The Top CFO Tools for Your Tech Stack
Excel and TM1 were the go-to CFO tools for managing financial procedures not long ago. Excel is still useful for many people in finance and accounting today, although it has significant flaws when compared to modern finance tools.
It should come as no surprise then, that 82% of CFOs and 85% of Heads of FP&A expect to spend more time prioritizing advanced data analytics technologies and finance tools this year, according to Gartner’s Finance Technology Trends Survey.
The modern CFO is a new type of finance executive who must possess both technological and traditional accounting and finance expertise. CFOs are the gatekeeper of company performance and metrics, and their finance function cannot only measure success but positively enhance it across the enterprise, which makes a finance leader successful.
New solutions and tools have evolved to keep up with the expanding digital ecosystem, including no-code integrations, enhanced robotics processing automation (RPA), and systems like Datarails FP&A platform, which provides a consolidated, single source of truth to report, plan, and forecast within.
In this blog, we've assembled a list of the top tools and technologies for CFOs to use in order to become more efficient curators of data while also governing high-value strategic knowledge that propels the company forward.
Software Solutions For Finance Executives
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Accounting software provides a general ledger, necessary to manage transactions and reconciliation, but the range of solutions is generally limited. Additional functionality, such as inventory and supply chain management solutions, is added into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to address this problem.
Because different ERPs are geared to certain business needs and industries, such as manufacturing, it's a bit subjective to pick just one, so we'll declare the ERP race a tie for first place. We choose one option that is well-equipped for medium to large size enterprises with more integrated features, and another that is tailored to small and growing businesses.
NetSuite is a multi-purpose ERP system that incorporates general ledger, inventory management, and pronouncement solutions into one system.
Their solution helps midsize to large organizations operate more effectively by automating labor-intensive planning and budgeting processes so finance teams can quickly and easily produce budgets and forecasts, model what-if scenarios, and generate reports — all within one collaborative, scalable solution.
Benefits of NetSuite include:
Ability to manage billing, sales and purchase orders directly
Track supply chain and other inventory records
Additional system integration options
2. Quickbooks Online
Quickbooks Online is easier to use than its desktop counterpart, it's cloud-based, and is a dedicated accounting program that keeps track of your transactions, expenses, and other bookkeeping responsibilities.
For many small business owners, though, QuickBooks Online’s numerous integrations are the game-changer. QBO has over 650 integrations, allowing you to easily connect your accounting software to the best business apps and software.
Benefits of Quickbooks Online include:
Quick to implement
Easy-to-use features with minimal learning curve
The Best FP&A, Reporting and Forecasting Tools
ERP systems are sometimes promoted as a financial and accounting solution, but this is simply not the case. Yes, an ERP system is a step up from a simple general ledger and accounting system for processing transactions, but it was never intended to meet finance teams' financial planning, forecasting, and reporting needs. This is where a more capable and robust FP&A, reporting, budgeting, and forecasting technology can help.
Datarails is a FP&A platform for Excel users. It automates data consolidation, reporting and planning, while enabling finance teams to continue using their own Excel spreadsheets and financial models.
Automating these time-consuming manual processes paves the way for finance teams to spend more time analyzing data and less time collecting it. It also empowers them to answer essential strategic questions like what their organization can do to increase revenue and reduce expenses.
Benefits of DataRails include:
The flexibility of Excel
Spend more time analyzing data and less time collecting it
One source of truth
Data storytelling with built-in visualization tools
Jirav is an all-in-one cloud-based financial planning and analysis tool for small and midsize businesses that helps them forecast revenue and obtain sales insights. Finance teams may connect to numerous data sources and visualize revenue statements, cash flow, and expenses using graphs thanks to the solution's dashboard.
Benefits of Jirav include:
Easy setup and integration across teams
Historical data tracking
Ties aren’t just for management team formal attire. They also take shape in our list of the best CFO tools. Centralizing data in a single FP&A system, gives you control over your disparate systems for reporting, budgeting and forecasting with graphical representations and summaries. However, advanced data visualizations are sometimes desired by investors and board members.
More flexible dashboards with heatmap and infographic-like interface features are available with data visualization tools. The disadvantage of these dashboard designs is that they have a steep learning curve and frequently require a dedicated resource to organize and maintain data, making them a potentially expensive yet convenient choice for some. We couldn't make up our minds, like with the ERPs, so we settled with two solutions.
Tableau is one of the most widely used data visualization tools, and for good reason. It is well-known for its dashboards, which are likely to impress upper management.
Benefits of Power BI include:
Interactive charts and displays
Able to handle large data sets
Advanced users can use Python, R and other scripting languages
2. Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is an excellent analytics tool with open integrations to other Microsoft products, making it easy to aggregate and display big data sets.
Benefits of Power BI include:
Direct integration with Excel
Able to handle large data sets
Easy-to-use interface without the need for specific expertise
As more growing businesses emerge, the equity distribution among executives, employees, and investors changes. According to CB Insights, 520 companies will reach unicorn status in 2021, with valuations above $1 billion.
Significant rounds of funding and influxes of cash lead to massive hiring sprees with a need for more detailed equity management given the breadth of shares granted, which can be a difficult process to lock down manually. To attract great people in an exceedingly competitive and tight labor market, many companies offer company options and equity in remuneration packages. This is a recipe for demand to dramatically expedite the need to implement a solution.
Carta is a useful tool to simplify how companies manage their equity plans and distribution of company shares.
Benefits of Carta include:
Electronic security issuance and cap table
Payout and dilution modeling
Liquidity offerings tender offers and stock buybacks
Audit-ready 409A valuations
You can't record transactions in your general ledger or ERP system unless you have a way to accept payments from customers and clients. According to Stripe, and as reported by Nasdaq, Stripe processed at least $200 billion in transactions in 2019. With its simple and configurable interface and go-to tool for companies like Amazon, Google, Salesforce and Zoom, it’s easy to see why the company continues its rapid growth.
Stripe offers easy-to-use tailored payment infrastructure tools designed for any business size and type of industry of service provided.
Benefits of Stripe include:
Custom payments from 135+ currencies and flexible APIs
Pre-built payment and confirmation pages
Invoicing automation and subscription management
Fraud radar detector and blocker
Implementing the Best Solution for the Job
These are just a handful of the many tools and technologies that finance executives have at their disposal. Other solutions, such as HR systems, are usually under the CFO's purview, but end users have a greater say in such software. In other instances, additional software solutions are necessary, which is predicated on your industry, company size and your Finance Function.