In-house finance teams are continuing to move away from a base-level, traditional number-crunching focus and into a more strategic and business-focused advice, according to Matt Goss, Australia and New Zealand managing director of Concur.
While this shift can benefit the organisation they work for and help finance leaders demonstrate ongoing relevance in a changing business landscape, it requires a considered focus and strategic approach, Mr Goss said.
“Being strategic means spending time on planning and driving business actions, rather than on reporting and compliance tactics,” Mr Goss said.
“To achieve this, finance leaders need to know what issues to focus on, and they need to have the right data and business intelligence to gain insights they can act on,” he believes.
According to Mr Goss, there are four key ways accountants and finance teams can evolve to stay ahead of the curve.
Firstly, a strong understanding of data, and how to effectively analyse it to achieve relevant outcomes, is crucial. On several occasions, Smithink founding director David Smith has told Accountants Daily that drawing meaningful insight from data, and establishing relevant patterns, is a challenge for professional services.
Secondly, embracing relevant forms of technology for their purposes is essential, particularly to automate manual tasks which do not require high-level insight.
Thirdly, they must learn how to collaborate and communicate, as well as develop strong relationships throughout the organisation — as opposed to being restricted to their own division.
Fourthly, given the rate of digital disruption in Australian businesses, being mentally prepared to embrace and actively assess new approaches and technologies is critical.
“Finance teams that embrace their changing role, augment existing skills, and experiment with new technologies and approaches will reap the benefits,” Mr Goss said.
“In other words, finance teams will become the enabler of intelligent information for strategic decision-making across all aspects of the organisation.”