We’ve all lived in uncertain times over the past two years. Markets have fluctuated and CFOs have been constantly endeavouring to make sense of an uncertain outlook. Deloitte’s recent Finance 2025 Revisited report notes that the pandemic has accelerated remote working and business innovation; also that a high level of business capital has been raised in 2021: “at the close of Q1 2021, non-financials in the S&P 500 held more than $2 trillion in cash reserves”, suggesting that growth is back on the menu again.
The report gave some helpful indications of the ways in which finance is changing and what might be in store for 2022 and beyond. Financial transformation is upon us: Finance is set to be more strategic than ever, and Finance teams will be called upon to provide insights, evaluate probable outcomes and drive business growth going forward.
It may seem obvious, but the future of Finance is automated. The Deloitte report suggests that 100% of non-strategic financial processes will be automated, allowing for greater focus on value-added tasks. Automation should also be focused on cost saving – full visibility of spend means tighter control of finances and compliance. Automation will also be expanding further from simply making expense claims easier and into analytics, insights and predictive modelling, as well as redesigning processes end-to-end, offering greater visibility and transparency. Our eBook, How Finance Automation Helps You Drive Competitive Advantage, takes a tour of Concur Invoice and Concur Expense, and explains how they utilise automation to help you gain visibility into spend and cash flow data so you can deliver strategic insights.
Once a solid automated system is in place, Finance teams will be better able to offer the strategic value needed for finance transformation. Not only will time be freed up to focus on more tactical future planning, but the analytical capabilities of the right kind of automated system should provide the insights necessary to achieve business growth. Extensions to spend management solutions will provide the visibility into areas of your business that need attention as well as adding controls that will scale as you grow. Our checklist, 5 Ways to Get Further Faster by Maximising Your Investment, provides some proven best practices to help you move forward. The Deloitte report also urges C-suite executives to “Ensure Finance has the right data foundation, technology, and talent to take on an expanded role”, as their expertise is about to become vital to organisational success.
The Way We Work
It seems clear that remote and hybrid working are here to stay, so Finance teams will be working with a whole new model. The lower on-costs of remote working are a great benefit, but accommodating it requires specific planning. The Deloitte report warns against automatically returning to pre-pandemic operating models: this is the perfect time to re-evaluate current processes and overhaul them, considering new ways of working. We conducted a report, Growing out of the Pandemic, which provides an analysis of trends identified by UK respondents and outlines how implementing better processes helps organisations move towards growth. Both reports emphasise that breaking out of silos and more cross-functional collaboration will be key to future-proofing and ensuring better crisis management in the years to come.
Facts and Figures
Whilst vital now, data will be increasingly essential to business growth, providing insights and helping to support and inform predictions. Finance teams will need to ‘clean’ data to ensure its integrity and efficacy: the right data will help Finance take on that strategic role and advise on improving profit margins. Increased visibility of data is a major benefit of SAP Concur solutions. This information sheet Unearth the Power of Your Data, explores how you can utilise spend data to reach your goals and springboard your business towards success. It further enforces comments from the Deloitte report which suggest that data should be seen “as an asset” and therefore requires proper investment – both time and resources – in identifying and investing in the right finance data model for the organisation.
As Finance teams receive more demand for their strategic expertise, there will be a need for new talent with new roles created. Deloitte predict that data scientists will become invaluable for Finance teams, for data integration and analysis. More digitally-focused roles in configuring and customising software are likely to arise in Finance departments to support greater automation; Finance will need to be more reactive to changing needs and recruit the right talent as the business evolves. On top of these new roles, businesses should be mindful of the way they recruit, as behaviours in top talent are changing. Our eBook, How Do Recruits View You, gives you some tips for streamlining the hiring process.
Whether 2022 is likely to be as unsettled as 2021 and 2020 still remains to be seen, but it seems certain that automation and finance will be underpinning many aspects of business strategy for the foreseeable future. If you’re looking for a complete automated spend management system that offers analytics, insights, business intelligence and predictive modelling to support your organisational growth, SAP Concur solutions can help.