December 13, 2021

What the acceleration of digitisation means for FP&A professionals

The acceleration of digitisation is here and the office of finance can no longer afford to ignore transformation any longer. Those who do not have a transformation plan in place, risk falling behind their competition.

Now more than ever, finance need to improve business agility and create an environment that fosters improved performance and productivity. The digitisation of the finance function has the potential to automate manual processes, improving speed and accuracy if delivered successfully. It also offers the opportunity to reduce costs, improve visibility to business insights and simplify complex and long processing times.

Finance does not need to fear digitisation, it will provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. It brings with it the opportunity for CFOs and FP&A managers to be at the centre of digital transformation efforts. They can do this by providing real-time, data-enabled decisions – creating greater value for the business.

The acceleration of digitisation will require a ‘development’ of staff skill set

Let us address the elephant in the room. Digitisation of the finance function will require new skills; however, it is more a development of an existing skills set, rather than a complete change.

Automation technology will perform redundant tasks on a timed basis and ensure their completion, quickly, efficiently and with an increased level of accuracy. There will no longer be a need for finance to manually compile data and reports, nor maintain unreliable spreadsheets. Automation will give the FP&A Professional time to focus their efforts on better understanding business drivers, evaluating opportunities and risks, and producing solutions to business problems using available data. As a result, the FP&A professional of tomorrow will need advanced analytical skills, critical thinking and intellectual curiosity. They will need to learn to remove potential biases, and focus on the insights that data is providing.

An emerging skillset for finance professionals is ‘inspiring communication,’ more specifically, data storytelling. Data storytelling is presenting information in a way that end-users can easily digest. It highlights the most important business insights and conveys numerical analysis in a context that allows the business to make value-added decisions. In fact, the art of storytelling is now considered one the emerging critical roles for FP&A professionals.

The acceleration of digitisation will change the position of finance professionals within their organisation.

One of the most exciting developments of digital transformation is that it will change the position of the finance professional in the organisation. Finance will be less ‘back-office,’ and instead be positioned to lead and drive business efforts.

Finance will be in the unique position that they will be able to elevate the value of data across the whole organisation. By providing access to ‘real-time’ data, they will give end users the ability to make informed decisions based on up-to-date, accurate results. Staff can use data visualisation tools to ‘self-service,’ instead of relying on finance to deliver reports. Access to fast analytics and reporting will elevate the value and reliance on data across the whole organisation. Finance professionals are in the position to provide this critical function to the rest of the business.

Advanced technology and analytics will increase staff satisfaction

Believe it or not, despite initial resistance to technology, advanced analytical tools and accelerated digitisation will improve staff satisfaction.

Automation replaces repetitive, manual tasks. FP&A professionals take pride in their skills and education. Automation of redundant tasks that are light-years away from the job they are qualified for can allow finance professionals to focus on strategic work efforts.

Similarly, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and machine learning algorithms will help synthesise large volumes of data, quickly and accurately. Fit-for-purpose technology will streamline user experience and will result in happier and more productive employees.

Ultimately, digital enablement will help fuel innovation in the office of finance, and it will empower finance professionals and give them greater job satisfaction.

FP&A professionals do not need to fear digital acceleration. In fact, digitisation will bring the opportunity for finance to develop their advanced skillset, reposition themselves within the organisation, and feel better about their work performance.

Digitisation is coming and those that are going to succeed are the Finance Professionals who seek change and adapt quickly.

We are a management consultancy laser focused on business transformation. We help CFOs & FP&A teams with budgeting, forecasting, and planning and Data & Analytics professionals deploy high performing digital ecosystems. Our goal is to give you more time and resources to focus on profitable business growth and data driven insights.


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