In the next five years, most CFOs across the country will be applying the latest in process automation and other advanced technologies like RPA and AI to their finance function. The changes to the finance function, and the organization as a whole, will be dramatic.
On July 26th, the Argyle Group hosted the virtual event: How Finance Executives are Redefining the Future of Finance. The event featured important insights from CFOs who will be speaking at our inaugural CFO Live conference, a dynamic two-day event to be held in New York City on November 13th and 14th.
Here’s what we learned.
1. Through automation, the finance function has evolved from a monthly or quarterly data gatherer to a real time provider of insights and decision support to the business, shaping future strategy.
2. Finance remains the controller and the gatekeeper of financial data, but advanced automation has allowed finance teams to gain deeper knowledge of operations, other business functions, the potential for new business models, and new markets.
3. Traditionally, finance is the custodian of the ledger that was centrally located and tightly controlled. Today, through advanced technology, there’s a cultural shift to the democratization of data.
CFOs are looking to advanced automation technologies to:
- Shorten business process cycle time. i.e. issuing customer invoices; processing supplier invoices; processing receiving and returns documentation
- Increase efficiency in bank reconciliations
- Identify potential compliance matters such as changing regulatory requirements, and tax code changes
- Accelerate the collection and validation of information required by internal/external audit teams
- Automate the review of system files to support internal controls
- Collect data required for financial reporting
- Improve employee engagement and job satisfaction by eliminating repetitive and redundant processes
Next level technology and the role of the CFO
Redefining the future of finance will require visionary leadership, along with the understanding that automation is not “a nice to have”, but rather the hallmark of a world class finance function. A top-down automation culture is central to helping people see the value in embracing the change. Having an enterprise wide view of the company, finance executives are in a unique position to provide the tone at the top.
The finance function has a central role to play in creating an automation culture first by understanding the changes the company needs to achieve, and second, by being change agents working not only with finance teams, but with cross functional teams to help secure essential buy-in.
CFOs need to be interactive, to increasingly network, build relationships, and focus on the communication necessary to create the right culture for automation to succeed. They must also understand how business is conducted across the whole enterprise, and how a transaction happens from origin to completion. CFOs will be asking how can advanced technologies like Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence be applied in their company and what are the key benefits. These will include:
Must do automation check-list for CFOs:
Make sure there is a solid understanding of the underlying processes that you’re trying to automate.
Create opportunities for people to contribute to implementing advanced technologies like RPA and AI. It helps people see the value and the vision and what you’re driving towards, why it’s important, and how it can enrich their roles.
Build a good functional team that has experience in the processes and how they work, as well as a digital team or an IT team that is able to translate how the technology can improve upon or create new processes.
It’s not a one size fits all thing. There are multiple product offerings or digital solutions available today. Spend time understanding their business models in order to pick the right solution.
Further learning opportunities:
Specific examples of how CFOs have applied automation and tested advance technologies in their companies can be found in our new e-Book: How Finance Executives are Redefining the Future of Finance. We will be taking a deep dive into the evolving role of the CFO, and building the an automation culture at our inaugural CFO Live conference, a dynamic two-day event to be held in New York City on November 13th and 14th.
The event is made up of three tracks of thought-provoking talks and actionable insights from senior executives and technology disruptors who are redefining the future of finance. With over 50 speakers and 300 attendees, CFO Live New York is the premier learning and networking opportunity of the year for senior financial executives and technology service providers.