For today’s CFOs, IT is where it’s at. Finance and technology have become so intertwined that CFOs need to be almost as savvy about bits and bytes as they are about facts and figures. The term “digital CFO” has crept up in recent years, a sign that finance executives need to get their technology game on if they want to be a force for growth and remain relevant.
As one senior finance executive put it, “Finance is IT. They are no longer separate items. Without IT, you can’t do finance.”
In a CFO Research survey, 93% of respondents said they believe that future CFOs will need a much stronger technology skill set than is now required to do the job, and 64% have taken specific actions to boost their technology skills.
Why the focus on becoming more technology-literate? It’s simple. Senior finance executives believe their organization’s IT strategy is essential to its growth strategy. More than ever, CFOs are the becoming a facilitator for driving their company forward. Jack McCollough, founder and chief executive of the CFO Leadership Council, said, “Be a CF-GO, not a CF-NO. You want to be involved in making it happen, not putting on the brakes.”
Turns out, technology is already paying off for CFOs. An Accenture Strategy survey revealed that 82% of CFOs are seeing “measurable business ROI” from their digital financial investments. And finance organizations are adopting a wide variety of digital technologies—from mobile and cloud computing to artificial intelligence and robot process communication, according to the survey.
Despite the popularity of finance technology, CFOs have a love-hate relationship with IT. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, often deployed in the cloud, are popular—to a point. Respondents in the CFO Research survey identified five key areas that needed the most improvement in their ERP system:
- Reporting and display
- Ease of customization
- Integration with other systems
- Ease of implementation
- User friendliness
What’s more, CFOs are being asked to oversee the IT function, such as with the CIO reporting directly to them. This means, at some level, they’re taking ownership of the sometimes-problematic ERP system for their organization. For these CFOs, survey respondents freely dispensed advice, which included:
- “Keep it as ‘vanilla’ as possible. Customization leads to increased cost of ownership as upgrades are needed.”
- “Don’t adapt your reporting to the system. Find a system that works with your reporting.”
- “Ensure that all existing systems are using full capabilities before adding more systems. Do not let systems be added in silos, to support siloed teams.”
- “Use the cloud and keep it simple.”
When you’re adopting an ERP system or other form of finance technology, there’s even simpler and more sage advice to follow: Don’t go it alone. Find a business technology partner that will work with you for the long haul, to help you with the big implementation projects and address the smaller issues that inevitably arise.
At Trustantial, we build substantial relationships with our clients based on trust—a long-term, sustainable commitment to their success. If you’re looking for a partner who can help you make the leap to digital CFO, give us a call. We’d love to help