There is no doubt that the role of the CFO has evolved over the last few decades in tandem with the changes and demands of the working environment. The economic challenges posed by the recession that followed the credit crunch, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, have asked questions of the CFO in new ways. Not only do they need to keep a company’s balance sheet healthy, but now their finance function must add real value to the business and become trusted business partners and indeed, a profit centre.
To some degree, the initial response of many CFOs in the late noughties was to review finance department processes only in conjunction with an outsourcing model. This enabled economies of scale, generated some efficiency improvements and cost reductions.
However, these changes still relied upon manual interventions, limited digitalised processes, and did not fully allow the finance function to achieve the profit centre status that is demanded by today’s workplace.
Today’s finance leaders need to be able to react swiftly and with conviction. This requires accurate and timely management information delivered by entirely digitalised processes and, most importantly, bespoke to the business’ needs. This is one area where automation can certainly help.
However, in their wider strategic role, today’s CFOs also need to consider non-finance processes as there is much to be gained from a comprehensive review of operational business drivers to improve efficiencies, particularly from a digital perspective. Again, there is no doubt that Intelligent Automation can help here, especially with digitalisation and cost reduction.
Yet, with the right set of experts involved and a comprehensive understanding of those business drivers, automation can materially increase operational productivity within the finance function and beyond. I believe that Intelligent Automation must be included in a CFO’s toolkit if they wish to not only optimise operations within a finance function but also make it a profit centre.
James McDonald, Finance Director, Triad Group Plc