Today’s CFOs wear many hats and are expected to perform diverse and challenging roles within their organizations. Two of those hats, Steward and Operator, are traditional roles for the CFO. Increasingly, however, CFOs are being asked to wear the hat of the Strategist and the Catalyst, helping to drive their organization’s vision and direct and to be agents of change and innovation.
While taking on the mantle of maintaining order, enforcing compliance and mitigating risk seems at odds with driving innovation and change, many CFOs have discovered that embracing business process automation can reconcile all of their roles and responsibilities.
Deloitte is one of many organizations to have distilled the role of the CFO down to four main categories: Operator, Steward, Catalyst and Strategist.
Here’s how business process automation can help any CFO to fulfill each of these roles:
CFOs have to operate an efficient and effective finance organization providing a variety of services to the business such as financial planning and analysis, treasury, tax, and other finance operations.
Business process automation often begins as an exercise in achieving greater operational efficiency, with returns on investment derived from man hours saved on manual processes like data entry, transaction approvals and processing. They are always undertaken with a vision for achieving far greater goals—including greater insights and analysis derived from more timely access to reliable data.
CFOs work to protect the vital assets of the company, ensure compliance with financial regulations, close the books correctly, and communicate value and risk issues to investors and boards.
Regardless of the size of the organization or industry, regulatory compliance and risk mitigation remains high on the list of concerns for CFOs. The effort and energy that goes into maintaining, monitoring and mitigating compliance risks are huge, and the pay-off can’t always be quantified as easily as achieving greater operational efficiency.
One of the consequence of any successful BPA initiative is more timely access to reliable data and greater process transparency. In the CFO’s role as Stewart, greater process transparency and access to real time data is the ultimate pay-off.
CFOs can stimulate and drive the timely execution of change in the finance function or the enterprise. Using the power of their purse strings, they can selectively drive business improvement initiatives such as improved enterprise cost reduction, procurement, pricing execution, and other process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.
Back office financial processes like accounts payable and accounts receivable often represent the low-hanging fruit for business process automation initiatives, because they can achieve a relatively quick ROI and clean up a lot of inefficient, manual tasks. Once these initiatives are successfully completed, they can provide a template for automating and streamlining other financial processes—but also, other processes throughout the organization. Suddenly, finance becomes the torch-bearer for innovation that other departments can turn to inspiration and real-life experience in innovation.
CFOs take a seat at the strategy planning table and help influence the future direction of the company. They are vital in providing financial leadership and aligning business and finance strategy to grow the business. In addition to M&A and capital market financing strategies, they can play an integral role in supporting other long-term investments of the company.
When organizations embrace business process automation throughout the enterprise, they have a broader and deeper understanding of their own operations and become far more agile when analyzing and predicting new opportunities or anticipating risks. CFO’s who are depended upon to help drive corporate strategy can leverage the benefits of business process automation within finance, then see those same BPA initiatives blossom in other departments and other processes, providing deeper insights and an even greater ability to drive greater efficiency and target new opportunities.
For more information about elevating the role of finance through business process automation, visit the Artsyl Technologies Web site at http://www.artsyltech.com/blog/