The role of the CFO is shifting. After years of traditional cost management responsibilities, companies are calling upon their CFOs to move beyond tallying last quarter’s numbers to helping the business identify and pursue new strategic opportunities to drive growth.
CFOs face a steep challenge: the economy is increasingly volatile and technology is advancing faster than ever. In response, the C-suite is revising its business priorities. Between 2011 and 2014, top executive concerns shifted from cost optimization and navigating government regulation to less tangible factors such as human capital, operational excellence, and corporate brand reputation. Only the desire to innovate remained constant.
As a result, the responsibilities of the finance organization continue to evolve. Within three years, 90% of senior finance decision makers expect to produce additional reports on forecasting, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility. Each of these deliverables requires expanding existing reporting processes or creating new ones—a task which many organizations need to improve upon.
This improvement can be difficult, and within finance it is often hampered by organizational obstacles, disparate systems and data sources, regulatory uncertainty, and evolving economic policy. As Joseph Fanutti, CFO of Allied Global, says of his own organization’s challenges, “Finance operated its own silo, HR its own, operations its own. There was a lack of consistency in terms of how we viewed the business.” He recalls that “Numbers were always challenged, no one could agree on metrics, and people couldn’t agree on what actions to take going forward.”
To adapt, almost half of senior finance executives see their finance organization growing to include analysts with a broader and deeper range of skills. Others are focusing on improving the bottom line by establishing new cost efficiencies and risk management strategies.
But decision makers know that adding new talent and raising the bottom line isn’t enough. Ninety-six percent of US senior finance executives agree they need to extract greater value from their financial and operating data to gain insights and create growth. While these executives know their employees need access to data to make informed decisions, real-time data has been challenging. To bridge the gap, CFOs are turning to cloud-based solutions.
Allied Global’s challenges
At Allied Global, strategic uncertainty and incomplete data were symptoms of a larger problem: lack of unification between HR, operations, and finance. Managers needed to make financial and people decisions in concert, yet traditional systems stored this information independently. This separation created multiple versions of the same underlying data and complicated analysis. According to Fanutti, “Our people metrics and our financial metrics work hand-in-hand. Profitability means just as much to an operations manager as turnover. So understanding the correlation between those two is very important.”
Workday’s cloud-based system offered the right solution for Allied Global’s challenges. Fanutti describes the Workday solution, with its unified system for finance and HR, as “transformational” because “everyone speaks the same language. Everyone looks at the same numbers, everyone agrees to the same metrics, everyone prioritizes the same way.”
After deploying Workday, Allied Global saw 16% drop in employee turnover and a 50% reduction in staffing costs. Fanutti also witnessed a dramatic decline in the time it took his department to prepare financial data—Workday’s technology took two weeks off of their year-end audit alone. The time saved is now spent on analysis, which Fanutti says, “is allowing us to use data to drive future business decisions.”
With advanced tools that unify enterprise data, provide powerful reporting and simplify data analysis, Workday is empowering CFOs to embrace their expanding roles and drive multinational enterprise growth from within.
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This article was produced on behalf of Workday by the Quartz Marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.