For the professional services CFO, technology is both an asset and an obstacle. Digital transformation is disrupting how traditional professional services organizations do business, writes Marcus Fischer in Digitalist
magazine. “The traditional model of billing consultants on a time and materials basis is being challenged by customers who expect engagements to be tied to specific business outcomes and by leaner new entrants to market with digital business models,” he adds. At the same time, professional services CFOs are being asked to take on new roles and provide more strategic insight into the business. “They are being asked the question, ‘How do we grow…and how do we become more profitable?’” Bill Daisy, a managing director at accounting firm CBIZ Tofias, says in a CFO podcast
. “[They’re] being asked to expand their role and responsibility to include involvement in what I would call COO-, CEO-, or CIO-type responsibilities…which includes strategic planning, growth, risk management, regulatory compliance, technology infrastructure, benefits, personnel-related matters, and acquisition due diligence.” Specifically, some new responsibilities include:
- Making sure capital is available and allocated to new opportunities
- Identifying and removing growth restraints
- Using data analysis to reduce uncertainty and enable decision-making
- Identifying and tracking potential market disruptions
- Providing the intelligence to evaluate underperforming operations.
Technology: friend or foe?
To excel in their new roles and responsibilities, today’s CFOs must become tech-savvy
. They must embrace both the disruptive nature and the limitless opportunities that technology presents. However, Deloitte’s third-quarter 2017 CFO Signals survey
paints a less-than-enthusiastic picture about CFOs’ attitudes toward technology. “On the whole, application of new technologies appears to be in its early stages,” says Greg Dickinson
, managing director, Deloitte LLP, who leads the survey. When CFOs were asked about their use of new technologies to improve finance efficiency, controls, and analytical and decision support, less than 20% of CFOs said they have aggressively pursued improvements in any one area.
Why CFOs need a “digital core”
Technology can become the professional services CFO’s most powerful ally. Fischer writes of several technologies that can help professional services keep ahead, including what he calls a digital core. “With intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, CFOs can create a digital core to simplify finance processes,” he notes. “A digital core can help reinvent business models and drive new revenues by instantly connecting people, devices, and business networks. For example, an intelligent ERP can help streamline accounts payable, invoice management, cash and liquidity management, and financial planning and analysis. You can eliminate IT complexity and create a flow of real-time information with a digital core that helps you run a live, digital business.”
Make smarter decisions with real-time reporting
This “flow of real-time information” gives CFOs much-needed data insight into performance at the company, practice, and finance levels. A cloud-based financial management/ERP system such as Sage Intacct
delivers real-time reporting via easy, intuitive dashboards, giving CFOs a quick overview of the operational and financial performance of the business. The software can also analyze business performance according to their organization’s unique drivers. The right partner can help you harness the power of technology for your professional services organization. The experts at Altruas
understand the unique needs of your industry—we’ll help you select, implement, and adapt the right software solution that addresses your business requirements today and remain competitive tomorrow. Give us a call
to get started.