With some finance leaders juggling over 50 different tools, technology is leaving them overwhelmed and ill-equipped to lead their teams through uncertain times.
Software overload means most CFOs stick to manual processes
An influx of finance tools has caused more problems than solutions for CFOs with many sticking to manual processes that leave less time for high-value strategic work, according to online payments company Stripe.
In a global survey of 1,700 CFOs, 63 per cent said they juggled more than 10 different systems to track their company’s financials while one-quarter of those in enterprise companies used over 50 systems.
However, the array of systems available tended to complicate financial management for CFOS and the more systems used, the more difficult it was to manage the various datasets they generated.
The result was hours of manual work to reconcile discrepancies. Almost half the respondents said their finance teams spent more than 10 hours each month addressing this issue and over one-third reported having to reopen their books at least once a quarter because of errors.
Stripe said this additional work for finance teams slowed down their decision-making and could even damage a business’s credibility.
Stripe ANZ managing director Karl Durrance said CFOs did not have the right mix of tools to lead their companies through “uncertain times”.
“Many CFOs have essential data living across dozens of disparate tools, requiring hours of manual reconciling across these various systems,” he said.
“In order to play their role successfully, CFOs need to have the right tools at their fingertips, powered by the right tech so they can make effective financial decision making.”
Almost 50 per cent of Australian CFOs said they chose to manually handle three-quarters or more of their back-office operations and financial tasks.
Respondents said their finance teams spent 60 per cent of their time working on back-end operations but would prefer to focus on tasks such as data analysis, strategic planning, introducing business models and developing partnerships.
“While all jobs have elements of non-strategic work, almost half of the finance leaders’ teams we surveyed handle 75 per cent or more of their back-office operations manually. This results in significantly fewer hours available for strategic projects that most impact the bottom line,” the Stripe report said.
Additionally, Australian CFOs encountered inefficiencies when manually running their financial operations, with one-quarter saying it would take one working day or longer to pull insights for business decisions, compared to just 12 per cent globally.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents also said that manual processes and having to train employees to use different software systems made it harder for them to retain talent.
Most finance leaders said they wanted to consolidate software programs in the next one to two years to deal with the issue and almost 50 per cent wanted to focus on centralising data to extract more accurate insights.
While 40 per cent of CFOs reported being excited about automating financial functions, they also stressed the importance of human intervention and control. The survey found that similar proportions of respondents were interested in streamlining monthly reporting, data entry and bookkeeping through automation, but when asked which financial operations they preferred to run manually, they selected the same tasks.
“This suggests that finance leaders envision their teams using automation to improve manual workflows but not eliminate human intervention,” the report said.
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