Why finance teams are coming out of the pandemic stronger than before
Business was hard the past year. Leaders across departments had to adjust processes and adapt to an unfamiliar landscape to stay afloat.
However, many businesses found that changes they were forced into effectively had a positive impact among departments and employees. This was particularly true for the finance function.
While business owners and CEOs are traditionally responsible for key strategic decision making and shaping business strategy, the bottom-line impact of the pandemic put finance leaders on the front lines.
CFOs took on increased responsibility among company decision makers, while their teams implemented new technology solutions that provided key visibility into business operations.
With difficult decisions to make and business models to rethink, finance teams played a critical role in ensuring that businesses not only survived but were prepared for the future.
In fact, recent research shows that this reliance on finance teams won’t disappear any time soon, with decision makers expecting CFOs to have more influence on the direction and success of their business compared to 2020.
As finance leaders have begun taking on this responsibility, they increasingly rely on technology to provide the transparency necessary to make the difficult but business-saving decisions through the pandemic.
Thank you, tech
During the pandemic, finance leaders proved their interdepartmental value, and leaned on technology solutions to do so. Over a quarter of finance teams attribute their cloud-based accounting software as their business’s “saving grace” during the pandemic.
Cloud-based technology provided finance leaders with complete visibility into real-time data, as leaders utilised insights from data and analytics to improve decision making and manage cash-flow seamlessly.
In fact, cloud accounting software proved so critical to success that 89% of businesses plan to continue using it once the pandemic is over.
Adoption of digital solutions gave CFOs the tools to not only help their business survive but thrive during the pandemic. The success of these tools since early 2020 has spurred a digital transformation revolution, with 77% of finance leaders reporting that their organisation plans to increase their budget for technology throughout 2021.
Finance professionals also extended their career skillsets significantly throughout the last year, as they worked more closely with their technology and with interdepartmental teams, improving their technical, management and leadership skills.
There are mixed signs about exactly when we will emerge from the pandemic. It is also clear that business will not be done the way it once was.
CFOs and their teams are not immune from these changes, but for them, these shifts represent opportunity: their success developing new skills and keeping business moving has offered more influence and input than they previously had. And, what’s more, research shows that finance leaders want to be more involved.
After more than a year in the pandemic, finance leaders feel they can have a bigger impact when it comes to strategic decision making, particularly around technology, customer service, marketing and strategic planning.
With a newfound confidence, and improving bottom lines to back them up, post-pandemic finance leaders are aware of the strategic value they can add to all aspects of the business and are situated to be more involved in company-wide decisions.
In the face of the pandemic, tested with prioritising the bottom line and keeping their company afloat, finance teams rose to the challenge and not only succeeded in the immediate but improved business operations for the long term.
Moving forward, successful businesses will continue to expand upon the technology solutions that proved to be their saving grace and lean on finance leaders to continue making strategic business decisions. The businesses that do so will reap the benefits.
About the author
Dan Miller leads the medium business segment for software company Sage. He has over 20 years’ experience in the cloud financial management industry.
Prior to Sage, Dan had a long career with financial software firm Intuit.