Historically, the role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has been described simply as the head of accounting. With the advent of new technologies as companies transition into the digital era, the CFO position has evolved into an even more strategic role with an eye on improving company performance. Technology has given the CFO the ability to do more with less, drive strategy throughout the business, access improved insight into new markets and opportunities, become a better administrator of governance, and meet new accounting standards.
Do More with Less
Technology has opened new possibilities for accessing data anywhere and anytime. Most software applications are now delivered through the cloud, requiring only a browser and active data connection to use. Business tools can be accesses at the office, home or even through a mobile device. Cloud applications are great for small and midsize businesses because require fewer resources, as they don’t require maintenance by large IT departments and they typically cost less than traditional solutions over a three-year period with all upgrades, patches and new releases provided as part of the software. Finally, because cloud applications sync in real-time, they help streamline businesses by eliminating duplicate or redundant efforts.
Get Better Insights
More impactful insights is another benefit of cloud technology that helps CFOs take advantage of new markets and opportunities. With cloud business applications, fields can easily be added to help capture the right data. Those same fields can be included in any reports and run real time at the business level. Anyone in the organization can slice and dice data into a format that helps their business. With improved insight, the CFO can penetrate new markets and uncover new opportunities backed by real time data.
Cloud technologies provide CFO’s with real-time data to drive strategy throughout the organization from both a top down and bottom up approach. A CFO can review historical data to understand trends and to set targets and forecasts. Once the roadmap is set, the CFO can provide the right resources to drive the strategy from a top down approach and management teams can include their own recommendations from a bottom up perspective. By monitoring data as it updates instantly during execution, the CFO can help adjust and redirect strategy and teams more quickly than in the past.
Governance is key to any CFO, and cloud technology can help clarify and perfect business processes and records. Most cloud-based applications come with audit functionality to know what changes were performed by what person at what time. They allow for a segregation of duties that the correct person performed the correct process. These technologies improve financial and tax reporting providing external regulatory agencies the confidence in the data provided.
Similarly, cloud solutions can help CFO’s make sure their organizations are meeting the latest accounting standards. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) is the source of authoritative generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). One of the most recent standards is ASC 606 accounting for new revenue standards. The IASB and the FASB have jointly developed new revenue standards, IFRS 15/ASC 606 Revenue from Contracts with Customers, which will replace all existing IFRS and most all US GAAP revenue recognition requirements.