Being a CFO today is not only about balancing the books and keeping track of spending. It has become an increasingly strategic position.
An important element to this is the use of technologies in order to improve and streamline workflow. It has allowed CFOs to maximise new business opportunities and decrease the time taken to perform business critical tasks.
One of the keys to this is the choice of correct technology at the start of the process.
With the amount of time it takes to implement a change of software, combined with the time taken for teams to adapt, it means that it is important to get the correct technologies in place first time.
So what is it that CFOs should be considering when they are choosing the correct technologies?
What are the capabilities of your team?
As with any team, there will be those who are better than others at certain tasks. It is important to make sure that the technology chosen is accessible and useable by all. There will be a certain degree of training involved with any new technology, but it is important to remember that minimising the time needed on this is important. Every hour spent training people to use the equipment, is an hour away from their key tasks.
How are your needs likely to change in the future?
It will always be impossible to predict the future, but it is important to look ahead to what the finance function is likely to look like in one/three/five years and choose a technology that is going to stand the test of time to help all current and potential tasks. If a new technology is rolled out only to need replacing within a year, then it is simply going to create more disruption and cost down the road.
Balance Accessibility and Security
Finance departments store some of the most confidential information for any company. Sharing that information with certain parties can even put people in jail. Therefore it is important to balance accessibility of the technology with the security of the data.
We have seen that even the largest companies in the world can be caught out by hackers and therefore the best possible security needs to be in place. At the same time, accessibility is vital to the success of any new system. Cloud based systems are becoming more impressive and safe every day, but if the information you are dealing with is particularly sensitive, do you want to have it on any network accessible outside of your company?
Can you build on it?
The importance of scalability in new technology has never been higher. The speed of change in both business needs and technological advancements mean that having hardware and software that can be quickly and easily updated is vital. Scalability in the enterprise is the key to success and this is especially true in the finance function. If a competitor can close and analyse quicker than you, they are going to have a distinct advantage, so having the ability to update and upgrade is one of the most important aspects of any new technology.
I mentioned before about future proofing, and this is certainly an element of that to scalability. However, much of scalability is about adding software or elements of hardware, rather than attempting to do so on an obsolete system. This is an important distinction to make as although scalability requires the most up-to-date technologies for longevity, if it is beyond your budget to achieve this, then the most future proof all in one system would be the best option.
These points are just brushing the surface of what CFOs need to look at when choosing any new technology, each company is different and as a result the needs of each CFO are going to be different. The most important aspect to remember throughout the process is always going to be ‘how will this genuinely benefit us’.