Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Navin Gupta

Key takeaways from the blog

1. The CFO’s role and agenda are continuously evolving over the years.

2. Cloud Native Intelligent Automation helps deliver this agenda.

3. The technology combo helps CFOs to future-proof their business.

Today, CFOs focus more on futureproofing their businesses to gain a competitive advantage. Finance and Accounting is vital for enterprise performance, and the CFO role is increasingly evolving due to recent geopolitical events. With a broad agenda to accelerate business transformation, CFOs have to transition from being the head of a back-office function to being a strategic decision-maker and take full ownership as a strategic business partner towards a future-ready Finance and Accounting function and enterprise. However, they have to counter many challenges, including changing pricing structures amidst a dynamic market, increasing customer demands, high-risk exposure, the requirement for specialised techno-functional resources, and supply chain management. Cloud Native Intelligent Automation enables CFOs to handle such business challenges even while dealing with skills shortages.

CFO priorities in the changing business landscape

The CFO agenda is evolving in the dynamic business landscape. Today’s priorities are drastically different than yesteryears. Here are the CFO’s major agenda items:

1. Cash flow improvement/management: It is crucial to sustain the business and its different activities. These activities include having just-in-time raw materials, paying vendors and employee salaries, paying for office maintenance, warehouse, and debts, manufacturing, processing, logistics, and paying shareholders, investors, and directors, and much more. These are crucial business activities that get hampered in case of a lack of cash flow.

2. Digital transformation: It is the pathway to an autonomous business model. It ensures that the activities are not colocation-dependent or entirely human-dependent. Digital transformation directly influences the cash flow of a business and its overall ecosystem, including vendors and partners.

3. Futureproofing: It is a significant concern for most CFOs vis-à-vis recent geopolitical upheavals and resultant market backlash. Futureproofing Finance and Accounting and the overall business includes leveraging Cloud Native Intelligent Automation. It allows enterprises to create agile applications to automate their day-to-day processes and integrate them with their core enterprise applications.

4. The shift of Risk Management ownership: Risk Management automation drives the highest and fastest Return on Investment. With recent market upheavals due to geopolitical events, CFOs increasingly own the Risk Management portfolio. This shift of portfolio ownership directly influences the enterprise cash flow improvement/management.

5. Strategy and Innovation: Investing in Integrated Finance and Operations, Data Management, and Connected Data and Ecosystems sums up the digital strategy of CFOs. Cloud Native Intelligent Automation cuts through most of the Finance and Accounting innovations. Nowadays, Low code – No code Intelligent Automation platforms are manned by Citizen Developers who have more ownership of the business processes. These initiatives require active leadership involvement along with dedicated sponsorship.

6. CRA/ESG initiatives: CFOs continually seek investment opportunities and FDI in different companies to generate capital for business expansion. Seeking the right candidates for investment is a must. CRA/ESG evaluation and analysis enables CFOs to research their prospects on an ongoing basis.

Varying degrees of automation support the above data points. The digital skill/managed service vendors efficiently manage the digital skills requirement.

What are Finance and Accounting best practices?

Here are some key pointers for successfully transforming the Finance & Accounting function –

1. Focus on differentiators of success. Evaluate and prioritise activities for Finance & Accounting transformation.
2. Develop a future-state design. Create a library of transformation case studies, automation use cases, and tools.
3. Create value for the broader business ecosystem. Enabling the vendors/partners allows the seamless functioning of the business.
4. Create a blueprint for Finance and Accounting transformation projects. Keep them sustainable and on schedule.

In summary

CFO priorities are changing, and the role is increasingly evolving. CFOs are emerging as strategic decision-makers and business partners compared to just function heads. Accordingly, the CFO agenda is also changing. Cloud Native Intelligent Automation enables CFOs to successfully deliver their business agenda even while dealing with a skills shortage.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members