finance transformation

Why finance is fit to lead the way for transformation

Learn why finance is fit to lead the way for transformation

With growing threats in today’s economy and increasing regulatory expectations, businesses are looking to finance leaders to support decision making. 

Covid-19 has reshaped the way businesses think about planning. 

With expectations for faster forecasts and insights mounting, transformation projects that improve planning, scenario modelling and forecasting need to be prioritised as business-critical rather than nice to have. Having these insights will strengthen internal business partnerships as well as support business strategy conversations. 

Despite the apparent shift to more forward-looking tasks in the finance function, the coronavirus has forced a large majority of CFOs to put off or change their plans for innovation projects. According to a Grant Thornton CFO Survey in May of this year, eight out of 10 surveyed finance executives had delayed or reshaped innovation projects. With the remaining two out of 10 reporting that the crisis had accelerated their transformation projects.

Why business agility is more important than ever

As the country faces further lockdowns, there is an increased focus on agility.

Business agility is the ability of an organisation to: Adapt quickly to market changes – internally and externally. Respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands. Adapt and lead change productively and cost-effectively without compromising quality. 

It is difficult to respond rapidly and plan for various scenarios without access to real-time data.  Legacy systems and broken data models impact business agility and can become a roadblock to change if not addressed. 

Forward-looking businesses are adapting their operating model to the new world of work, what this looks like we don’t fully know but being able to drive performance improvements, test and measure effectively and accurately across the business is key to survival.

Why the hesitancy to get started with Finance Transformation?

The current pandemic is forcing organisations to respond and adapt rapidly to become digital-first. Pushing quicker, strategic decisions and increasing business appetite to introduce new technologies and ways of working. Incredibly, Microsoft has seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in just two months, according to CEO Satya Nadella (Source: Microsoft) demonstrating where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Despite finance leaders understanding the need to improve their business operations, not all companies have experience in introducing process change or even know where to start. Lack of expertise, hesitancy from cost constraints, reluctance to move out of comfort zones and lack of company-wide buy-in are often obstacles in successfully introducing change in a business. 

After all, it’s not just about finding the right technology solution and a way of implementing it; the world has shifted and reimagining your business operations with fresh eyes is required. Having a skilled taskforce to help you deliver on your objectives can help you move out of stuck quickly and effectively.

If you’d like help navigating your finance transformation, from mapping processes to stakeholder buy-in, we’re here to help.

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operating efficiency

Supporting the CFO to create operational efficiency

The new remote working landscape is pushing communication and technology capabilities to the edge. How are finance teams and auditors managing their processes remotely to achieve operational efficiency?

With all the usual challenges at year-end, and the next quarter looming, simply improving legacy systems isn’t enough. “Accruals, adjustments and internal transactions can throw up lots of queries that working in-person can expedite. If you have separate systems and haven’t got live data to hand, then any change can take several hours,” says Justin Wheatley, former RVP Financial Systems at NewVoiceMedia. 

We continue to hear from companies that CFOs with disparate systems and remote teams are making the best of it, trying to absolve the stress of their team, and mitigate the financial risk to the business that manipulated data and inaccurate reporting can cause. 

The value of a 360-degree view 

Companies with cloud solutions for Finance and tools for remote collaboration are reaping the benefits. Being able to see all your data in real-time will enable teams to close the month, quarter or year efficiently, with precision and accuracy.  

Keeping your ERP on an integrated, yet stand-alone platform is vital. It enables your finance team to update and access the financial information such as the general ledger and profit & loss account. But still display financial information to other objects, giving the business a 360-degree view of the customer account.  

“As a sales user, I don’t need to see the ledger or create journals, but I do want to see the financial return of an account. If outstanding payments are showing up and I’m speaking with the customer, Finance and Sales can work together to collect the money and close the deal,” says Will Davidson, VP, Sales at SalesTrip.

The customer journey 

The customer is at the centre of business. By having all your data on one platform, like Salesforce, you can get a 360-degree view on all the activity related to them. By tracking the customer journey from Lead to Ledger, you can focus on your top accounts and customers and jump in if any issues start to arise.  

Lead to Ledger includes Service team reports, i.e. is your customer raising cases, logging enhancements? Through to Finance, are their invoices outstanding? If one of your top accounts has had multiple issues with a product and is raising cases with Service, then Finance calls them to say your invoice is outstanding, you are likely to upset your key contacts. Having that 360-degree view of your customer would enable a Service Account Manager to add a ticket so Finance can see not to call until the resolution of any product issues. Keeping your customer happy and feeling supported, increasing loyalty and trust.  

Invest in your people and invest in systems that support your people.

There is a cost to design and implement a streamlined Lead to Ledger platform. But if you want to be head and shoulders above your competition, then you need a 360-degree view of your customer.  

By having everything on the Salesforce platform, you are empowering your employees to deliver the best possible service. The CFO, CTO and your CRO all have the most accurate information and a complete view of the customer. With disparate systems, additional resources are working unnecessarily. And you are still not achieving that full picture of the business!  

Creating a seamless process 

Customers want an enjoyable experience and a frictionless process. From the first touchpoint to becoming a customer, the end-to-end process should flow intuitively.  

CFOs who get the process right can shorten the close cycle. Improving forecasting and reporting, avoiding overly manual, error-prone processes. 

“When we were doing Billing at NewVoiceMedia, services were paid for annually in advance. We would raise the invoice, post it into the system, then spend days doing a journal to defer the revenue. Afterwhich, we’d start writing all that revenue back month-by-month. This is a huge process and would take about four people to action. When we systemised revenue recognition with Salesforce Billing, we could schedule this process and saved days on that close – just on that one process.” Justin Wheatley shares.  

“At the moment, companies are doing scenario planning more frequently. As a CFO,  you want to understand and prepare for the unknown impact on your revenue, costs and, most importantly, your cash flow. It is vital to be agile and have real-time data.” says Samantha Bodycomb, CFO at PhiX Technologies.  

Delivering operational efficiency for growth 

By transforming the Lead to Ledger process, you improve the customer experience and speed up processing. It also enables you to systemise manual tasks, reducing the need for junior finance roles, opening up the opportunity to scale the business in other areas such as R&D or Sales.  

“The return on investment is Finance goes from being an inputter of numbers to a real business partner. Giving value back to support sustainability and uncover growth opportunities.” says Samantha.   

Insights using real data is where you can add immense value; such as what is the company’s target market? Where should we be looking to gain the most sales? Which deals can be recognised as revenue? What percentage of discounts can we apply to particular products?  

How we can help 

We want the CFO to have accurate information at their fingertips. To be able to report how much cash is really in the bank? Or what type of deals are required to increase profitability right now? If the finance team is too busy crunching numbers, then this data is never released, and operating efficiency isn’t enabled. 

Some customers don’t become profitable until year two of their contract, with the right systems and accurate reporting; you can make that profitability come sooner. Having that information when you need it in real-time and all-in-one platform will help you to make informed decisions quickly.  

The good news is the technology is available to improve processes, overcome obstacles, and steer the business towards transformation success. We are supporting the finance leader to move away from traditional finance tasks. Empowering them to be a central and strategic business partner in these challenging and uncertain times. 

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remote working coronavirus

7 key business challenges to face during the coronavirus crisis

There’s no question that the coronavirus is a humanitarian tragedy, disrupting all our lives for the foreseeable future. Changing the way we work and highlighting the need to be effective, efficient and innovative in business. In this blog, we hear insights from leaders on how to leverage technology to support employee needs and customer demands.

The choice to work remotely has been a growing trend for several years, as of last week it is a way of life for all. The internet, cloud computing and mobile phones have enabled and empowered workforces to remain connected across geographies — a literal lifesaver as we all stay indoors to avoid further contagion.

The challenge for most, though is how do we remain productive and keep our companies running smoothly and securely?

1- Leading with empathy

Many in the workforce won’t know if their jobs and families are safe, so focussing on what customers need may not be at the front of their mind. It is, therefore, critical to ensure you connect with your team members regularly and have a way to capture ongoing conversations and customer care issues.

Now is the time to be precise and clear in communicating your organisation’s plans, both internally and externally.

“Transparency is one of our key values”, says Luke Pigott, CEO at PhiX. “It was critical for us to be open with the team about how we planned to operate in the weeks ahead. Being transparent and open builds trust and cohesion. Enabling us to problem solve in the face of adversity.”

2 – Preparing for the pace of change

Whether a business experiences a surge or a lull in demand during the Coronavirus crisis, your IT systems and leaders need to prepare. If customer questions and concerns on orders are likely to increase, building capacity for self-service via chatbots, apps and email can help manage the frequently asked questions. Freeing up your customer service teams to handle more complex queries.

If you require more compassion in the circumstances, then virtual meetings or phone calls are needed, which is especially paramount in the B2B and education sector.

Individuals switching to virtual conferences or video is on the rise and enables a broader, more global audience than the classroom facilitates! An example of this is Joe Wicks PE Class, which reached nearly 1 million people this morning globally.

The need to adapt products to meet current demand is critical as we have seen with Zara, the fast-fashion brand. Who announced that they would donate face masks and hospital gowns for Coronavirus patients and healthcare workers in Spain amid the shortage caused by the pandemic. Sharp, the Japanese electronics manufacturer, has converted one of its factories to make face masks. Showing the ability to shift physical and digital resources in support of the global crisis. Perfume-makers, including Givenchy and Christian Dior, have switched production to make hand sanitisers.

3 – Is this the new normal?

Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner says “Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”

No business processes are perfect, but when multiple issues arise, it delays projects and causes financial risk. Having a continuous process improvement plan to review operations will highlight bottlenecks. Ensuring you are proactively managing processes and methods.

It’s no good sticking plasters over the gaps in your workflow as we’re going to be in this for an unknown length of time.

Some changes may be incremental, a small change that can be applied to a process to make things run smoothly. Give your team a place to share these suggestions and review them regularly.

Breakthrough improvement projects are more significant changes that yield business-altering results, they can take longer to implement but will drive considerable return. At PhiX, we help companies review their business processes to work through these projects to streamline their operations.

4 – Marketing in uncertain times

Getting the balance right between promotion and cost-cutting is a difficult one.

The rapid repositioning of the government strategy to manage the spread of the Coronavirus signals a change that dramatically alters all our lives. For businesses, the full impact is still unknown, and for many, the challenge will be surviving.

Costs, product lines, supply chain and headcount, will be carefully examined as well as marketing spends and strategies. Marketing can appear an expense to cut in downturns. But when the economy starts to pick up again, the ones that will thrive are those that balance operational efficiency with strategic investment, with marketing being a key element.

Progressive companies stay closely connected to customer needs—a powerful filter through which to make investment decisions.

What new marketing strategies can you adopt to ensure your business not only survives the pandemic but comes out stronger?

"It's only when we get kicked down that we see what we are made of. It's easy to be positive when everything is going well, but the heart of all great endeavours is the ability to stagger back to our feet and keep moving forward, however grim it gets."

Bear Grylls

5 – Community makes us stronger

Being part of the solution involves supporting your community, whether it’s geographic or industry-specific. Together we are more robust and calling on others to help you is vital to short-term problem solving and long-term success.

Salesforce Chair and CEO Marc Benioff shared that to support the global response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; Salesforce is providing a COVID-19 Response Package. The pack offers free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centres, and care management teams for health systems affected by Coronavirus.

What action can you take to support your local or industry community to aid the fight against the virus?

6 – Resourcing for the short-term

Agile planning of your most valuable resource is critical at a time like this. Having a long-term plan will work as an overview to keep you focused but being able to plan, track and forecast your team’s time will keep you moving at speed. Precursive’s resource management product allows you to find the right people for projects, allocate work quicker and balance workloads for your team. They are also working closely with Salesforce to bring out a community-based product to support remote teams.

An example of this on a large scale is the U.K. government’s appeal on Tuesday for 250,000 “people in good health” to help its health service cope with the coronavirus outbreak. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on the same day that 11,788 retired NHS staff had agreed to come back to work to help tackle the crisis.

At PhiX, we are offering our consultancy services to clients to support healthcare and manufacturing organisations when they need it most. By pulling together our best resources, we will be strong enough to see this through.

7 – Practical and social solutions for remote working

Did you know research shows a lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?  So make time to check in on colleagues, friends, family and neighbours regularly.

If you are used to working from home, then there’s no change to your work set up. But for many, adapting and learning to communicate virtually is a steep learning curve.

Practical solutions like Quip for collaboration, Google Hangout for team chats, and Zoom for video conferencing are rising as the winning solutions. For digital documents, e-signatures with Conga makes contract management faster and more simplified. Salesforce Trailhead provides free learning resources on working remotely, as does LinkedIn Learning.

Quip combines documents and collaboration so that wherever we are, you can share and align ideas, update communications and stay in the loop with discussions. Quip Starter will be available for free to any Salesforce customer or non-profit organisation through September 30, 2020.

“Our ability to socialise has been degraded,”

Says Jonathan Corrie, CEO of Precursive who has introduced ‘Wine Wednesday’ with the team as a space to unwind with colleagues. “Whether it’s an alcoholic drink or not, the idea is to connect socially, just like you would in a wine bar or outside of the workplace. The team also has a daily nonsense call to chat and hang out with staff members and share whatever is on their mind.”

With many approaching the end of their first week of social isolation, what have you learnt about your employee needs? About the needs of your community and your industry to cope with the current crisis? What issues have come up repeatedly or do you see as potential risks to your business workflow?

Get in touch if you need any support with your Salesforce CPQ or Billing processes pre or post-implementation. Or if you would like to learn more about the products that can help make remote working more streamlined.

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