HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE FACE OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK, examines the role that technology is playing in enabling finance professionals’ increased strategic contribution to organisations.

The standing of finance departments has changed substantially in recent years. While finance professionals have previously been unfairly perceived as “number crunchers”, their profile is increasingly becoming deservedly heightened to that of a key business partner – leveraging data and providing analysis on every aspect of the business from products and inventories to customers and employees. As explored within our latest whitepaper, technology has been pivotal in driving this shift to date and, when harnessed to its full capacity, has the potential to transform the role of finance departments within organisations.

Forward-thinking businesses have been quick to see the advantages of new-generation finance technology, particularly as costs for software solutions have come down significantly in recent years. The advent of cloud computing, advances in mobile technology and the increasing importance of big data are all having an impact on the way that firms operate and finance professionals are increasingly taking notice of developments in technology. Specifically, solutions such as corporate performance management systems are enabling a greater concentration on providing strategic business support at an elevated level.

Driving change and achieving operational excellence

Julie Windsor

Julie Windsor

One of technology’s biggest advantages from a finance perspective is its ability to raise the department’s strategic profile. Thanks to advanced analytical tools, finance professionals can now provide real-time business information that can be used to enable informed business decisions, highlighting both where the best opportunities for growth lie and areas in which a company may need to cut back. This provides finance personnel the opportunity to be at the leading edge, helping to drive change programmes rather than being participants of the latest corporate initiative.

Technology can also help the finance function to raise the bar when it comes to the use of business data. The ability for core processes and transactions to be automated frees up time to concentrate on strategic business performance, while standards of service offered to all areas of the organisation can be elevated due to the rich functionality and reporting tools that the latest systems provide.

Assisting data-led strategic decision-making

The change of pace of today’s corporate climate is now faster than ever before, and as such organisations must be in a position to capitalise on new opportunities as and when these emerge in order to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. Partly in reaction to this heightened pace of operations, business priorities can also now shift quickly and once again, accurate data must be available to address and assist these shifting priorities as and when they arise.

When used effectively, financial software solutions should ensure that the very latest data is always at the fingertips of the finance department to assist the business with up-to-date strategic decisions. In addition, the technology should also enable finance professionals to provide the latest view of how the business is performing against budget, providing the big picture of the organisation’s financial health and, perhaps even more crucially, detailed analytics for identified business-critical areas.

Increasing speed and greater collaboration

Technology enables core business tasks such as quarterly finance reports, balance sheets and profit and loss statements to all be produced in significantly reduced timeframes, in comparison to when these were addressed as manual tasks. With many of the latest finance software solutions also hosted in the cloud, finance professionals can access the information that they need from wherever they may be, allowing fast decisions to be made, sound in the knowledge that they are supported by high quality business intelligence. The latest systems also collate and consolidate information gleaned from other systems across the organisation, providing time-saving benefits in the process.

Over and above the aforementioned benefits, however, perhaps technology’s biggest contribution in the changing role of the finance department is the scope that it provides for encouraging collaboration across departments.

A survey that we conducted of 130 Finance Directors and Chief Financial Officers last autumn revealed a notable finding, with more than half of the respondents believing that collaboration across company departments is vital to improving corporate performance. Many new-generation systems now come with integral social portals, allowing finance to build and bolster connections with other departments and get involved in projects where a strategic contribution can be made. This, in turn, helps the finance function to keep in touch with what is happening internally, so that it can help other lines of the business to understand how they can become more effective and profitable.

By allowing finance professionals to provide and access the latest view of how the business is performing against budget and competitors, technology can provide the big picture of a firm’s financial health as well as detailed analysis to drive the business forward in critical areas. However, while technology may hold the key to continuing to enhance the role of finance within organisations, it is important to ensure that the profession is ready and equipped to embrace the latest trends as they emerge. A clear understanding of the corporate benefits that can be derived from technology is a key first step towards an enlightened approach to finance within organisations.

For further insight into how technology is transforming the role of finance, more information is available in the latest whitepaper from Talentia.

About Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK

A graduate of Cambridge University, Julie started her career in the software industry with a leading financial services company and later moved to a subsidiary of US giant, Control Data, where she was responsible for introducing solutions targeted at HR. Recognising that new developments in software were about to change the face of HR, Julie was part of a team that formed HRM Software, which focused on talent management solutions for major international businesses. As a director and board member of HRM Software, Julie worked with over 50% of the top 100 UK companies and helped to turn it into the market leader in its field. After the merger with Cezanne Software in 2006, Julie was appointed Director of Operations for the UK and Benelux and was a member of the board. Following the acquisition of Cezanne Software Holding Limited by Talentia Software (formerly known as Lefebvre) in 2013, Julie is Managing Director of Talentia Software UK and on the board of Talentia Software Holding Limited.
Picture Caption: Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK

About Talentia Software

Talentia Software is a leading international supplier of HR and finance software solutions, with over 25 years’ experience striving to always deliver the best possible service to customers worldwide. The product range includes Human Capital Management solutions with Talentia HCM, and Corporate Performance Management solutions with Talentia CPM (consolidation, reporting and budgeting). The group supports more than 3600 customers in over 30 countries, ranging from SMEs to large international organisations. Located in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, together with a network of partners across Europe, the USA, South America, Australia, Asia and Africa, Talentia delivers and supports customers globally. (www.talentia-software.co.uk)

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