Current pace of finance threatens corporate agility, report shows

Chief finance officers must accelerate reporting and analysis to increase agility and keep up with the current pace, study shows.

Adaptive Insights, the only pure-play cloud vendor to be named a leader in strategic cloud corporate performance management (CPM), releases its global CFO Indicator report, which explores the pace of finance, its impact on agility, and what CFOs need to do to shorten their organisations’ time to decisions.

Alarmingly, 77 per cent of CFOs admit that major business decisions have been delayed due to stakeholders not having timely access to data and report significant delays with respect to tasks like reporting and ad hoc analysis.

‘Corporate agility requires that organisations plan for multiple outcomes, particularly as economic conditions become increasingly uncertain, turbulent, and competitive,’ says Robert. S. Hull, founder and chairman at Adaptive Insights.

‘CFOs can improve their organisations’ agility by accelerating the speed of scenario planning and analysis. By giving key stakeholders more immediate access to data, finance can dramatically improve decision-making—the key to maximising corporate performance.’

The report warns CFOs that the current pace of finance could threaten corporate agility and provides views on the practices that should be adopted to create a more forward-looking, agile environment.

Key findings

The finance team is spending over half (53 per cent) of its time on reporting and data gathering alone. This leaves many organisations looking back at history, rather than forecasting forward

CFOs would like their teams to spend less time on report preparation and data collection (36 per cent) and more time on forecasting and scenario analysis (40 per cent). More and better analysis will lead to improved agility

CFOs (49 per cent) believe predictive analytics will most contribute to agility, followed closely by dashboards and analytics (45 per cent). CFOs desire to transition away from historical reporting, and toward a more forward-looking approach

The need for speed… in reporting and ad hoc analysis

This quarter’s report reveals that key decisions around such things as capital expenditures, resource allocations, and investments have been delayed because stakeholders don’t have timely access to data. With shrinking product and innovation cycles—not to mention ever-increasing global competition—these delays can mean the difference between the success or failure of the business.

CFOs (47 per cent) report that it is taking 11+ days to get reports into the hands of stakeholders, yet they (56 per cent) would like it to take no more than five days. Ad hoc analysis is also taking longer than desired, as CFOs (60 per cent) say this task takes up to five days, yet they would like it to take no more than a day. Reporting and ad hoc analysis represent two key areas that can be improved to enable better agility.

The impact of technology on agility

The desire to move toward a more analytics-driven organisation appears to be impacting CFOs’ decisions when it comes to implementing technology. Dashboards and analytics top the list of future purchases, with 45 per cent of CFOs saying they will invest in this type of solution by 2020, followed closely by budgeting and forecasting tools (40 per cent).

Discouragingly, it appears that most organisations continue to depend on point solutions that do not
provide the integrated access to data that SaaS solutions can provide. CFOs report that, on average, only 33 per cent of their organisations’ infrastructure is SaaS today with a desire to get to 60 percent by 2020. This is virtually unchanged from the CFO Indicator Q1 2016 report:

Further reading on corporate agility

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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Financial Management