Decision Support for the Finance Function
When companies talk about finance driving the strategy, what they are really talking about is decision support. Executives need more data to make their decisions and it needs to be high-quality, timely, well-constructed data – data that creates insight. Strategic decisions need to be made in real-time with consideration for changing business dynamics and trends that are only accessible – reasonably – through tools that do most of the analysis and presentation for you.
Executives need more than their P&Ls and balance sheets, and budget-to-actual reporting only scratches the surface of useful planning and forecasting. COVID has brought the needs for these capabilities into stark contrast against traditional budgeting. Not only have the waves of the virus created uncertainty and dramatic fluctuations in the business cycles, but also the realization that planning for the future is more complicated and more fluid than it ever was before.
Analytics have also gained even more importance – using key financial and operating metrics to manage the business will become increasingly important.
What it Means
- Most finance departments that do not yet have robust capabilities in these areas will look for short-term solutions – most likely Excel workbooks – while trying to figure out their overall plans. This will help them understand the limitations of their data and provide an opportunity to train staff on forecasting and analysis concepts quickly.
- Many companies will find themselves with core systems and data that limit these capabilities, and many will also realize they have a workforce that is well-equipped for day-to-day accounting operations but less capable of generating insight for leadership.
- Most companies will need to evaluate their decision support infrastructure. On a basic level, do the current finance processes produce data fast enough to be able to produce regular, reliable reports?
- Investments will be required in planning tools and in analytics, and staff will need to develop new skill sets to use these well. These are realistic investments to make for middle-market companies and they will be required to generate faster and timelier planning cycles.
Up next, we’ll discuss how finance operations have been affected by the pandemic, and what leadership should be focused on.
Missed the previous post? Click here to read How COVID-19 Changed the Finance Function.
Want to learn more about finance transformation?
Re-Building Finance for a Post-COVID World: In this visual guide,â€¯Strategy and Business Transformationâ€¯Practice Leader Steve Ronan, shares how the finance function has changed as a result of the pandemic, how to define finance excellence, what finance executives are (or should be) prioritizing now, the importance of compatible finance technologies, and how you can start improving the finance function for your business. Click here to learn more.
Missed our July webinar on Building a Finance Function for a Post-COVID World? Click here to watch the recording.
Finance Transformation Roadmap: Download our complimentary whitepaper to learn how you can use process engineering and digital technology to close your books faster. Click here to learn more.
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