How CFOs Can Drive Organizational Agility

The business world is rapidly evolving, forcing company leaders and employees to change the way they address their roles within an organization. Among the positions seeing a major evolution is the chief financial officer (CFO). These accounting professionals have long held the role of managing organizational finances in a way that prepares the company for a successful future. As companies recognize the value of breaking down organizational silos, CFOs are poised to take a proactive and collaborative role to identify sources of growth to meet short and long-term business goals. 

In an industry that typically depended heavily on historical data to predict future trends, much has changed. The years 2020 and 2021 drastically changed the way consumers spend money. Finance teams had to adapt on the fly to successfully navigate changes due to COVID restrictions and the unstable economy, making them experts in the agility required to adapt to changing circumstances. As a result, CFOs are prepared to drive organizational agility. Yet, for many, legacy systems and practices stand in the way of change. CFOs hoping to play a strategic role in driving organizational agility will benefit from these important changes.

Adopt Automation

The financial sector is a data-heavy space that requires stringent attention to detail. As a result, many hours are lost to cumbersome manual data entry tasks. Modern automation solutions are designed to decrease human labor to free up workers' time for high-level tasks and training. This is critical when roles across many departments depend on cross-skilling and learning new technologies to keep up with changing business models. While automation is typically praised for improving efficiency and productivity (which it does well), it can also be pivotal in promoting company growth through new service offerings and eliminating employee burnout.

Upskill for Company Alignment

According to a Manpower Group Talent Shortage Study, 75% of companies are suffering due to talent shortages. Skills required for in-demand roles continue to evolve rapidly. A Workforce study shows that leading organizations are four times more likely to have plans to upskill at least 75% of their workforce in order to meet talent requirements in the future. 

Upskilling helps build organizational agility by developing flexible employees who are ready for change. CFOs are responsible for communicating specific skills required for a modern, agile finance team. Digital transformation without the training to prepare employees for the change can lead to unease among employees, ultimately leading to resistance and increased turnover. Upskilling provides employees with the necessary training to handle new tools and work in various positions. Finance leaders must ensure their entire finance team has access to the resources and training needed to keep pace with the challenges it faces.

Leverage New Technologies

In a predictable environment, historical data can often be used to predict the most likely future. However, an economy uprooted by digital transformation, pandemic restrictions, and economic uncertainty is anything but predictable. Today's financial teams are faced with constant change and the need to adapt quickly.

In most industries, legacy technology forms informational silos that inhibit collaboration and innovation, ultimately limiting the company's ability to adapt to change. In a survey among C-suite leaders, 37% of respondents said they believe finance is the department most likely to influence digital growth in a business.  Companies need the ability to respond to real-time data to continually adapt to change. To accomplish this, CFOs need the ability to implement real-time scenario planning and forecasting to address ongoing challenges and disruptions that range from supply chains to internal limitations. 

A 2021 survey shows that many mid-sized to large enterprises struggle to achieve efficiency and agility in their planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. Many finance teams still rely on disconnected legacy applications and solutions, leaving a significant amount of data out of the process. The study revealed that a third of companies draw on just 1% of the workforce for input used in the budgeting and planning process. This lack of information provides little data for the insight necessary for accurate predictions. 

Modern software for financial teams is designed to eliminate the information barriers of siloed organizational structures to build collaboration through a single source of data derived from all relevant areas. By connecting all systems, financial teams can gather the depth they need for better insight into organizational changes and financial trends.  New tools provide multiple forecasting options for flexibility and improved accuracy. With the ability to run multiple scenarios and increase collaboration, CFOs can create accurate forecasts in continually changing circumstances.

Streamline Organizational Efficiency with Cloud Adoption

To compete effectively, today's organizations need to be agile. By moving departmental systems (including finance) to the cloud, companies can reach new levels of data availability to improve collaboration and make decisions based on measurable data. Employees need to be empowered with the right information at the right time to make the best possible decisions for a business. Companies slower to begin the process to a more agile way of operating (identified as laggards in the Workday study) say that out-of-date information and siloed teams are major barriers to informed decision making. 

For many companies, the process of migrating systems to the cloud includes replacing outdated systems that create information barriers and siloed practices. Cloud systems work to remove the complexities of outdated systems, improve the flow of data for communication and collaboration, and improve access to internal resources. As a result, all employees have access to the data they need to succeed in their roles.

A key concept of agility is the ability to adapt to new circumstances as they arise. In today's continually changing business environment, agility will likely be the biggest driver of organizational growth and the ability to weather unexpected challenges. In the same way the pandemic forced technological growth in many sectors, CFOs were forced into a world of constant adaptation to keep companies afloat. These challenges place CFOs in a position to lead their organizations into the agility that will be required for modern enterprises to succeed in today's continually changing business world. Start your journey to greater organizational agility with Workday. Contact us to learn more.

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