When it comes to launching digital transformation initiatives to keep an organization competitive, Finance leaders like you are being counted on to be the sparkplug.
The majority of CFOs and Controllers (92%) surveyed in the latest Digital Controller/CFO benchmark study by Controller’s Council said they manage their organization’s Finance and Accounting (F&A) technology and 61% manage budgeting/spending approval for all tech at their companies.
The study also found that almost 70% of Finance managers are being asked by their companies to take an active role in F&A digital transformation, and 58% are taking on a greater level of responsibility by supervising it. Factors driving your peers to become even more involved in their firm’s F&A tech strategy to adopt new or refined processes and procedures are:
- Quick pivots to support remote and hybrid work environments brought on by the pandemic that require new tech in back-office systems
- Finance staff shortages from the Great Resignation which are making it necessary to adopt automation fintech to take over manual and repetitive tasks, and
- Business challenges related to inflation, fears of recession and supply chain disruption caused by geopolitical instability. Tech solutions on the market can provide real-time, actionable data insights to help drive strategic business decisions.
The state of F&A digital transformation
Automation projects are becoming a priority in digital transformation. According to the Controller’s Council study, the top F&A systems being automated are:
- Purchasing, A/P and expense management, 94%
- Accounting, bookkeeping and ERP solutions, 93%
- Billing, A/R and contracts, 44%
- Financial corporate performance management, including journal entries, financial close and reconciliations, 33%
- Business intelligence and analytics, 30%
- Financial planning and analysis, 27%
- Tax systems/software, 14%
- Statutory reporting, 12%
- Audit and compliance systems, 10%, and
- Other, 5%.
And here’s a breakdown of what kinds of F&A automation solutions your peers are planning to use or are evaluating for the future:
- Accounting, bookkeeping and ERP, 34%
- Purchasing, A/P and expense management, 31%
- Business intelligence and analytics, 31%
- Financial planning and analysis, 29%
- Financial corporate performance management, 18%
- Billing, A/R and contracts, 17%
- Audit and compliance systems, 11%, and
- Tax systems/software, 10%.
At the conclusion of the report, David Woodall, director of strategic marketing, record to report, and finance operations advisory at accounting software company Trintech, said, “Controllers and CFOs are still interested in evaluating or implementing new F&A systems and software despite the challenges that they are facing, understanding that these technologies are the only way they can continue to streamline the workflow to get the work done and provide meaningful work opportunities that are essential in retaining or recruiting today’s top talent.”
According to a separate study by StrategicCFO360 and accounting software provider Vic.Ai, eight out of 10 CFOs say that automation is crucial for optimizing their finance processes and getting key insights from financial data. And 61% said automation would likely have significant value for their organization.
Over 40% expect to complete their Finance digital transformation projects within the next two years.
For more information on automating Finance functions, check out the free ResourcefulFinancePro webinar “How to Build the Finance Team of the Future.”
Non-finance digital transformation
Because you and your peers have the skills to drive tech ROI, and tend to keep a holistic perspective of your companies, CFOs and Controllers are also ideal candidates to lead larger organizational digital transformation efforts outside of F&A.
There are signs more CFOs and Controllers are taking on these comprehensive technology responsibilities at their respective organizations in collaboration with their IT departments, including adding artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation and/or internet of things tools to their corporate tech toolbox.
In fact, a majority of the Controller’s Council study participants (69%) indicated their tech roles are expanding, with:
- 46% participating in IT operations
- 28% supervising their IT departments
- 35% participating in corporate digital transformation initiatives, and
- 14% supervising corporate digital transformation.
So what are the non-Finance tech areas that your peers are spending money on? Here are the most popular corporate systems and software being implemented or planned by companies:
- Cybersecurity, 38%
- Cloud platforms, 37%
- Data storage, 32%
- Customer relationship management and marketing automation, 31%
- Project management, 29%
- E-commerce, 14%, and
- Collaboration, 9%.
Adapting to something new
Expect some hiccups with digital transformation. To overcome any challenges with integrating new technology into your current systems and ensure ROI, it’s vital to:
- Figure out your top automation priorities
- Identify all the options available on the market in your price range, looking at vendors large and small
- Review solutions based on your company’s specific objectives, asking each vendor for examples of relevant use cases if available
- Make sure each solution can integrate well with your existing tech and processes during the transition
- Look into any investments you need to make to prepare employees for the new tech, including training – or even bringing on tech-savvy new hires to help with the transition, and
- Create a change management strategy, which will help the inevitable holdouts come around and adjust to using the new tech more quickly.