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Why Finance is Driving the Advanced Technologies Agenda

John Champion - May 09, 2019
Why finance is driving the advanced technologies agenda

Working with finance and treasury teams on both sides of the Atlantic, a trend we increasingly see is that IT teams are no longer the gate-keepers when it comes to purchasing technology. Rather, it is finance and treasury themselves who identify and engage the technologies they need to enhance performance.

The main reason finance and treasury are taking the reins on decisions around the adoption of new technologies is the increasing availability and accessibility of data within the finance function.

This, in turn, comes from the wide-spread use of cloud technologies where much data is stored, and the ability of functional departments to make software purchasing decisions.

Finance as the beating heart of data within the business

The reason finance teams are so well equipped in this regard is because of their unique visibility into what Adobe’s CFO Mark Garrett describes as “the inner workings of the business — from R&D investment, to operational efficiency, to sales”.

Finance and treasury teams have access to virtually all of a company’s key data, right down to a granular level.

For instance, they generally hold full details on all of the company’s supplier payment costs and payment terms, salary costs across the business, unit prices, unit shipping orders, receipts, currency exchange levels and costs, and much more finance and operational data from across the business.

While the finance team might not previously have considered themselves as true hubs of firm-wide data, they are now beginning to realise the power that all of this data has in assisting with their strategic and analytical aims.

Access to this data has enabled treasury and finance teams to explore the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation, as well as analytical and visualisation tools to extract insights that complement c-suite decision making.

Finance driving the competitive advantage

As we’ve discussed previously in the articles linked above, these new technologies go beyond simple operational efficiency improvements, and are helping finance and treasury teams to strengthen their organisations’ competitive advantage.

A recent study by Barclaycard surveyed 500 senior financial decision makers and found that 40 per cent are looking to upgrade their financial and accounting systems in the next 1-2 years.

“Our research shows that CFOs that embrace technology not only achieve tangible savings for their organisation, they also streamline business processes and paperwork, even when faced with resistance to change,” commented Marc Pettican, Managing Director of Barclaycard Commercial Payments.

“CFOs play an essential role in advocating and piloting these new technologies, helping their organisation to stay one step ahead of the competition,” Pettican added.

Advances in technological adoption

What we have noted from our most recent engagements with clients, is that businesses are moving further along the technological adoption cycle.

While the last five or six years has seen many companies complete lengthy installs of large ERP systems, now that the dust has settled on those projects, they are again beginning to look at more precise tools to help them achieve specific objectives.

For example, if a large ERP implementation project has been completed and the finance team identifies an area that has the potential for further improvements, they are likely to seek a specific software solution that compliments the existing technology infrastructure.

This approach is largely gaining traction because of the increasing number of targeted software solutions that address particular pain points, and which can be rolled-out with minimal disruption.

This trend, of finance and treasury teams embracing best in class tools that closely target specific issues, is the result of the fact that it is those teams driving the advanced technologies agenda.

Understanding the business

As finance and treasury teams sit at the heart of the business, it is important that they understand the overall strategic aims of the company, and that these aims appropriately shape the objectives of any finance team technology investments.

In practice, this means that the treasury and finance team’s technology and processes must be able to support the wider business’ growth plans, whether this means ensuring that cash levels remain sufficient to finance planned acquisitions, execute share buy-back programmes, or make investments in R&D, for example.

Engaging with business unit leaders is a critical step, both in terms of identifying the business requirements, but also making sure that those leaders within the business understand the purpose and benefits of any new technologies. Securing buy-in from these key people early in the process makes any subsequent roll-out phase a great deal easier.

Making purchasing decisions on new technologies

While digital technologies are becoming more affordable, it is important to clearly define the objectives of the investment before making any final purchasing decisions.

To aid this consideration it is also important to understand what the impact of the new technology will be on both the finance function and wider business.

This might mean examining roll-out times, any operational or compatibility requirements for the new technology, or exploring whether any training schedules are built into the go-live process.

Carefully thinking through the full extent of the benefits of the technology, and weighing them up against the cost (both in terms of time and monetary cost) will help to make any purchasing decisions much easier.

About CashAnalytics

As a dedicated cash flow forecasting software provider, CashAnalytics offer a targeted software solution that improves our clients’ cash forecasting processes.

We do this by removing the administrative burden from the process and using advanced analytics tools that enable users to uncover deep insights that add real value to the business.

Our software can usually be rolled-out on a client’s systems within four weeks, and with minimal impact on their day-to-day operations. Follow this link to learn more about how getting up and running on CashAnalytics is quick and easy.

If you would like to see a demonstration of our software, where we can run through exactly how we benefit treasury and finance teams, please contact us directly, or request a demo now.