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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Brie

Post-Pandemic CFOs: Improve Your Business Insights via High Tech Integration

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

In recent years, CFOs have played increasingly significant roles in businesses-- their responsibilities expand to more than just number production. Organizations are increasingly relying on their finance teams to guide them through constant change, whether that’s in the face of global crises like COVID-19 or ongoing market shifts. The past year taught us the value of disaster preparedness – not only the necessity of business continuity plans, but nimbly responding to fast-changing conditions and adjusting financial forecasts on-the-fly.

Modern CFO responsibilities include:

  • Creation of more revenue streams

  • Management of total costs

  • Sharing insights across business functions

  • Advising the CEO

  • Improvement of risk and compliance

  • Increase of enterprise value

  • Integration of quality high tech resources (i.e. Financial Analytics Software) in the entire enterprise

One of the more notable developments in the CFO position are the efforts to successfully implement high tech resources in their organizations. This relatively new role played by CFOs has resulted in a variety of benefits, among the most significant being improvements in the insights their finance teams can extract from their data sets.

This past year, as finance departments scrambled to respond to the pandemic’s unprecedented impacts on businesses, they quickly learned they needed access to real-time data to make their decision-making more accurate and agile. Integrating an FP&A software allows finance professionals to access real time data, produce customizable visualizations, and use improved scenario analysis methods.

Integration Through Reskilling

Having taken the benefits of improved data insights into account, CFOs should understand how they should go about embracing new technologies. Many organizations have decided to re-hire their employees in response to the proliferation of high tech tools in recent years. However, reskilling the workforce has proved to be a superior strategy for the following reasons:

  1. It results in higher employee retention rates

  2. This strategy is more cost effective

  3. Higher profit growth is yielded

To illustrate the significance of some of these advantages: a Bersin by Deloitte study found that companies that invested more than their competitors in employee learning and development generated three times higher profit growth over several years.

CFOs play two specific roles in this reskilling of their workers:

  1. As leaders of the finance organization, they can demonstrate the value of reskilling their own finance talent. For example, in the past actuaries might analyze several variables in order to estimate a likely outcome. Today there is a general effort across the industry to leverage an exponential amount of data and variables using advanced technology tools. At the company Guardian, the chief actuary came up with the idea to reskill the experienced actuaries in computer coding and data mining so that they could combine their insurance industry expertise with the new ability to use programming languages to explore data in support of complex risk and investment assessments.

  2. As a position with recently broader leadership roles, CFOs can champion the business case for these workforce development policies. CFOs can look at the learning and development budget and find ways to channel some of that investment toward retraining for more tech-savvy skills needed for changing job descriptions. Among the most valuable leverages that CFOs can provide goes beyond that straightforward financial case to focus on the higher strategic value that reskilling and other workforce development programs create. They can employ finance’s analytical and measurement capabilities to understand how reskilling improves key workforce productivity metrics―such as employee engagement and loyalty and retention―and to learn which programs work best.

Ease Reskilling by Sticking with Excel

Since corporate finance has been a field dominated by Excel spreadsheets for decades, it is understandably difficult for many to transition to another method of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. There are numerous finance professionals, and cloud based software who encourage the abandonment of Excel altogether when transitioning to another tool, which, in turn, makes it ever more difficult to reskill a finance team.

A better approach to the issue of reskilling a finance team, is to find a solution in which an organization can continue to benefit from their workers’ expertise in Microsoft Excel. Some of the best FP&A software offer a middle ground of sorts; in which users are not forced to leave this perennial application-- instead, such financial analytics software serves as a complement to Excel use.

Organizations like DataRails offer this unique opportunity; in which finance professionals can continue to use their knowledge of Excel to succeed in their work, while reaping the benefits of newer tools at their disposal.

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