Technology Fluence

The Right Finance Tools for the Job: 4 Decision Criteria for Success

Sponsored by Fluence

Choosing the right technology is a big decision that not only impacts the finance process, but can also significantly impact employee efficiency and satisfaction. Here's 4 decision criteria for success.

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The Great Resignation has forced finance teams to re-evaluate team structure, functional roles, and technology needed to support growing business needs under increased pressure of the current macroeconomic environment. Choosing the right solutions to support mission critical finance functions is a big decision that not only impacts the finance process, but can also significantly impact employee efficiency and frankly, satisfaction. Picking the wrong technology can be quite costly to organizations, not just in the form of dollars out, but more importantly in time spent on implementation - and in employee satisfaction and efficiency.  

According to a recent research study, 67% of CFOs feel paralyzed by the number of decisions and volume of choices they need to make. This is not limited to standard decisions about financial management. More than half, or 57% of CFOs surveyed, are also leading digital transformation efforts within their organization. Businesses are relying on their finance and accounting teams to offer them quicker access to trustworthy data through the consolidation, close and reporting process to help them steer through uncertain economic and geopolitical headwinds. Yet other research revealed that 65% of finance and accounting professionals say their organizations' controllership function is either not prepared or is only somewhat prepared to meet future demands

Here are some guidelines to help you ensure your team is selecting the right technology to support your process and team.  

  1. Scope The Full Breadth Of Feature Capabilities That Matter

Typically, there is a very specific and compelling reason for finance teams to evaluate software solutions, and it’s easy to bring a narrow lens of criteria to the process. Finance teams should think of this as an opportunity to dream a little, looking at the functionality that will meet your current needs and those that may come up as your firm continues to grow. 

For instance, some of the most burning issues could be integrating data from multiple locations and subsidiaries, or consolidating and reporting financial results across multiple hierarchies.  

Over time, though, you may also want to think about how your potential solution can streamline the dissemination of financial data into board books, dashboards and other forms of reporting to help key stakeholders. The right product should meet your needs of today, but have the flexibility to grow with your organization.  

  1. Assess Current And Future Data Complexity

Ask yourself (and your vendors): what will offer a seamless way to bring together both financial and non-financial data to create a more comprehensive picture of business performance? Why non-financial data? Because you want to be able to support company-wide planning, where line-of-business leaders and their teams can adapt models to reflect their specific goals and allow them to easily collaborate with other functional groups.  

Consider variables such as having to contend with multiple languages, multiple currencies and any planned M&As or growth tactics will affect the chart of accounts you’ll need to manage. 

And of course, all this should come with strong security and a complete audit trail. Data integrity is not a nice-to-have. It’s essential. 

  1. Determine The Degree Of Finance Ownership

Given the technical nature of ERP and similar enterprise-grade software, it has traditionally been up to IT departments to procure and make changes to the technologies used by finance departments. Cloud-based platforms today should require less oversight and intervention by the CIO’s team, however. Instead, accounting and FP&A groups should steer the overall roadmap for which new features should be turned on (and when), as well as any changes to business processes like the monthly close. 

A good example is reporting: modern platforms mean an end to the days where IT had to help finance teams develop reports. Instead, self-service reporting capabilities should support the development of ad-hoc reporting so the company can respond to changes with intelligence and speed.  

  1. Ensure the technology can scale at the same pace as your organization

Technology decisions are difficult because they need to be as “forward-looking” as possible. Whether it’s an all-in-one or best of breed tool, the technology should position employees to focus more on the tasks that make the best use of their time, experience and expertise. The right solution should also create greater standardization and consistency as it offers more trustworthy data for the business’s strategic use. 

Discuss whether the solutions on your shortlist will allow for ongoing development of more sophisticated features tied to user needs. Explore the ease with which a platform can work with related solutions and technologies. Aim for a product that has the ability to answer increasingly complex questions. 

Taking the time to weigh all the options will mean the difference between a finance leader who succeeds in 2023, and one who finds themselves . . . behind the eight ball. 

Use this buyer’s guide to find the consolidation and close solution you need.