Finance has much to gain from technology adoption
This crisis is forcing new ways of work onto companies, only some of which will remain once this is over. Especially in times of uncertainty and dramatic fluctuations of external business conditions, it is essential that organizations be able to identify risks and opportunities early and modify course.
Advanced analytics can play a huge role in helping organizations during this time. But the reality is that most finance functions are behind when it comes to technology adoption. This leaves them to their own devices, trying to think critically and do the best with what they have, instead of leveraging tools that offer immense value, especially now.
Those for whom the shift was already under way are benefitting- organizations that already invested in data management and integrated planning are seeing immediate benefits. Those that invested in a data-driven, integrated approach will be able to game out short and long-term scenarios and make quick decisions.
What about those that haven’t? Well, it’s not too late.
Beyond data creation to data analysis
According to the Harvard Business Review, the real return on digital transformation comes from embedding new work practices into the processes, work flows, and ultimately the culture of organizations.
Mike Prince, Director of UK Finance for the Royal Mail Group, is correct in his claim that “we have to generate new value propositions, some of which will completely swim against the tide and tread on the status quo.”
For finance, this means moving to a culture that puts value creation first. Behaviorally, this can mean changing engrained behaviours that slow the company down. This is where technology comes into play as it can radically shorten procedures such as the budgeting cycle, and automate entire processes. For example with Datarails, workers benefit from improved data preparation with automated data transformations including consolidations, FX conversions, eliminations, hierarchies, financial adjustments, and more.
Value-added finance begins with culture
For finance, cloud-based ERP, data analytics, data visualisation and collaboration tools allow for the generation of superior insights.
“I think the more informed finance departments out there have recognised that they don’t just need to produce the financial information more efficiently,” says PwC UK’s Mark O’Sullivan. “They have to show they can actually analyse, interpret and predict rather than just produce. They’re also starting to realise that they already have a lot of the thinking, systems, processes, and controls in place for the more important strategic information relating to their key resources and relationships, such as their customers, their employees, and their supply chain.”
PwC found that organisations who view these developments positively, rather than feeling threatened by the way they may impact the function and the roles played by those within it, have the greatest chance of being top performers in the long-term.
Advances in technology are paving the way for a stronger finance department, a change that requires cultural and behavioural shifts within the function. More importantly, it requires executives to actively get on board behind technology adoption initiatives.
Attitude shifts will determine success of implementation
The finance function cannot fulfill crucial business needs or implement a new, more effective and efficient operating model without deep, broad based cultural change. That involves changing and aligning behaviours, performance metrics, and incentives that embrace technology adoption across finance and the wider organisation.
More accurate and agile planning can play a major role in improving customer experience, making your organization more competitive, and supporting new business models. And in times like these, it can help organizations stay up to date on real-time figures and decide on best-course actions.
New technologies offer finance an incredible opportunity to better align with strategic goals, but it won’t happen effectively without first embracing digital adoption as a core facet of organizational culture. New technologies have tremendous value potential but often face resistance. For example, employees may be disenchanted by the idea of having to learn a new system.
And often, the most painful part is trying to drive corporate culture change with business leaders, who are so resistant to change.
There is a solution.
Resistance to change is something organizations can do something about. While entrenched reliance on old school methods and spreadsheet-based planning are hard to shake, tools such as Datarails allow employees to maintain current methods of work while simultaneously benefitting from a cloud-based planning platform that elevates the finance function tremendously.
What sets Datarails apart from other cloud-based planning platforms is its hallmark feature- the fact that it’s Excel-based, meaning employees continue to work on their native spreadsheets.It doesn’t change the way employees currently work and requires little to no organizational culture change. Datarails is an adaptive tool that brings much needed agility and flexibility to financial management, particularly during these turbulent times.
Datarails automates any data preparation process (like consolidations, FX conversions, eliminations, drill-downs and variance analyses), allows employees to benefit from one version of the truth and comprehensive, error-free numbers. It provides access to up-to-date operating expense, allowing for strategic planning and allocation of future expenditures based on real-time numbers consolidated from disparate organizational systems. While work processes are enhanced significantly, you and your employees won’t feel a thing.
Unlike other platforms on the market Datarails is not a rigid system- you don’t have to change the way you work in order to make it work.
Embrace digitization when you most need it.
With Datarails, finance professionals can access and leverage financial and operational data independently, regardless of technical competency. This means the finance team can easily support planning, analysis and reporting needs on-the-go to drive faster and more effective decisions.
With Datarails, end-users keep using Excel while executives benefit from superior access to data and novel insights. Without imposing much procedural change on employees, finance executives can quickly and easily get behind digital transformation when they need it most. It’s not too late.
Datarails is developing a business augmented intelligence platform for the corporate finance function. Our FP&A solution allows for the connection and centralization of all organizational financial data from various systems (ERP, GL, CRM) alongside Excel spreadsheets and operational data. It also allows for the creation of automated financial reports (P&L, cash-flow, budgets, etc.), as well as thorough analysis of consolidated data for the creation of business and financial insights.