“Not in recent history have we seen such rapid movement in economies, and workforce demand and availability.”
(Towers Watson, 2012)
As organisations strive to gain competitive advantages, they need to align their mission and strategic goals along with technology upgrades to adapt to the evolvement of economy. CFO nowadays plays an important role in helping the company set goals and strategy, and eventually guide the business to success. So does the finance department.
Research shows that the finance department performance is highly correlated to business performance. Managing risks, controlling financial flows, providing accurate planning, budgeting and forecasting results are essential components that help business adapt to change in this volatile market. Being the leader of finance department, CFOs need to ensure not only the strong financial position for the company but also the development and retention of the financial workforce.
Despite high unemployment rate in financial and accounting related fields in the past few years, CFOs find it is hard to recruit and retain talents in the financial department. According to KPMG, 78% financial executives worldwide consider financial department recruiting process as a medium to high risk to the success of the business.
Moreover, recent research from Towers Watson also pointed out factors, such as workforce changes, raisingcosts and higher expectations for financial employees and performance, are adding to the challenges of the hiring environment.
This leads to a question: how can we solve this ongoing problem?
There are many causes for this problem, hence we cannot solve it with a single approach. However, technolgy is one tool that has been considering by a growing number of companies.
The often overlooked relationship between technology and talent can provide a fundamental building block in hiring/retention strategies. Today employees’ expectation for technology has changed, especially to fresh graduates. They perceive technologies they’ll use in their new workplace are similar to what they use in normal life, and have the same usability and complexity. Unlike older generations, the young can hardly stand the frustration caused by outdated systems.
This combination between evolved expectations and significant technology upgrades has directed new way for CFOs to adopt new technology into their organisations. Two primary technology upgrades that are commonly implemented are mobility and social media.
The demands for mobility has increased rapidly ever since the first email app got introduced on mobile phones. Until now, the needs and capacity are already beyond that, with dozens of financial and management apps accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, ready to deliver all information needed to users anywhere anytime and eventually improve productivity and decision quality.
On the other hand, social media technologies provide organisations a single, centralised place to track information, help employees get closer, and ultimately help operate the business in a more connected and systemised way. Additionally, this technology upgrades also help strengthen customer relationship since business operators can easily create brand awareness, product/service experience and shape customer behaviours through social media platform like Facebook, Twitter or other application built for businesses.
However, the adoption of new technologies such as mobility and social media is not “risk free” at all. Therefore, CFOs need to consider very carefully on how to adopt these technology upgrades into the systems while keeping the strategy and business alignment on track that help eliminating any risks these technology upgrades can cause.
Here are four criteria that help CFOs build a solid foundation to adopt any new technology into the system:
- Choose technologies that enable the finance department to do more with same or less resources: elimination of manual processes, general process improvement, and increase efficiency.
- Leverage existing technology investments: salvage every useful function of the current systems or choose a new system that can integrate with the current systems easily
- Provide long-term foundation: use new technology to adapt to change without changing and outsize costs.
- Target profit-potential business areas where exponential gains can be achieved: determine the right technological advancements based on individual needs and business strategies to eliminate risks and unexpected expenses.
The right combination of technology upgrades, people and processes can help CFOs to position their current state and eventually lead the business to success. This is the end of our blog series “How to make technology a catalyst to high performance finance”. Interested to know more? Click on the image below to download the full whitepaper.
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