Having the right data is the first step; making it usable is the next. Because we can no longer expect that everyone using the system is a back-office system expert, analytics have to be easy to define and understand and simple to access. And because everyone is mobile, relevant analytics must be available anywhere at any time and on any device. Such tools must be designed from the beginning for delivery on mobile devices as standard, not as an optional and a chargeable extra.
The days of static plans that last a year or more are gone, and to support the evolving needs of the business, planning must be an ongoing activity. And in order to be effective, planning and forecasting needs to be combined with transactions, controls, reporting, and analytics in a single system that offers a single source of truth, a single set of data, a single security model, a single control framework, a single set of processes, and a single user experience. That’s why Workday has built planning and forecasting into the core system. Without this forward-looking approach, organizations run the risk of their plans becoming dated and redundant virtually as soon as they are produced.
That leads us to the third partnership attribute—agility. Legacy systems are inherently rigid, turning many otherwise very good finance departments into business prevention teams, because they’re unable to cause the change necessary to support new business initiatives. They need modern tools with the ability to change organization structures, business processes, and even data models in minutes. Essentially, a finance system should be capable of converting a finance department into a change enablement partner to help the business rise to challenges and take advantage of opportunities, whatever they may be.
The journey to finance transformation isn’t easy, but it’s certainly doable. It requires an understanding of why previous efforts of failed, and reducing time spent on transaction processing. It also requires a rethink in terms of governance, compliance, and control, and how finance approaches this from a technology perspective. Finally, finance must become a more strategic business partner, by delivering insights from the right data, the ability to plan, and adapt to new opportunities as they arise. Only then can financial transformation take place.
(Read Mark Nittler’s four-part blog series on financial transformation starting here.)