The role of the CFO has evolved over the last 10 years from a functional business unit best known for budget approvals and cost management to a strategic pillar within the senior leadership team. Modern CFOs now possess high amounts of influence over the performance and strategic direction of a business and are often regarded as trusted advisors on wider business challenges. They also oversee the regulatory and legal compliance of a business, working closely with the CEO and legal advisors. Often regarded as a catalyst for change within an organisation, CFOs spearhead conversations about new innovations to drive overall business improvements both within and outside the finance function. With the ever-expanding list of responsibilities assigned to the CFO and a range of business-critical goals to achieve, what role can automation play in helping finance leaders deliver more value to an organisation?
Rich data and insights
It’s no secret at all CFOs are number obsessed, often drowning in spreadsheets and forecasts. This data is what fuels every decision and often identifies areas for improvement or concern within a business. By implementing automation in some of the most laborious finance processes, CFOs can unlock more data and, most importantly, recommendations based on this data with the help of Artificial Intelligence. By obtaining this level of insight, CFOs are then, in turn, able to make smarter, more informed business decisions. The audit trail achieved by software bots can potentially unlock thousands of new data points at every level of the process, delivering the insights needed to make the decisions that will have the most impact.
More accurate modelling
Richer data delivered by automation fuels the insights and intelligence required to craft more accurate finance models and forecasts. These models can be further enhanced with Artificial Intelligence, which can help support a CFO spot trends and patterns within that data to help make realistic plans for the future. Think about the core financial reporting a CFO oversees which often feed into the senior leadership team within an organisation, and consider how many times in a financial year that they need to be redrafted? Automation can not only help make these reports more accurate in the first place, but the real-time insights gained from software bots could help a CFO achieve an accurate real-time view of critical reports like P&Ls and cashflow
Realigning a highly skilled team
A finance team is made up of highly-skilled, rigorously assessed finance professionals, who often have achieved a myriad of accounting qualifications to secure their role within a corporate finance environment. So why then are these well-educated employees wasting valuable (and often expensive) hours executing mundane and repetitive processes? With the help of automation technology, full-time employees can focus on high-impact projects which drive the business forward, further solidifying the Finance function as a strategic division within the organisation. Furthermore, CFOs will see increased engagement and often improved performance from their existing team, when automation is introduced to their day-to-day workflows, relieving them of the less interesting parts of their jobs.
More time for strategic thinking
In a recent NexBotix Finance Leaders Survey, 80% of respondents said they lacked the time for strategic thinking. As the CFO role has moved away from functional to vital and decisive, this is clearly a big problem for organisations looking to unleash the full potential of their senior finance leaders. As automation technology can deliver the high-volume tasks within the function, enhancing reporting and forecasting capabilities, whilst unlocking valuable team resources, CFOs who embrace automation to streamline their finance function can secure time for themselves to think more strategically, but can also enlist the help of their teams to support them, as software bots relieve some of the time-consuming tasks previously hindering this.
As the role of the CFO continues to advance, it’s more critical than ever that finance leaders seek complementary technology solutions, like automation, to help streamline their teams and workflows. More broadly, as a key stakeholder in budget allocation, it’s important that CFOs understand the scope and capability of automation technology when deployed in other areas of their business. Gartner named RPA (robotic process automation) as the fastest-growing enterprise software category, once again, in the RPA Magic Quadrant report 2021. It’s not a case of if, but when will various automation technology becomes mainstream for businesses outside of the enterprise category.
At NexBotix, we believe that the CFO will be one of the early adaptors of business process automation, so if you’d like to learn more about how we are helping other forward-thinking finance leaders automate some of their most time-consuming processes, get in touch today.