Collaborating with IT is essential for transformation success, and new tech solutions may precede process redesign.
Finance transformation goes way beyond automation and the implementation of new tech solutions, to include process redesign and talent development. Its goal is to build new finance capabilities, by optimizing processes and reducing the time it takes to collect, compile and cleanse data. The upshot is that staff can focus on higher level activities, such as business partnering and strategic planning.
- But the modernization of finance’s technology stack is often the driving force, and most potent enabler, of the emergence of finance as a valuable decision-support, forward-looking organization.
- For years, companies have been advised to take the time to reform processes before implementation of a new solution. But this is a legacy notion that is unfeasible in today’s environment of quick-paced and unrelenting change.
- Instead, companies are embracing agile approaches to transformation by running simultaneous workstreams, implementing in spurts, then scaling up.
- As cloud ERPs and planning solutions evolved to include embedded best practices, it is not uncommon to lead with the technology and adjust the process to it—to save time and instantly upgrade legacy processes.
Stuck in the queue. Some (lucky) finance functions have a resident IT group that supports use-case identification, system selection, implementation and maintenance. However, those are in the minority. Most finance organizations must rely on corporate IT departments to provide these services, and that can be frustrating.
- “IT is busy,” one NeuGroup member said recently. Finance has to “get in line” and is not always IT’s first priority. Systems that enable operational efficiency and effectiveness can get first dibs on IT’s time. Competing with revenue-generating and cost-saving applications requires a strong business case.
- Typically, IT/finance collaboration goes only one way: finance has to make the call. “How many times has IT ever come to you with a solution?” one member in a recent meeting of our FP&A peer groups shared. “If you want to get tools, you must find them yourself.”
- In addition, IT does not always “get” finance’s business needs. “IT has no idea about the problems you’re solving for,” said another member.
Getting IT on board. “IT [collaboration] is a key theme of conversations I’ve had in the last year,” said another member. “There is a focus on data and more broadly on IT, bringing common systems to match up with common processes. While FP&A needs to work with different process owners (SG&A functions), “the relationship with IT is the most critical.”