Matthew McManus, group head of finance at Ireland-based software company Kainos, highlighted the need to manage change and protect the culture of the organisation as major priorities as we emerge from the pandemic.
“The major thing is navigating a changing environment, and that means protecting our strategic objectives to attract, develop, and retain the best talent available,” said McManus. ”It’s about protecting our organisational culture and ensuring our new hires, graduates, senior, and entry-level staff can hit the ground running.”
For other businesses, such as Germany-based neobank N26, the pandemic meant a shift in the pace of digital acceleration both from a customer and an employee perspective. “In 2019, we were coming off the back of a period of hypergrowth, with 1,500 employees and 7 million customers in 25 markets,” said Arno Schleussner, N26 director, finance. “The lockdown may have ground other sectors to a halt, but it was the opposite for us. We saw an explosion in demand for online banking, especially on mobile devices, and not just early adopter customers. The big challenge for us was to accelerate our innovation once again and update our product range to meet the huge demand we were seeing.”
Pressing Accelerate on Finance Transformation
If finance transformation had been put on the back burner prior to the pandemic, then finance leaders have now pushed it to the top of their lists. In a report from KPMG, Patrick Fenton, leader of the Global Finance Center of Excellence with KPMG International, detailed the significance of digital transformation for today’s finance function, particularly in reducing costs.
“Cost is a big driver in our post-COVID-19 world. And businesses save on costs when things are done more efficiently," Fenton said. “With the data at your fingertips, you can make faster, more economic decisions. By definition, you are then also building in more resilience.”
This school of thought was backed by Kainos’ McManus in the Deloitte report. He believes that organisations with a head start on digital transformation have coped better during the pandemic and cited examples of his own company’s finance acceleration.
“The businesses who hadn’t started on their digital journey will have struggled to navigate the last 18 months, especially the early weeks when things were particularly volatile. We’ve been working on finance transformation for a few years now, so we were able to deliver for our customers and employees remotely without interruption,” he said. “We were able to use Workday Financial Management and Workday Adaptive Planning seamlessly, especially during that uncertain phase. I think many companies had a big shock when the lights went out if they hadn’t invested in digital before.”
Atlas Professionals is a Netherlands-based provider of recruitment and HR services, with a focus on the energy and marine sectors. When COVID-19 hit, the company was in the middle of its Workday deployment and had a tough decision to make—pause or carry on with the deployment. André Secrest, group controller at Atlas Professionals, explained the decision to accelerate the transformation project.