way to course-correct quickly.

To survive a time of escalating uncertainty, agility is a safe harbour for any organisation. By deploying continuous planning based on build-out scenarios and rolling forecasts throughout the recovery, leaders will be better equipped to make forward-looking decisions, and not only recover but do it with a competitive advantage. Ultimately, the changes in planning processes implemented during this crisis will prepare businesses for any future storms they might face.

 

The CFO role is one of few leadership positions in an organisation that has a unique vantage point across the entire business, and now more than ever, that platform must be used to help navigate the business through the uncertainty and emerge on a ‘sound footing’ from the global crisis.

Health, Safety & Communication

As a leader, the CFO has a duty of care to the well-being of their Finance teams, and in the current situation, having a heightened sense of empathy and understanding of personal challenges they may be facing at this time, is also essential.

The CFO’s leadership role in corporate Health and Safety does not stop there but should extend beyond functional boundaries, across the entire company - guiding and enabling the required frameworks and structures, whether this is financing, policy advice, resources etc. to help ensure employee safety needs are securely met in times of crisis.

Communication will be the lifeblood of the organisation - internal and external. From the customer base to suppliers and supply chains, through to unions, banks/finance houses, etc. - all stakeholders need to be kept informed, and the CFO can help conduct and support those discussions and/or negotiations.

Leadership & Governance

At this time, a ‘wait-and-see’ strategy may not be an optimal choice. This is time for leadership and action and the tone ‘from the top’ must instil a sense of urgency in this crisis.

The need for strong governance, clear leadership and effective decision making, underpinned with reliable, fact-based financial and business performance information is greater now than ever before.

A challenge for the CFO will be to ensure that corporate and management reporting structures continue to operate effectively to meet these needs.

While dealing with changes in ways of working and disruption to normal data flows, CFOs should also consider how processes can be adapted and redeveloped with mitigating measures to ensure the robustness of the control environment: What changes are needed to ensure underlying accounting records are complete and accurate? What risk management and mitigating actions are required?

While a focus on day-to-day issues is paramount, planning and assessing alternative scenarios to take the company through and beyond the crisis is also a key priority.

At the corporate side of the finance agenda, for many CFOs, year-end corporate reporting will require immediate attention and where possible, they should avail of extended reporting deadlines for filings. Some CFOs will have to address, not least: How to deal with forward-looking statements and estimates? How best to determine principal risks and uncertainties? Challenges of ‘going concern’ assessments; and will boards be confident in stating that they have a ‘reasonable expectation’ of a company’s viability?

Response to the current and evolving challenges can be viewed over four key time-framed phases:

Survival and Preservation

Immediate

At the time of writing, many companies will have taken steps to respond to the immediate crisis through a combination of their own actions and those imposed by government. The phrase ‘Cash is King’ has never been more relevant and organisations as a whole, spearheaded by the CFO will need to switch to a cash mindset. Cash reserves (restricted and available) need to be determined, immediate liquidity requirements quantified and measures put in place to preserve cash. In some cases, sources and accessibility to available credit should be identified.

As cash-inflow from customer/client receivables grinds to a halt, optimising and prioritising cash outflows must be managed carefully.

Planning ahead, determining what is discretionary and what is critical, Capex and Opex alike, product line by product line, by division, by geography across all company functions will help cut the cash burn and ‘shore-up’ what may now be a depleting balance sheet.

Urgency and pace in a controlled and focused manner must be prevalent throughout the company.  Swift, decisive, yet flexible actions from the CFO - pre-emptive and reactive –  are required to address the ever-evolving situation.

The need for strong governance, clear leadership and effective decision making, underpinned with reliable, fact-based financial and business performance information is greater now than ever before.

Stabilisation and Scenario Planning

Near-term

With immediate steps taken, the CFO can shift attention to stabilising the ongoing business and keep the momentum of the organisation functioning through the extended lockdown.

Strengthening focus on the company’s liquidity position, by implementing additional measures such as 13-week cash-flow forecasts, mandates to reduce spending and freeze on discretionary projects can all help optimise net working capital and shorten cash-conversion cycle times.

Monitoring operational activity and tailoring responsive measures as economic challenges evolve will also contribute to balancing financial resources.

While a focus on day-to-day issues is paramount, planning and assessing alternative scenarios to take the company through and beyond the crisis will be a key priority for the CFO.

Baselining the scenarios to reflect any existing underperformance or financial and/or operational challenges, including those issues that may have been exacerbated by the crisis, will provide a sound starting position for planning.

Evolving the scenario modelling process, capturing changes in consumer trends and as new economic options emerge, companies can identify those most cost-effective, sustainable, or achievable – depending on priorities and constraints – near-term and into the future.

Stress testing, developing contingency plans and comparing best and worst-case alternatives are all aspects of the planning process. The goal of scenario planning now is not about determining the future with precision, but rather assessing a range of alternative strategies and their viability.

With scenarios in place CFOs and boards can use these to evaluate outcomes, risks, uncertainties and opportunities and as a mechanism to steer the business through the challenges that lie ahead.

Rebuild  & Rightsize

Intermediate

Looking beyond the crisis, management has a responsibility to consider the necessary steps to maintain/create a sustainable business for the future (for its employees, investors and all stakeholders) which may also require making some tough choices. CFOs will play a key part in the strategic setting, determining and assessing the ‘rebuild and rightsizing’ of the business for the longer-term.

For some, this may require a deep transformational change, encompassing the entire business strategy, restructuring organisations, delaying and deferring investments, scaling back on resources, amending capital structures, adopting a radical change to operating plans and operating models - all with the aim of putting the business on a sound footing to emerge from the crisis.

Recovery

Longer-term

Timing, sequence, and pace of economic recovery is still unknown and will vary by country, sector, industry and company. However, those CFOs and boards that have considered and prepared for recovery will have developed a more informed outlook on the future and a stronger starting position once the global economy begins to recover.

CFOs can influence and guide that corporate recovery: this may be through M&A opportunities, a reappraisal of capital investments or enabling businesses to seek out new and innovative ways to boost growth and productivity.

Although a forward-looking perspective is essential, the rapid onset of the economic shock may have exposed many companies’ underlying weaknesses.

As CFOs and boards now look to the future, this may also be a time to balance opportunity with lessons learned and for management to consider placing a greater degree of emphasis on the company’s longer-term resilience to withstand future shocks or economic downturns.

New ‘Normal’

While the future cannot be predicted with a high degree of certainty, the ripple-effect of the economic shock across some sectors (e.g. tourism, hospitality, airlines) may have longer-lasting financial and operational consequences.

In the long-run, CFOs, boards and companies that move nimbly to reimagine the future, remain flexible to innovate and adapt, have the ability and capabilities to reposition the company strategies and reconfigure its operating model to meet the needs of an evolving economic environment will be better positioned to make it through to a brighter economic landscape.

The number of employees working from home has drastically increased over the past two months, and employers are starting to realise the benefits. In fact, 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote working permanently, according to Gartner. Allowing employees to work from home was previously used as a method to reduce overheads and as an employee incentive to reduce staff turnover.

Now, however, working from home has become the new normal, and as the workforce becomes increasingly disparate geographically, cybersecurity needs to be higher up on the executive agenda. Organisations need to have the appropriate cybersecurity measures to empower employees to work remotely, whether it be from home, in an office, or on the move. CFOs have the ability to facilitate a conversation with CIOs and CSOs to avoid incurring any additional costs from unnecessary IT help desks and data breach fines. Simon Biddiscombe, CEO of MobileIron, outlines the risks of remote working and potential safeguards.

Productivity

Not only does increased working from home present organisations with a significant cybersecurity risk, it also has the potential to limit productivity. The Office of Budgetary Responsibility has estimated that the financial services may see a 5% drop in productivity whilst enforced working from home policies are in place. CFOs need to carefully balance budgets to ensure productivity whilst maintaining the benefits of remote working.

Traditional cybersecurity principles are archaic and dangerous and threaten corporate resources. The on-premise perimeter has been decimated by a general shift to cloud applications and mobility, and the recent surge in remote working has only emphasised this shift. As more employees use personal devices and networks to access business applications, the line between business and personal data is becoming blurred.

CFOs need to carefully balance budgets to ensure productivity whilst maintaining the benefits of remote working.

Additionally, cybercriminals are already exploiting the relaxed security measures brought about by the sudden need for organisations to shift a large part of their workforce to teleworking, as shown by a Europol report. If a bad actor penetrates a device through a personal channel, what is to stop them from breaching a business application?

The Security Foundation

Organisations need to increase their governance over the devices being used to access corporate data. A unified endpoint management (UEM) platform allows IT teams to secure, manage and grant authorised users, devices and apps access to corporate resources and networks. UEM also provides visibility and insights into usage and patterns that IT can use to determine and enforce compliance. As financial services employees work from home, having this level of visibility over employees’ personal devices is just as important as having control over corporate devices if they are using business applications.

UEM separates the corporate digital workplace from personal activities on a device. This is done by containerising and protecting data and applications through application sandboxing. Device encryption can also be deployed so only authorised users can access crucial data. For instance, when banking staff return to work, a corporate scanning app can allow managers to scan a customer’s ID and passport with a smartphone camera.

Integrating threat detection management with a UEM platform allows for continuous enforcement and protection of data, both on the device and on the network. AI-based software constantly assesses the risk a device poses to a company’s ecosystem as a whole through its entire life cycle. Having this 24/7 capability allows IT teams to mitigate any threats should they arise, resulting in a more secure remote work experience and increased productivity.

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Scalable Solutions

Security systems should be reviewed to ensure that all networks, devices, and applications are verified before access to crucial business data is granted. As we look for COVID-19 exit strategies, there is a clear need for any cybersecurity solutions to be scalable to accommodate the fluctuating numbers of remote workers in the future.

The accessibility of UEM means it is a highly scalable solution. The enrolment process is as simple as downloading an application and updating a device. Additionally, employees can use a self-service portal to track, add, or remove devices they have under management. If the user needs to retire a device, unenrolment can be initiated immediately. In the event that a device becomes compromised, IT teams can wipe business related applications to remediate the threats. This ability to deprovision devices remotely and selectively delete data is critical for an end-to-end device life cycle management program.

SaaS Flexibility

In order to be as agile as possible and still meet businesses essential security requirements, UEM platforms are widely available on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.  A subscription-based SaaS model provides CFOs more flexibility in their payment structure as they are only required to pay for what they use instead of paying a large upfront cost for a fixed number of software licences.

A subscription offering of UEM generally gives CFOs a better return on investment. Maintenance and support are usually included in the service provided, making the need to purchase a separate maintenance and support contract redundant. Software updates are included in a subscription, helping organisations stay current with the latest capabilities and ahead of potential threats.

As we look to the future, one thing is clear: business solutions need to remain agile. COVID-19 has shone a light on the need for agility when it comes to the enterprise cybersecurity, and CFOs should embrace these solutions.”

Around a third of Americans are currently working from home in order to help prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, while not physically in the office, keeping track of things such as employee time can prove to be quite a challenge. From payroll to efficiency, modern business technology might be able to help. With that said, here’s how the utilisation of time tracking software can be useful, especially when it comes to a business's financial aspects.

What is time tracking software?

Time tracking software is a computer software that allows businesses to accurately keep track of an employee’s time that’s spent on projects. Many industries utilise this type of software, as it proves to be especially useful for those who work in the freelancing industry and for those who bill their clients by the hour. Not only can this eliminate paperwork and physical means of timekeeping, such as spreadsheets or paper, but some time tracking software allows you to enter both time on and time off of work, along with expenses on one interface. This not only reduces stress for business owners and employees alike, but it is extremely convenient to use as well.

In the new age of the COVID-19 pandemic where working from home has become the norm, time tracking software can become even more valuable. For example, it can become difficult to track employee time when the employees are working from remote locations, though time tracking software can become a solution to that issue as it allows for full transparency. Not only that, but it can help greatly when it comes to keeping track of worker productivity, motivation, and increasing efficiency within the business as a whole - though there’s more to it than that, and especially so though a financial standpoint.

In the new age of the COVID-19 pandemic where working from home has become the norm, time tracking software can become even more valuable.

Saving money and cutting costs

One of the greatest benefits of utilising time tracking software is the fact that it can save businesses money in a number of different ways. By seeing where employees specifically spend their time, companies can save when it comes to payroll, by accurately paying employees for the work they do — thus working to effectively cut out any guesswork on the employee or employer by creating far less work in the payroll department.

This also allows for clients to be billed for the exact amount of time spent on a project, which can benefit the client and create clarity when it comes to billing, and can also act as proof that they didn’t get overcharged. Unsurprisingly, this can help result in a more satisfied customer, improving relationships between the business and consumer. Time tracking software can cut costs in other ways as well. For instance, many kinds of software can be integrated with a businesses existing payroll or accounting system. By doing so, implementing the software can not only be convenient, but time and costs can both be reduced in the process.

Gaining valuable insight

Time tracking software also brings the benefit of bringing valuable insight to businesses, by allowing them to view the software analytics. Since time tracking software allows businesses to see exactly how workers spend their time, adjusting their pricing models accordingly can become much easier and even save time. Time tracking software can also be beneficial in planning and budgeting, too - for instance, consulting with the analytics from the time tracking software can give business owners a general overview that can help decide how they should go about certain affairs, as they can see how much time it takes to complete certain tasks.

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Maximum efficiency

For many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty, especially when it comes to finances. While working from home is becoming the new norm for now, 74% of CFOs and business finance leaders expect that at least 5% of their workforce will actually continue to work from home permanently — even after the pandemic is over. With that in mind, time tracking software can help to seamlessly maximise efficiency and help to create a sort of certainty in the process, whether it be short or long term.

For example, by reporting exactly how an employee’s time is spent, you can see which employees are truly contributing to the team, of which can save money in the long run should you determine an employee to be extremely unproductive by letting them go. While the efficiency gained from time tracking software can seem quite beneficial for managers and business owners alike, employees can also take advantage of this feature by viewing their progress and learning from it on how they can be more productive in the future.

For many businesses that have chosen to operate online by having their employees work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, time tracking software can prove to be a real asset, especially with the benefits that it can bring financially. From saving money to providing valuable insights that can help with pricing and budgeting, time tracking software can bring a myriad of benefits to those who choose to implement it, and can introduce businesses to a helpful tool that may be able to help them even after the pandemic ends.

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