With so many "best of breed" and enterprise solutions to choose from, finance teams need to carefully consider which solutions to adopt. To that end, they may want to use criteria based on the total cost of ownership, which includes integration cost and sustainability as well as future innovation. For example, many leading RPA vendors may not currently be vendors but they do have the right products for implementation. Solutions such as SAP Leonardo, a platform for emerging technologies, could be a better fit over the long term for organizations that run SAP solutions.
With the growing importance of data, finance departments also need to assume greater ownership of data management, particularly for financial information. For years, finance has historically delegated data management tasks to IT. Going forward, however, finance teams will need to take a more proactive stance and take ownership of data strategy, data governance and management.
New technologies will also impact people and organizations. More automation will free additional resources, which means CFOs also need to develop a plan to retrain and re-skill people. That's why it is so important for CFOs to think about new service delivery and talent models. We also expect new roles to reside within the finance function, such as data managers and program managers for the automation and intelligence Centers of Excellence (COE). To that end, finance needs to develop a talent management strategy to re-skill workforce, staff new roles and create an inclusive and innovative culture.
Similarly, current service delivery models will need to be refreshed to align with the business strategy and take advantage of new technologies. Many organizations are already taking a close look at their shared services and outsourcing strategy.
As a final note, few people would buy a tool from a home improvement store without knowing what they would use it for and which project. We need to think the same way when it comes to using tools for finance transformation in the digital world. While it’s tempting to implement a new tool immediately, CFOs need to think carefully about their vision and required future capabilities. In other words, they need to step back and take the time to define the vision and goals before kicking off any transformation project.