Tech-savvy CFOs make decisions today that set their company up for whatever the future brings.
People talk a lot these days about the speed in which the business landscape changes, and how companies need to be nimble or agile—able to quickly adjust tactics to take advantage of changes in the marketplace, and to stay ahead of the competition. From the CFO’s perspective, what underpins the ability to change, to grow, and to be prepared for an increasingly uncertain future? Generally, the answer lies somewhere in people, processes, and technology. For this post, I’d like to focus on the technology and how it can drive agility, scalability, and future-proofing.
What does it mean to be agile? Some examples of agility are the ability to quickly implement a new product, promotion, or pricing structure. CFOs and CEOs need access to real-time information to make quick decisions about what’s working and, more importantly, what isn’t. This information needs to come from the financial system, as well as other operational systems, and it can’t be from last month—it needs to be a picture of what’s happening now. If the CFO has access to real-time, accurate, and comprehensive data about the business, they become a strategist and are then enabled to work with other executives to make key decisions.
Once a decision is made, an agile business can quickly implement change. Using a SaaS model, solutions can be configured and re-configured with clicks, not code, and software can easily integrate with other best-in-class business systems. As a result, new products and processes can be rolled out from end to end, across all business systems with little to no disruption and no IT investment.
This configurability also allows the quick provisioning of new users, additional business entities, and new modules without massive spending on consultants and developers, allowing businesses to grow and scale. The tech-savvy CFO will also understand how SaaS financial tools can scale because of characteristics inherent to the SaaS delivery model: sharing one code base across all customers, using resource pooling and elasticity to manage enormous numbers of transactions, and managing performance, security, and availability using a sophisticated infrastructure across all users. The tech-savvy CFO never needs to worry about how IT will scale their servers or upgrade their data centers to manage fast growth or large increases in users and transactions.
Once a business can react quickly based on real-time financial and operational data, the tech-savvy CFO should next look to “future-proof” the business systems and processes. How does one safeguard against changes in regulations, accepted management techniques, or other systems that integrate with the ERP system? Again, the SaaS model provides the answer. SaaS solutions can push new functionality at once—to the entire user base. As an example, when the Revenue Recognition rules change in the coming years, you’ll want to be using a cloud-based ERP solution that can automatically push out those changes—with no development, testing, downtime, or cost required to you.
When today’s CFO looks to integrate finance and accounting with other functional groups, he or she should make sure the business is running an ERP system that plays well with others. Today’s ERP and accounting systems must be built with open APIs to integrate seamlessly with other best-in-class products, and should have native and future-proofed integrations with the other big players in the SaaS space, like Saleforce.com. A tight integration with a CRM solution provides additional functionality that streamlines the quote-to-cash cycle, and allows collaboration across both systems and between members of the sales and finance teams.
With a modern cloud-based ERP system, today’s tech-savvy CFO can become a strategist—a true player in the growth and success of the business. When moving to a new ERP solution, whether you’ve outgrown QuickBooks or are moving from an on-premises system to the cloud, make sure you choose a system that provides the agility, scalability, and future-proofing your business needs.