The cloud is increasingly being seen as a necessity for all departments of a business, and there’s one department it’s really transforming – finance. The cloud is unshackling finance teams from repetitive tasks, helping them to save time and to lead digital transformation. Finance chiefs (such as financial controllers and CFOs) are seeing their roles transformed as a result.
It’s enabled the CFO to become the ‘connected CFO’, who is now in prime position to provide the rest of the board with meaningful and insightful data analysis (and act as a key adviser to the CEO or business owner). In doing so, they are elevating their own position on the board, helping to create a more collaborative and informed C-suite, as well as a more connected business. They’re a strategic business partner to the CEO and someone who they can use as a sounding board.
If your finance function is yet to be disrupted, it won’t be long. The first step is understanding how the cloud can enable your business to reimagine its finance function.
The overarching benefit of the cloud is that it gives visibility and control into key business processes, which, with the turbulent times seen over the past year or so, can help finance teams track and manage spend more effectively in an ever-changing business landscape.
More specifically, it can reduce data input and improve reporting accuracy with automatic ledger updates, whilst enabling users to conduct detailed financial analyses. The cloud can give visibility across the entire business in order to refine strategies and reduce operational costs (also providing a single version of the truth). This addresses the painful issue of disconnectedness between departments.
This financial analysis is delivered in real-time and with easy access from any location (at any time too). It helps users to instantly store and share financial information across multiple devices and platforms, reducing the reliance on spreadsheets and other systems.
But, for the cloud to succeed in any finance function, there must be willing and capable people behind it. Focusing purely on technology is a misconception with regards to ensuring true digital transformation. Successful cloud adoption requires a change in culture, structure and processes. To be fully digital, CFOs need to ensure they are rethinking and refreshing their existing business models, but also the people they hire and the way they train them.
The cloud can positively impact finance teams by driving productivity and allowing them to be more influential in both strategy and decision making. Whatever their role in finance, staff should be encouraged to use the cloud to make their jobs easier. For example, creating reports that draw from connected and real-time data, generating useful insight.
However, it’s important that organisations don’t get carried away with making digital technology changes just for the sake of it. Adopting a cloud-first strategy is paramount, as is recognising that digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. It does not mean going from one state to another in a single project. It’s more about getting to a state where a company can continually adapt, as technology (and specifically the cloud) continues to evolve.
Shifting from paper to digital processes, using workflow software to prevent bottlenecks, and improving communication through cohesion, are just some of the ways businesses can make a digital transition successfully.
In addition, someone in the organisation must take responsibility for driving the cloud in every function within the business. As the purse holder in the business, this should fall to the CFO.
Ultimately, it’s no longer a question of if organisations should use the cloud, but when. The cloud offers an exciting and opportune time for the finance profession. Now’s a better time than ever for CFOs to rethink the role of their finance department and take the reins in digital transformation.
If you’re looking to be the driving force behind cloud adoption, and want to transform your finance team through enhanced processes and connected business functions, take a look at our Accounting Software.
*Article adapted from original piece published by Financial Director: https://www.financialdirector.co.uk/2018/05/02/the-dealbreakers-in-helping-finance-teams-go-digital/