Flexibility is vital in any business, and no more so than in the current economic and political world, we live in. For the first time outside wartime, companies have had to close overnight and try to continue to operate with reduced staff, remote working, dramatically changing customer requirements and supply chain challenges.
The finance function has its challenges too. As an example, in a recent report, by ACCA global over 50% of respondents to a survey didn’t expect change to impact them (this was before the coronavirus pandemic!)
Businesses need to be careful that this complacency doesn’t restrain a company. It clear that many of the core elements of the finance function could be outsourced if the core function is seen as compliance from a reporting and regulatory perspective.
As part of the research, six hypotheses were created to try and understand how finance teams looked at changes in their industry and job roles/careers.
These were as follows:
- Trusted data will be open and accessible across the organisation
- Accessible, trusted data will drive real-time, customer-centric decision making
- Finance teams will spend all of their time generating insights
- Traditional finance roles will disappear. New roles, skills and career paths will be needed
- The Finance ‘function’ will be virtual
- CFO role will no longer exist – to be replaced by roles such as COO and CSO
When these hypothesis were presented to financial team leaders the results were as follows:
From the results of the research, two clear groups appeared. These termed ‘the believers’ and those who see change will happen but not as quick as some people expect and the ‘non-believers’ who do not consider that significant change is likely.
When this data was looked at in more depth, it’s clear that the more conservative responders came from countries such as the UK and Ireland whereas emerging economies such as China and Asia believed in change.
This leads to the conclusion that change needs to be driven by changes in the mindset of finance leaders other businesses will get left behind by younger, more dynamic organisations as well as international competitors.
The impact of the cloud
Businesses are changing in the way in which they consider business applications. With the growth in cloud-based applications, companies are becoming more comfortable with the concept of starting with a core application and then bringing in additional functionality. This typically begins with a core finance application such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Implementing cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems enable businesses to access the best in breed solutions. These solutions can be used to reflect the way in which is a company is run rather than trying to get a business to run the way the software determines.