08 januari 2019

ACCA Member Survey: Journey to Transformation: think big, start small, deliver quickly

The survey was conducted via ACCA’s member e-zine, AB Direct, in 2018

ACCA is one of the world's largest accounting bodies with more than 200,000 fully qualified members and 486,000 students worldwide. 

Journey to Transformation: think big, start small, deliver quickly

Business & Digital Transformation is having a huge impact on the Office of the CFO. However, while enabling significant opportunities to increase Finance’s influence throughout an organisation, it also challenges CFOs and their teams to optimise key transactional processes, improve their reporting and build out key analytical processes. 

Finance teams recognise that their responsibilities are changing. In addition to traditional functions such as accounting, controlling and closing the books, as well as value added services like insights and decision support, M&A activity and risk & compliance, today’s Office of the CFO is increasingly expected to help manage volatility and enterprise complexity. Finance teams also need to help drive the delivery of competitive cost advantages across the business, as well as being instrumental in architecting digital strategies.

What’s clear is that the classic finance model is changing quickly. Previously the Finance department could expect to spend around 50% of their time on operational activities, with just 20% apportioned to performance issues. That model has now flipped, with performance analysis, interacting with decision-makers and other strategic initiatives now accounting for around half of Finance’s time. How the Office of the CFO adjusts to its evolving role is critical, particularly as it works to build both its understanding of digital technologies and the increased importance of data analytics.

It’s against this background that Jedox has worked with ACCA – the global body for professional accountants – on a sponsored  survey of Office of Finance members and gain a clearer perspective of where exactly Finance is on its Business and Digital Transformation Journey, and to detail how a proactive strategy – thinking big, starting small and delivering quickly – can help close the gap towards achieving their transformation goals. 

Are Digital Transformation ambitions outpacing today’s Office of CFO realities? While the survey found that Finance professionals listed customer satisfaction, growth and profitability as key strategic objectives, it was perhaps revealing that only 15% cited the ‘ability to adapt’ as a critical factor given the collective impact of change drivers such as increased competition, new market entrants, M&A activity and Brexit. The survey found that just 35% reported that they already had a business/digital transformation roadmap in place.   Interestingly, 42% of those surveyed believed that their own organisation wasn’t adaptable enough to adjust to the impact of a significant event. 

Similarly, the survey found that although 56% felt that their board was fully equipped to take them forward, just 36% had the kind of overall dashboards and scorecards in place needed to provide CFOs and other board members with full visibility around key KPIs and areas of risk. So there’s clearly a disconnect between transformation ambitions and current Finance realities. The Office of Finance acknowledges the need for change, but there’s a significant delta between perceived strengths and the actual systems needed to deliver them. 

Closing the gap - think big, start small In addition to traditional transactional and reporting systems, Finance teams are increasingly focused on building out their analytical capabilities. At the same time, innovations in process automation, data visualisation and machine learning are all helping to drive an automation imperative, while next generation technologies such as Blockchain and Big Data complete a picture of almost unlimited technologies. But where to start?

This can be a daunting challenge, not least because 75% of those organisations surveyed acknowledged that Excel is still the principal technology skillset for their Office of the CFO teams. This perhaps explains why so much of the Finance working week is taken up with basic data collection and maintenance activities. 

For many CFOs, the gulf between their current planning, reporting and analysis capabilities and the more integrated planning solutions needed to support digital transformation can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. McKinsey advises that more than half of a transformation’s cumulative value arises from smaller initiatives, so CFOs need to investigate how to make the journey from spreadsheets to Enterprise Performance Management much more accessible and achievable. Jedox believes that delivering on this requires a combination of thinking big but starting small will allow them to deliver on their goals more quickly.

To read more or download the survey click here

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