originally posted on April 8, 2017 at Motus.com
The CFO Corner is a recurring series on the Motus blog featuring advice from Motus Chief Financial Officer Tim Brown who has spent his career working with technology and growth companies as an executive and investor. The topics covered range from management best practices, insights on industry trends, and advice for the modern finance leader.
The role of the CFO is changing across every type of business. Over the last two decades, we have witnessed the advent of software-as-service, smartphones and robust mobile networks that increase our ability to interact with business data from nearly any location. This cloud-based, mobile world has pushed the finance function to evolve. The responsibilities of today’s finance executive have expanded beyond traditional accounting practices and financial reporting. CFOs now have greater visibility into their key business drivers, which has shifted the focus to providing the analytics and insights for their company’s strategic initiatives.
Accessing the data
CFOs today are busy managing these responsibilities which requires them to be efficient with how they spend their time. In 2017, more finance executives are taking advantage of cloud and mobile-based technologies to help them do their jobs effectively – myself included. These technologies offer connectivity to every part of the business and accessibility to financial systems and real-time reporting anywhere with an Internet connection. Cloud computing is changing how CFOs do every single part of their job.
Proformative, an online community for CFOs, talks about how Finance leaders are no longer building out budget templates in Excel spreadsheets to aggregate disparate data from three separate systems. Now they’re leveraging automation and cloud-based software to access and report real-time data. Forrester research explains that now is the time for finance leaders to embrace the mobile mindset as more business is being conducted on mobile devices.
This research certainly resonates with me in my role at Motus. We leverage cloud-based applications for our general ledger, budgeting/forecasting and reporting. More often I’m reviewing reports from my mobile device and using the cloud to access and store financial data when working remotely. This wasn’t the case even a few years ago, financial systems required heavy IT support and the information was only available with a direct connection. The on-demand availability of business performance data is enabling finance leaders to be much more agile in their decisions.
The increased accessibility to business metrics and KPIs has shaped how today’s CFO operates in their role. It’s allowed for finance leaders to dedicate more time to reviewing and analyzing business performance rather than wasting time collecting the data. For example, I’m able to reference a dashboard view in a software platform that calculates critical business KPIs. It’s accessible any time and is always up-to-date.
With this quickness in processing data, CFOs are provided a more granular level of detail when they’re reporting on the business. These frequent insights help to inform business decisions in real-time. This offers an ability to make changes in investments, expenses and strategy when the data is not trending the way the business wants.
Forbes includes these sentiments in their piece regarding what CFOs can expect in 2017. In the coming year Forbes predicts, “As enterprises continue to become more digital, finance will become increasingly dependent on automation, and analytics to deliver real-time, clear, actionable and forward-looking insights.”
Optimizing business performance
It’s important that today’s finance leaders evaluate the benefits of cloud and mobile-based technologies. Taking advantage of these solutions can increase your team’s productivity, save you time and help you to optimize business performance. We have more on our plates than ever before, but we also have the resources and tools available to help us do more and provide more value.