5 Ways Finance Leaders are Doubling Down on Data

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Today’s workforce is constantly changing. Technology and the automation of basic transactional tasks are shifting how processes are done and how executives approach their business — especially CFOs. Within the last year, the concept of digital transformation has only heightened the need for employers to completely adapt their business models to become not only more flexible, but faster, smarter and more efficient.

Companies that double down on data and analytics tools to help them with this transformation are often the most successful but investing in these tools is just the beginning. Here are four key considerations financial leaders should focus on to better leverage analytics for digitizing their financial function.

Invest in cloud finance technology

Organizations are drowning in data but are still starving for insights. The ability to capitalize and act upon data insights can make or break an organization, and while many business leaders will argue that their organization leverages analytics to some degree, research shows that those leading the way in analytics are seeing almost a 7% higher revenue growth rate.

This translates into the finance function by the following:

  1. Real-time insights into data enable organizations to proactively look at what is happening with trends and analytics, supporting evidence-backed decisions.
  2. Organizations often digest data in different ways. Cloud technology enables CFOs and other leaders to view segmented data in a much more flexible, transparent way. This helps to make decisions through data customization and takes finance out of the unnecessary, time-consuming role of anticipating what reports are needed.  
  3. Being able to benchmark is critical for organizations to understand how their business compares to others in the industry.

Companies are looking at the long term and understand that making an investment, such as moving to cloud-based HR and finance technology, will greatly benefit their organization. And for over 50% of organizations, the cloud has already gone from concept to reality when deploying cloud-based HR applications. This will be a key driver in moving toward a major transformation in today’s workplace, allowing companies to make smarter business decisions.

Have a clear plan

To remain resilient, enable agility and stimulate growth, organizations need a clear strategy on how they plan to bring their business to the cloud, especially the finance function.

“Continuous planning” has become the new benchmark for organizations who constantly consider new paths for organizational growth; once-a-year planning sessions no longer cut it. Leveraging things such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics are ways companies can plan and deploy more effectively and easily while limiting risk and disruption to their business.

When contemplating deploying the cloud, consider these tips:

  1. Don’t treat cloud finance technology deployment like legacy systems — they are far from the same.
  2. Work with a partner that specializes in deploying cloud finance technology.
  3. Consider how your cloud finance technology will fit into your “continuous planning” and deploy with clear expectations.
  4. Ensure you have the staffing resources in place before making the jump.
  5. Focus on what data you absolutely need transferred to the cloud on day one and consider data warehousing for legacy data.

Leverage data collaboration

When finance, HR and IT data are consolidated in once place, the benefits are fruitful. It can help to drive better outcomes for all while accomplishing each respective department’s end goals efficiently, creating synergy across the enterprise by engaging the right people on specific projects. Consolidating HR, IT and finance data also allows enterprises to think holistically due to the enhanced level of insight into the business and, ultimately, make better business decisions for the future. 

The success of an organization depends on giving your employees the tools they need to go above and beyond — more efficiently, more flexibly and more securely. Openness and collaboration are the new ways of working, and the cloud enables this in ways never before imagined. Not only does it reduce the amount of time spent on manual HR and finance processes, but it allows your business to make real-time, data-driven decisions to attract top talent and enable growth.

Measure your results

At most companies, salary and benefits are the largest expenditures, meaning two of the biggest cost drivers are “people related.” Organizations can get caught up spending money on programs and technology that aren’t showing ROI for the business nor providing beneficial offerings to its employees. And if employees aren’t happy, they aren’t engaged, and ultimately won’t see the benefit of what the company is providing. This becomes an even bigger problem as the pandemic has made switching jobs easier than ever.  

Given the critical role finance plays in driving broader business decisions, finance must identify the data insights it needs and analyze it for useful actions. In this case, measuring your employees’ engagement, desires and goals, is the first major step in retaining talent at your organization.

Making the jump

From targeting talent your company desires to identifying the skills and experience you need most for critical roles (both now and in the future), cloud systems enable this in a way not previously available. Not only does it improve finance functions, but it also enables HR teams to discover stronger candidates, pinpoint engagement problems more effectively to prevent future problems, and identify what exactly employees look for in an organization.

Consolidating your finance, HR and IT data in the cloud connects valuable insights across your enterprise, enabling you to better understand what your data is saying, where gaps may exist, and how your business can optimize opportunities to drive better, smarter outcomes.

Colin Brennan is Chief Product Strategy & Services Officer at Alight Solutions. Katie Rooney is Chief Financial Officer at Alight Solutions.


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