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The WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management Podcast, powered by PwC
The Finance function of most companies is currently undergoing a major transformation: from a mere administrator of figures and backwards-looking observer, to a business partner and enabler for the business of tomorrow. Times of crisis in particular require the Finance function to take on a more central and controlling role in the company than ever before.
“The future is becoming more important for finance departments than the past. Disruptive changes in numerous sectors and industries are making it essential to examine what might happen tomorrow, next year and in five years’ time.”
The CFO office is a place where crucial pieces of information on the company’s core business come together. The CFO is responsible for evaluating opportunities and risks created by external drivers, developing realistic scenarios and triggering specific measures throughout the firm. In terms of controlling, this means companies can only fulfil their core tasks if they are in a position to locate key opportunities and risks and proactively identify new paths.
This makes the CFO a quality controller and forward-looking planner – an authority that must be able to guarantee a secure future for the company in various different scenarios. Digital technology is enabling CFOs to meet this demand more effectively than ever before.
Making this paradigm shift requires a quantum leap on four levels: increased efficiency through automation; quicker reporting and responses to enquiries; fundamental developments in ways of working and presentation of information; and rapidly learning how to handle bulk data, with automated planning and forecasting playing a key role.
In our podcast "Leading Corporate Transformation" by WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management and PwC Germany, Prof. Dr. Serden Ozcan, Prof. Dr. Martin Glaum (both WHU) and Gori von Hirschhausen (PwC) provide authentic insights into transformation projects at a wide range of companies, described from different C-level perspectives of top European executives, highlighted with scientific findings.
Every transformation process is unique and tailored to the company’s starting point.
Integrated collaboration and a common vision are crucial success factors in a transformation like this – and our integrated finance transformation team can help ensure seamless integration of all your sub-projects across the whole value chain of a finance transformation. The best place to start with transforming your finance function will vary, depending on the status quo of your company. But one factor is common to all transformation projects: it’s time to start today – to transform your tomorrow.
When starting the transformation to Finance 4.0, there are several key questions to be answered: how should the finance function look like in the next two, five or ten years? What is state of the art? What is possible and how can it be achieved? For this individual journey, we develop together with our clients a customized “digital roadmap” tailored to the company’s needs. The complexity and design of this roadmap are largely determined by the company’s structure and the respective industry. Another important consideration before transforming a finance function from an administrator of figures to a strategic business partner is to define which tasks will be handled by the finance function in future For this purpose, we develop a target operating model (TOM) with you. This takes into account relevant dimensions– from process architecture and technology to your employees. The ultimate goal is rapid and comprehensive implementation of digital technologies, a common “digital level” for all employees and thus a finance function that efficiently and effectively serves the core business.
Click the link to find out how to make your finance function fit for the future.
Turning a finance function from an administrator of figures to a strategic business partner takes a lot more than just the best strategies, systems and tools: employees and managers are crucial for long-term success. On the one hand, they need to be inspired to actively shape their new roles in the organisation’s future profile; on the other hand, it’s vital that humans and machines can work together in harmony, and company management plays a leading role in promoting this. As the importance of digital tools in shaping the future of finance functions rises, so too does the importance of ensuring that humans are ultimately in control. Digital upskilling and development programmes tailored to specific user groups enable all concerned to develop the mindsets, skillsets and toolsets they need. Internal training can create completely new job profiles, such as digital architects, agile coaches and scrum masters.
Click the link to find out how we can guide you on your journey.
The future is becoming more important for CFOs than the past. Disruptive changes in numerous sectors and industries are making it essential to examine, in even more detail than before, what might happen tomorrow, next year and in five years’ time if companies are to succeed. Areas of focus include issues such as how the global crisis triggered by COVID-19 might change the macroeconomic and microeconomic environment, and which key factors might further affect business. Meanwhile, control structures must be able to provide information required here and now, starting by defining key questions for successful, forward-looking corporate management. These questions then need to be translated into measurable key performance indicators (KPIs), and their internal and external value drivers need to be analysed on a global level. Non-financial value drivers also need to be included. Using predictive analytics, this approach enables companies to make well-founded future predictions and allows high levels of automation in all management-related processes – planning, forecasting, reporting and consolidation.
Click the link to find out how we can support you on your journey towards truly data-driven decision-making and help you implement digital planning, reporting and consolidation.
When it comes to regulation and compliance, most companies tend to focus on regulatory requirements. What this means in practice is that regulatory requirements are met, but many other demands placed on companies by society are not factored into corporate strategy and processes. Hence, good corporate governance will be more dependent on societal, legal policy and capital market driven perceptions than today and just complying with regulatory requirements will not be sufficient.Companies will need to be able to achieve rapid, targeted integration of these requirements into their business processes. On top of this, they have to consider which tasks can be allocated to the various sections of their finance functions – e.g. tax, treasury. Non-financial factors are important in this process; they have been proven to have a positive effect on company success, reputation and access to finance.
Click the link to find out how you can both meet regulatory requirements and proactively manage your stakeholders.
The future is digital, but finance functions are still largely analogue: a joint survey by PwC and the Handelsblatt revealed that 53% of staff capacity in finance functions is used for manual tasks such as filling in spreadsheets, checking receipts and adapting reports. In order to become strategic business partners, finance functions need an organisational structure that takes an end-to-end view of processes and aims for holistic transactional excellence. This involves a significant and targeted increase of automation and integration of finance processes. Combined with in-depth understanding of finance processes (using techniques such as process mining), transactional excellence harnesses enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, robotic process automation (RPA), tool-based workflows and machine learning to digitalise finance function activities – including more complex tasks. The focus here is to consider the solutions in their overall context, avoiding the silo mentality often found in process design and enabling the solutions to deliver holistic benefits.
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CFOs always need rapid insights into key data for decision-making. Ideally, this data will be captured in a central ERP system without any data inconsistencies or transmission errors. The latest systems can perform complex analyses such as SAP S/4HANA directly within the system – in real time, across departments, customised to your needs and intuitively accessible from mobile devices. Using the ERP system as a basis, you can add further automation as required, such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). This allows CFOs to access key data for decision-making at any time. Robots have already been developed to search databases for KPI-related information, compile reports in Excel and communicate with stakeholders by email.
We provide companies with provider-neutral advice on selecting and implementing the right ERP solution, including:
Control structures need to be capable of providing the information that managers need here and now. However, structures and data models vary considerably from one source system to another. This makes comprehensive data analysis much harder, which in turn makes it harder to identify a consistent action plan. The finance office of the future needs an overarching concept that brings together heterogeneous source systems, enables the creation of dynamic data models and a uniform business intelligence (BI) platform, and at the same time provides a reliable database. The benchmark along the way is how easily users can access the information and perform analyses on their own.
Click the link to find out how you can use professional data management to be one decision ahead of your competitors.