In times when the economy is volatile globally, the role of a CFO is of utmost importance in helping the CEO make high-stake decisions. By necessity, today’s CFO is positioned as a player in the strategic dialogue in the C-suite and boardroom.
To earn a strategic seat at the table, the modern CFO needs a technology stack that can eliminate the hassles of data wrangling so that they can focus on growth initiatives. In this article, we cover what it takes to build the CFO tech stack capable of transforming ordinary data into actionable insights.
Challenges hampering the CFO’s productivity
Complicated tech stack
CFOs use a wide range of tools to gather information from multiple sources, leading to manual errors that can have a serious impact on the business. Often, data sources do not integrate, which hampers data flow.
Even worse, this lack of integration blocks alignment between finance, sales, HR, and other functions.
What this means: to update the company’s forecast for the newly hired head of sales, for example, the finance team has to send a series of emails across the sales and HR departments.
Lastly, the existing tools don’t allow multiple users across the team to contribute and collaborate, since they are solely built for the finance team. Complicated, legacy software also often needs a dedicated resource well-versed in operating that specific software.
Data is stale and hard to access from multiple sources
The problem with spreadsheets as the central repository for financial data is that it gives finance teams a backward-facing view, typically 2-3 weeks after the month’s end. With this lag, the CFO has difficulty assessing cash burn, revenue, and expense in real time. Most companies cannot afford to wait for 6 weeks to figure out if they are going to run out of cash.
Also, the building blocks have limitations in the way of predictive forecasting and benchmarking against competitors. In addition, retrieving this data, cleaning it, and converting it into a user-friendly report requires SQL experience, which the finance team may not necessarily possess.
Manual data processing leads to errors
The head of finance drives their organizations to close the books, report results, and deliver forecasts. Many finance professionals spend too much time sorting and organizing data instead of analyzing it, due to manual data processing. To make matters worse, all this information that is painstakingly pulled into reports and data entry is still largely performed by hand. Manual data processing at every stage is rife with errors and problems.
As a result, strategic tasks such as financial planning and analysis and generating timely and meaningful insights take a back seat.
Alignment between departments is hard to achieve
In many companies, there is poor collaboration and communication between CFOs and the heads of other departments. Finance is often unable to offer real performance insights to help departments improve their results. To widen the gap, other department heads lack crucial information on how the decisions made by the finance team influence overall profitability.
So, instead of working together to plan and forecast, finance and other departments resort to negotiations.
CFOs need a platform that allows fast and confident decisions despite large volumes of data
CFOs, finance teams, and FP&A departments are custodians of enterprise data. In forward-thinking organizations, CFOs now play a more active role in converting their organization’s data challenges into data advantages and insights.
As organizations process a large amount of data, CFOs need a platform that gives them a granular, timely, and enterprise-wide view of the data processing from disparate sources. Equipped with these insights, the CFO is in a strong position to help the organization adjust to market changes, maintain compliance, manage working capital, and grow revenue.
The modern CFO’s tech stack
Financial planning and analytics platform
Data is crucial. But it is much more important to harness the power of technology to turn this data into actionable insights for enhanced financial planning and performance.
Financial planning software, as an integral part of the CFO’s software tech stack, allows the business to access advanced modeling capabilities, streamline reporting, and create accurate rolling financial forecasts. Finance teams use FP&A software to analyze the organization’s financial health to forecast its future. The CFO then shares this critical information with leadership.
Here’s why integrated financial planning and analytics software Pigment is an indispensable part of next-generation CFO’s tech stack:
- Consolidates and aggregates large amounts of data from all applications
- Builds dynamic models within hours
- Collects inputs from different departments and sources, and connects business cases across the company
- Flexibly runs what-if scenarios to plan for contingencies
- Allows cross-departmental collaboration
- Creates stunning visualizations for enhanced data storytelling
Billing and payments
As a result of the complexity of enterprise contract terms and recurring billing scenarios, next-generation billing and payment platforms help companies manage their revenue operations.
The centralized command center allows for managing customer subscriptions, issuing invoices, and tracking revenue.
In addition, the rise of usage-based pricing models has increased the billing infrastructure complexities and challenges.
The software connects to the company’s bank accounts, thereby helping the finance teams understand their cash position, debt, and revenue movements in real time. Additionally, billing and payments software can send and receive payments on an automated basis and help to reconcile payments.
Stripe and Chargebee are two notable billing and payment systems that give a holistic view of the organization’s cash cycle, thereby influencing liquidity planning.
ERP and accounting systems
Along with the core responsibilities of financial reporting, accounting, planning, and compliance, the modern-day CFO plays a prominent role in capital allocation, headcount planning, and more.
ERP and accounting systems like Netsuite, Xero, and Sage Intact automate accounting processes. The single fully integrated system slices and dices data with multi-dimensional reporting, consolidates all entities in minutes, automates redundant accounting tasks, and frees up the FP&A team’s time to focus on high-value work.
The fact that accounting and ERP software are cloud-based and can be configured as per business needs and reporting without custom programming makes it a part of the CFO’s tech stack.
Using these systems, finance and accounting teams can collaborate better since both these departments are charged with aligning the company’s strategic and financial objectives.
The CRM brings sales, marketing, and customer teams together and aligns the organization around shared goals.
CRM software such as Pipedrive, HubSpot, Dynamics 365, and Salesforce marry customer relationship management data with ERP and HRIS to get relevant insights into your business. By integrating granular insights that can impact sales performance, they facilitate the planning of sales performance accurately. Finance and RevOps teams can view the greatest customer opportunities and segments by performing customer cohort analysis.
On one hand, businesses are becoming data-driven in the way they handle finances, especially when it comes to spending. On the other hand, finance has a tough time chasing accurate information ranging from spend approvals to expense reporting.
Spend management solutions provide finance teams with tools to automate, digitize, and consolidate spend management processes into the organization.
The benefits of using spend management solutions such as Spendesk and Airbase in your CFO’s tech stack are:
- Greater visibility and transparency over spending by monitoring and improving the cash flow.
- Categorize purchases and maintain compliance for taxes, auditing, and supplier contracts.
- Simplify approval processes within the organization and provides finance and FP&A departments with real-time data regarding purchases and procurements.
- Data-driven business spending.
Cash flow management solutions
Cash flow management systems manage the flow of incoming and outgoing funds in a business. The software uses data such as past financial and operational data to help the companies stay cash positive and forecast future cash flow. Usually, FP&A departments use cash management software accompanied by other accounting and finance software such as business planning software, invoice management, and so on.
The benefits of using Agicap as a part of the CFO’s software tech stack are:
- Improve visibility with reliable cash flow forecasts
- Create and monitor cash flow forecast to anticipate future
- Automate cash flow analysis
Predictions for the future of FP&A
- As finance enters a new era of digital transformation, the FP&A team will have to take on the role of a data scientist. The FP&A department needs to have the ability to work with data including data sourcing and wrangling, building models and forecasts, communicating actionable insights to the leadership, and enabling confident decisions.
- A strategic finance business partnership can provide insights based on the industry, macroeconomic trends, and competitor dynamics to support the company’s operational and financial success.
- To steer the organization toward success, especially during the present economic downturn, the CFO will need to display:
- Strong risk assessment skills
- Ability to quickly adjust processes and strategies
- Create recruitment plans to focus on revenue generation
The right CFO tech stack tells the story behind the numbers
In conclusion, the CFO tech stack should capture the company’s financial health from every angle by integrating with the existing systems. That said, the CFO’s role has evolved from being a mere collector of data to interpreting the data for deeper insights and better strategy using underlying data.
Business planning software Pigment empowers finance and FP&A teams and CFOs by giving a full-spectrum view of the business, streamlining analysis, and enabling continuous planning.
Book a demo to discover how Pigment simplifies your tech stack.