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3 Ways CFOs Can Use Technology to Transform Their Organizations

Today’s CFOs no longer just oversee an organization’s finance function.

As a CFO, you now drive growth across all areas of the business – from improving the customer experience to using technology to innovate.

This expanded role requires you to partner with various teams on a digital transformation strategy. According to the 2018 CFO Sentiment Study, almost 50 percent of CFOs regularly meet with others to “align their technology initiatives with all enterprise, department, and team goals.” 

As you put a stronger focus on collaboration, you will require better ways to share financial data with the rest of your organization. This will help you provide other leaders with the insights that they need to transform digitally. It will also help you show the CEO how the finance team is driving business forward. 

However, you may face challenges when you try to obtain and analyze financial data. For example, organizations often store data in multiple systems – from paper files to disparate applications. This makes it hard for you to find relevant data and gain a quick snapshot of your finances. Meanwhile, many business processes are still done manually. When data is entered by hand, it almost always contains errors.

3 Ways CFOs Can Use Technology to Transform Their Organizations

Many CFOs are turning to automation to solve these challenges and gain access to accurate, up-to-the-minute data. In fact, more than half of the respondents to the 2018 CFO Sentiment Study said that they plan to increase their investment in finance automation technology this year. This is up from the 38 percent of CFOs who said they would make these investments in 2017.

Here are three ways you can use automation to transform your organization:

  1. Digitize your paper files to make them more secure and easier to find.

    Converting your paper files to a digital format eliminates the time-consuming task of searching filing cabinets and desks for information. You can store all your organization’s records in a central database that employees can access from their desktop or mobile devices. This makes it easy for you to find the financial records that you need to share with other leaders.

    When you digitize your files, you can also apply controls around who can and can’t access them. This improves your security by keeping unauthorized users away from your sensitive data.

  2. Gain quick wins.

    Many organizations start their automation journey in AR or AP, as these areas often rely on slow, error-prone processes. In fact, AP departments process 2/3 of their invoices manually. With so much manual labor, it’s not surprising that it takes 12 days and costs $13.04 to process a single invoice.

    Automating your AP and AR processes can materially reduce the amount of time that it takes to process payments. This allows your finance team to spend less time manually keying in data and more time on strategic projects.

    Finance automation technology can also take the hassle out of processing exceptions.

    Invoice exception handling is a huge and costly problem – even for the most organised AP teams. Exceptions can lead to late payments, unhappy suppliers, and increased operating costs. In fact, research has shown that eliminating PO exceptions is one of the most effective ways to reduce AP costs. When you automate your exception handling, you can direct your saved funds towards other projects that improve your customer experience and drive revenue. 

  3. Work with other teams to automate their processes.

    After you automate your AP or AR processes, you will have a use case that you can share with other leaders in your organization. Once they see the benefits that you have achieved, they will feel more comfortable innovating in other areas.

    Other manual, error-prone processes that are ripe for digitization and automation include:

    • HR tasks including employee records management, on/off boarding hires, paid time off management, and payroll
    • Finance processes such as expense reporting, procurement, tax filing, policy management, asset transfers, and M&A documentation
    • Claims processing and customer service
    • IT and operations processes including tech support inquiries, asset tracking, access management, and order fulfillment
    • Facilities services such as meeting room bookings, lease agreements, parking management, and mail room processes
    • Processes in areas including shipping documents to shared services facilities, change management, marketing, and legal
    • Any processes that require you to obtain signatures such as sales orders, leases, contracts, and other agreements

How to Start Your Digital Transformation Journey

After you identify areas that would benefit from digitization, you’ll need to get others on board with your project. Partner with the CEO and line-of-business (LOB) sponsors to define your priorities. LOB sponsors have in-depth information about their processes and the areas that they would like to improve. They can work with you to ensure that you don’t overlook any key items. 

You will also need a plan to engage employees, so they adopt your new technology and processes. Your digitization project won’t succeed unless you get everyone on board. 

Are dated technologies and error-prone, manual processes putting you at a competitive disadvantage? Discover how other Canadian CFOs are innovating and driving their organizations forward. Visit RicohChangeMakers.ca/CFOA today.


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