How finance can ditch low-value, manual tasks, and elevate their value across the business
Finance teams are under increasing pressure from Boards and Management to provide greater analysis and scenario modelling to the business. Yet with low-value, manual tasks dominating the day-to-day lives of many FP&A professionals, finding time to work on performance enhancing activities can be difficult.

CFOs need to take the reins and support this transition by providing the right technology, inspiring leadership and instilling a change of mindset across the organisation. Only then can they shift the perception that finance operates as a cost centre, and instead be recognised for the great contributions they make towards business growth and revenue generation.

One of the most common complaints we receive from FP&A teams is the amount of time and resource they are spending on month-end reporting. For them, it is a perpetual cycle that involves the preparation and validation of multiple disparate data sets. Although a critical business task, many teams are delivering reports mid-month, an issue that diminishes its value, as well as negatively impacts the perception of the finance team.

If you and your team are experiencing this dilemma, it is important you find technology that supports the work that you do. Begin by automating manual activities, such as data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL). By automating this task, you create a data environment that is “analysis-ready” and reduce the significant manual intervention and workload that is required. Automation of transactional work frees up resources to add business value and lets employees take a more strategic approach towards their work.

Aside from time efficiencies, automation also improves the consistency and accuracy of your reports. By removing the risk of human error, you also help to build the organisations trust in your team and their deliverables. The time efficiencies and process improvements you experience, will give you the opportunity to redirect your team to work on higher-value outputs, such as the interpretation of data into insights. The next step is to make sure your achievements are recognised and the best way to do this is to encourage your team to communicate these insights to business leaders. In doing so, you deliver a true finance business partnering model which connects business units and facilitates operational execution.

When we talk about creating greater value, we need to touch on the topic of predictive analytics.  Finance teams across Australia are using predictive analytics to varying degrees, and it can be a powerful tool to derive value from data by determining patterns and predicting future outcomes.

Jedox’s AIssisted planning tool provides businesses with a competitive edge when it comes to forecasting and planning. Predictive forecasts can be used to minimise risks in decision making, as well as enrich available and existing data sets for fact-based decision making. This comprehensive data-driven approach can support corporate planning as well as extend greater influence across the business.

Once again it is an example of how technology can be used to free-up time so that your team can focus on problem-solving capabilities and tap into unused potential, maximising their efficiency and value. Remember, not all technology is created equal and it’s important to choose the right technology and implementation partner who can deliver on their original promise.

However, technology and successful digital transformation can only succeed when there is human transformation. This does not just refer to the adoption or acceptance of technology, but rather technology should help fuel innovation and change the way finance professionals think about their role and responsibilities within the business.

It is important for finance leaders to encourage their teams to become more commercially aware and look at how they can help deliver sustainable growth to the business – as opposed to the ‘cost-cutting’ incentives traditional finance teams employ.

Lastly, it is not just the finance team that needs to ‘think outside the box’ and change their patterns and processes. The wider business needs to understand and prioritise strategic objectives over their own. Adopting technology that has user-friendly features and allows for easy analysis of data can help managers around the business ‘self-service’ those ‘non-critical’ reports and tasks.

If you are finding it difficult to demonstrate the finance teams’ value or are concerned about the adoption of technology in your organisation, why not contact us at Minerva Partners?

We are a Management Consultancy that is laser focussed on business transformation, and we assist CFOs and transformation specialists every day to improve their data management, budgeting, forecasting, and planning, allowing them more time to focus on business growth and strategy.

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