Stating the obvious here when I say, year 2020 will be remembered in the history of mankind, as one of the world’s most ghastly pandemics, with COVID-19 crippling the most powerful of global economies, including India.
We cannot deny the fact that organisations are in a rush to get back in shape, tide over the difficult situation and sustain the blip. However, while doing so, it is critical to set out with a well-thought through strategy to emerge from this crisis.
Moreover, in the new world order, where remote working has become the much discussed ‘new normal’, every department in an organisation must rethink and redesign their strategy to continue supporting the business appropriately.
Be it Finance, IT, Sales & Marketing to Administration – every function is designing & restructuring to cater to the basic as well as macro needs of the organisation. The current situation has forced all the functions to improvise, with Finance at the center of it all, in one way or another. In fact, successful business recovery will undoubtedly rest on the shoulders of an astute finance framework which assimilates itself horizontally across the board – by effectively optimization of costs, conserving resources and ensuring adequate cash flow is available to restart and sustain the business in a dynamic business landscape.
To my mind, there are some clear call outs in doing so:
Technology – New lease of life
Technology has been oxygen in connecting and running the world, when it went into a complete lockdown. Maintaining constant internal as well as external communications has been possible due to technology integrations across functions. Today’s state of the art technology solutions have enabled many financial processes to continue despite physical absence. Having cohesive enterprise systems allows the finance department to quickly process and analyse data in providing actionable insights enabling efficient decision-making.
Finance also plays a pivotal role in creating purpose-built solutions for every business process within the organisation. These processes when seamlessly connected for end-to-end alignment increases agility – within finance and with operational LOBs including (to name a few) Human Resources, Supply Chain and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Additionally, while the Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) integrate different processes, the availability of real time information in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world is equally important where “DATA” is the new Gold. This can be achieved through “everywhere ERP” (Mobile, Cloud, Social Media) which provides as faster, scalable and reliable solution enabling faster management and optimization of costs.
In fact, within finance as well, all verticals should adopt one common platform to enable calls at diverse levels, addressing all needs in one go, across financial and operational planning, consolidation, reporting, and analysis of processes. This platform should enable best practices that can be built-in and are well-suited for the organisation’s specific needs.
Another disruption can be brought in by the emergence of , which will hold great potential in redefining the business of Finance . These proficiencies will embed enhanced capabilities in organisations to drive better decision-making through analytical insights and automating manual processes. The day to day financial activities rely deeply on digital workflows and databases, hence the financial function becomes the perfect front-runner in incorporating and benefiting from advance technologies.
Corporates to invest in advance technology in 2021
As per a report by Ernst & Young, about 58% of CFOs believe that combining state-of-the-art technology with process improvement will be a major focus for the future of the Finance function.
As a matter of fact, prompt, accurate and comprehensive financial insights can certainly contribute immensely towards business recovery, withstanding a crisis. Any uncertain and unforeseen situation can be avoided if Finance departments espouse the right technology at the right time. Technology amalgamated with scale and Real Time analytics will play a defining role.
The pandemic has catalysed the technology adoption across industries – capability enhancement, with technology as the key driver of change is the way forward. This disruption will transform what we, as finance professionals do, and will revolutionize how Finance SOPs of the future will be deployed. Investing in predictive analytics, a mobile financial process support system and even say something as disruptive as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – to overcome unforeseen barriers, will be opportunity areas for 2021.
2020 will be remembered as one of the grayest yet most eventful years in history, as it forced each one of us to stay put at our homes, while presenting hard learnings each day – rethinking, adapting, applying and improvising. As thefamous American politician, diplomat and Former United States Secretary of State – Colin Luther Powell, defined success after failure beautifully with his words, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
About the Author: –Shray Mehandiratta – Director Finance, IPM India Wholesale Trading Private Limited, (country affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI)