The idea that Finance should transform into an automated, digitized and value adding function has been around for years. However, in many finance functions, it’s NOT happening. At least not yet, successfully that is. At the centre of this non-action is the CFO. (S)he needs to start the transformation. It’s not because (s)he doesn’t know it’s a necessity for the future of Finance. It’s not because (s)he doesn’t know what the elements of a successful transformation are about. No, the only thing it can be about is that (s)he hasn’t made the right plan or perhaps even the plan is there but the ability to execute it is lacking. Here the CFO’s roadmap to transforming the finance function is needed.
You can somehow compare what you need to build your finance function with a logical test that keeps increasing in difficulty. First, you fix the basics of Finance with investments in systems as a big enabler. Then you hire some smart people to do some smart things with all the data housed in your new systems. Afterwards, you hire some other people (or if you’re lucky train the smart people) to put the smart things into a business context. Then you institutionalize that process, call it business finance, and keep on refining the process while developing functional business finance specialists. Then. Then what?
Once you have a streamlined business finance function which sole purpose is to support the frontline add value to the business we’ve sort of come to the final frontier of Finance and the end of the roadmap. BUT. We will even try at the end of this book to take a step further into the unknown. To go where no finance professional has gone before. We only have one principle for Business Finance and Beyond and that is that Finance doesn’t run the business. Finance supports the business. Feel free to challenge us on that one but we do believe that there’s no point in overstepping that boundary. Because if that’s what you want to do then what are you doing in Finance? Then go get a job on the frontline and do business. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s not Finance’s job to do it.
We hope that following reading this that you will share your reflections with us as well as examples of how you have transformed your finance function. Do also feel free to challenge us on the content as there’s nothing we’d love more than a good discussion on finance transformation!