Following the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have been thrown into a difficult and highly complex situation. Industries and markets are moving with a degree of uncertainty, consumer habits are changing at a faster than expected rate, and critical priorities for many businesses have shifted significantly.
To combat these challenges, companies are waking up to the need for transformation across their decision-making processes. While this digital transformation journey has applications across all business areas (including sales, marketing, operations, HR, IT, and more) there is a notable adoption being seen in the modern Office of Finance.
Decision-Making Platforms, such as Board, collect disparate data sources together and unify Business Intelligence (BI), planning, and predictive analytics in a single environment. This works to create a best-practice, fully integrated approach to Financial Planning & Analytics (FP&A) and reporting.
While Decision-Making Platforms are critical tools for leading transformation in the finance function, the professionals utilizing them must have the right mindset to adapt and overcome such initiatives.
For businesses today, creating value and managing risk in a world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will depend greatly on the finance function’s performance. In a recent Board-sponsored webinar with Gartner Nancy Queally, VP, Finance Advisor at Gartner, offers her expertise on the subject.
Queally points out that “technology is rapidly altering finance and business processes, exposing competency gaps that require new and improved skills” in several areas. To get to these ‘new and improved skills,’ changes are needed. However, often preceding change is negativity and resistance. Queally suggests several positive practices to ensure the skills necessary for success are adoptable quickly. Among the suggestions are:
Revealed below are five “must-have” finance professional skills necessary, as suggested by Nancy and Gartner, for success:
To effectively utilize new technologies, all finance staff must embrace a continuous learning attitude. This can be facilitated by highlighting how technology and automation reduce “number crunching,” freeing time for more productive tasks. Gartner predicts that this evolution will deliver improved value and insights to stakeholders while lessening monotonous, day-to-day work. Performance improves with this attitude while also increasing collaboration among remote workforces.
Working with IT and other departments while minimizing dependency on them is a skill that Business Process Management (BPM) tools facilitate for the finance process, according to Gartner. A more agile and self-sufficient finance organization is where staff create beneficial relationships with technology vendors to assist all users with the continuous flow of innovation. These finance leaders have a product-management mindset that blends IT and financial expertise, leveraging technology.
Gartner notes that explicitly identifying and addressing the requirements for data and analytics have a crucial bearing on the success of projects. Business and data analysts – typically financial analysts in the finance function – find that specific competencies and behaviors contribute to a smoothly -operating and well-governed FP&A team. Finance staff with the skills necessary to exploit data as a strategic asset by discovering, managing, understanding, and prioritizing it, will be in great demand.
Specific to the FP&A role, Gartner sees the necessity of knowing how to select and utilize the right analytics tools, such as implementing statistical methods to perform varied analyses and leveraging AI and Machine Learning technology. Combining these capabilities to present complex findings in business-friendly terms is a sought-after skill. As deemed best-practice by an IBP approach, combining financial and operational data will yield the best business insight.
Historically, the finance function isolates itself from other operational departments, resulting in poor resource allocation, overspending, and a general lack of alignment with overall organizational goals. Gartner sees this lack of collaboration as being potentially disastrous to the business. As technology takes over more transactional tasks, thanks to a proliferation of automation, finance must shift from being number crunchers and reporters to become strategic advisors and reliable business partners.
To achieve this, collaboration with other departments is mandatory. It means working more closely with subject-matter experts and vital, cross-functional players. The key is to have the right communication skills and the right technical skills to utilize a collaborative technology platform properly. In this way, knowledge sharing between teams is much more possible. Together, finance and operations will develop the big picture in planning and processes.
Decision-Making Platforms help CFOs in their evolving role as strategic leaders by delivering a 360° view of the organization and seamlessly connecting finance with strategy and operations to enable accurate, informed decision-making.
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