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BLOG: The CFO as catalyst for change

Joanne Abbott | Sept. 26, 2013
How Finance can take the lead in business transformation

Thus, the best performing finance organisations are far more likely to have advanced capabilities in six value-adding areas: finance function strategy and governance; value-centred culture; strong focus on emerging technologies; strategic planning and target setting—forecasting, reporting and analytics; and financial risk management.

Addressing challenges

The CFO role is becoming more strategic and influential, but challenges remain. How then should CFOs address these challenges?

These are some of the steps that we believe CFOs must consider to assist in business transformation—overcome challenges in the operating environment and technology, and help position their business for future success:
•    Apply emerging technologies and work with colleagues to drive the next generation of efficiencies in the business.
•    Work with business colleagues to ensure that investment and resources are allocated appropriately and at the right time.
•    Explore integrated business services as the next evolution in the shared services agenda.
•    Adopt a forward-looking approach to strategic insight and decision support through more robust use of analytics.
•    Take the lessons from finance transformation and use them to drive change in the broader business.
•    Shift the focus from maintenance of IT systems to technology innovation.
•    Develop a better understanding of how technology can support both the cost and growth agendas.
•    Collaborate with other functional areas, including marketing and HR, to ensure that technology investments enable the right business outcomes.

With their profile now higher in the organisation than at any time in recent memory, CFOs now have the opportunity to become an agent of broader, business-wide change.

Technology is increasingly proving to be an important enabler of this new role. Innovations such as big data and analytics are giving CFOs and other managers the information to identify the need for change, make well-informed decisions, and prioritise different initiatives.

Becoming an effective agent of change requires CFOs to possess the leadership skills and have strategic and commercial insight to work with CEOs to outline the vision and overcome resistance. CFOs must have the ability to prioritise their own agenda and find the time and resources to dedicate to change projects — a challenge in itself at a time when the CFO role continues to become more demanding and complex.

Joanne Abbott, Managing Director, Accenture Management Consulting – Finance and Enterprise Performance, ASEAN.


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