Why CFOs must take control of their data

Digital transformation changes everything – or does it? Despite being a trend on every organization’s agenda, prominent success cases are scarce.

The opposite is unfortunately easier to find. Only half of the executives in a survey were successful in developing and implementing strategies (Wipro Digital 2017).

What is the reason? It is a complex and highly interdisciplinary area. However, when throwing yourself into a digital transformation project of business-critical processes, too many neglects one critical aspect: start from the beginning.

It’s about data

Wrong incentives often influence companies and their vendors. The all too common focus on IT systems, new shiny software products, and exhaustive ERP upgrades are often counterproductive. The essence of transformation is not yet another software solution. Although promising, new ERP implementations fail alarmingly often as ROI is uncertain. The reality is that it takes too long and is too costly.

Technology changes so fast that your ERP might already be obsolete when it is implemented.

Instead, you should start with your data. What information you manage, and what do you want to do with it. Here is where it gets interesting; when it comes to understanding and processing data, few are better equipped than the CFO.

Here is why: digital transformation, streamlining of processes, and the development of business models require proper digitization. Analogue doesn’t work in a digital world. Data must be digital. Putting digitization in work, well, that is data management.

For businesses, it means the art of collecting, processing, and reporting on data, and furthermore align these with processes and organizational goals. Alternatively, change processes altogether due to the new requirements or possibilities.

The unsung hero of data management

Many aspire to be leaders in this process. Trendy roles like CIOs and CDOs claim ownership.

Here might be a clue to why organizations fail in their transformative ambitions. The core data of any organization is nowadays the same ever: information derived from sales and purchases. From the organization’s transactions. In other words, the domain of the CFO, the true unsung hero of data management. This is why accounting is the art of structured information.

Accounting might be one of the first professions in history. Information processing, analysis, and reporting have been on the desks of treasurers and accountants for centuries. Some of the oldest written documents ever found, from the Mesopotamian empire, are trade records.

It is, therefore, a bit surprising that few CFOs are in the lead of this transition. A survey by IFS Digital Transformation (2017) states that only 35% are in the driver seat in their organizations.

So, where to start before deciding on another large-scale ERP makeover or massive IT investment? Explore your potential, identify your specific transformation thresholds.

Get started

1. Start where you stand. Start small. Begin with well-known and simple processes
2. Explore your potential. Define the ratio between analog and digital invoices
3. How many supplier invoices are e-invoices? How many are paper or PDF invoices? Remember that PDF is not a valid digital format
4. Make a plan to incentivize your suppliers to use e-invoices

Essential insights are the first step towards digital transformation. Learn how we can help you improve and automate your financial processes, contact us.