Sustainable growth through better financial databy
As a business grows its finance system becomes a barrier to growth and the need to get better visibility of data becomes more important, a recent AccountingWEB webinar concluded.
“For many businesses, their finance system can be a barrier to growth. Getting the insights you need to make successful business decisions is time-consuming and difficult. In today’s climate as access to cheap money becomes harder, boards need to be able to really focus on where to invest and where they will get the most value for money,” said Darren Cran, the chief operating officer at AccountsIQ, about the challenges facing businesses as they grow.
“This means being able to measure the ROI of different functions in your business as well as being able to find profitable markets and identify your most profitable clients.”
Challenges facing businesses
Over the past decade, accountants and businesses of all sizes have seen the benefits that cloud accounting can bring, but eventually the size and complexity of a business can mean the business actually outgrows the software.
Many of the main cloud players have limits around multiple entities, transaction counts and reporting, meaning that as the business grows and becomes more complex the systems themselves start to creak at the seams.
Meanwhile, high-growth businesses also face other challenges – such as needing multiple corporate entities, or they may be trading overseas, producing a new type of asset or dealing with tens of thousands of transactions a month – and getting information from multiple business systems can be difficult.
Finance teams also need to be able to consolidate and report across complex entities and have really good multi-currency solutions if trading internationally. Without the right tools to access this data, insight-driven decision-making can be difficult.
Connecting up the data leads to better decisions
As all these challenges demonstrate, finance teams must be at the heart of growing businesses. They will need to transform and automate where possible but also work with areas across the business to help them digitise and truly understand their contribution to the wider company.
There will be an expectation that the different parts of your business are financially literate, so the finance team should be digitising itself and then helping to digitise the entire lifecycle of your business.
It’s a topic that was covered in a recent webinar where AccountingWEB editor Richard Hattersley was joined by both Cran and Matthew Cooke, a business transformation consultant, to look at how to build a finance function that’s fit for the future.
Businesses need to show their green credentials
One question that is tackled in the webinar is how to ensure that business growth is sustainable, both in terms of the capital needed to fund it and importantly also in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.
In a 2020 Reith Lecture, the former governor of the Bank of England, Dr Mark Carney said: “Climate risks will ultimately affect every sector of the economy – that means that the financial system cannot diversify out of them. Indeed, we won’t have a financial system if we don’t have a planet.”
Speaking to AccountingWEB, Cran expanded on this point: “If in ten years’ time you haven’t got a sustainable business model you won’t be in business.”
Being able to model different options for the business and show the impact of different choices will be key for businesses as they grow. This will rely on being able to get access to key data from multiple sources across a business or charity and tell a story with that data that can help the leaders of the organisation plot a successful, and greener future.
Cran explained: “At AccountsIQ our product strategy is based on three core issues: efficiency, collaboration and insight. Our goal is to understand the tasks people need to do – consider the whole workflow, making it easier to get data into the finance system to be able to see what are the pain points for their cohort of customers.
“AccountsIQ is excellent for visualising trends in information. It can capture other business information (BI) not just traditional accounting and bookkeeping data for better, more meaningful departmental analysis. It allows a business to move beyond simple compliance and really understand their business and plan for the future.”
Transforming the finance function to drive forward
In order to be able to deliver the support and insights that a successful business needs, now and in the future, finance teams will need more than just technology. Cooke explained: “Going from a transactional function to one that partners with different business areas, leveraging IT technology, automating and standardising processes, the finance teams need new skills as well as new tools.”
Cooke suggested that this meant turning the traditional finance team structure upside down, and upskilling your team to be able to truly partner with the different areas that make up the organisation, including sales, marketing, operations and product development, and making sure that everyone can understand the numbers and make informed decisions.
“Partnering with all areas of the business means being able to work with people, making use of the best collaboration tools and aiming to be a world-class support function,” Cooke continued.
“This means that finance leaders need to look beyond just the tech and invest in the skills of their team, either through training or recruiting to ensure they can deliver what the business needs. The closer the finance team can get to the business the better, both to get the right data, explain numbers, ask the right questions, analyse and interpret the data, and help make better decisions.”
See how AccountsIQ’s scalable cloud accounting software can help forward-thinking finance teams by bringing you the systems and data required for evidence-based decision-making. Find out more about AccountsIQ.
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