The role of the CFO function has been rapidly evolving in the past years. While the CFO function still has an important role in fulfilling the statutory compliance tasks, reporting and record keeping, its role has shifted more towards business partnering and transformation. In this new role, the CFO function increasingly utilizes the understanding of its financial position to help execute and direct the whole organization’s strategy, improve its competitive position and enable growth. This also means that the basic accounting and controlling tasks need to be optimized to a degree where resources can be allocated towards more value adding tasks.

To make the finance function work more as a business partner and facilitator for the business transformation, the finance function needs to:

  1. Automate the repetitive
  2. Utilize data
  3. Create strategic value

This blog is the first part of the data-driven finance and technology blog series and focuses on how organizations can utilize automation in their finance function’s digitalization journey.

Automate the repetitive

Automating the basic repetitive tasks enables the CFO function to focus more on value-adding work. This means that basic work and demands need to be delivered quickly and accurately enough with continuously improving processes. This automation of repetitive and transactional tasks can happen through the approach of identifying and automating as many processes as possible. In short, everything that can be automated with reasonable time and cost should be automated. 

Process automation usually starts with the identification of the processes that have the highest automation potential. That is typically measured by how many FTEs (full time equivalent) can be released if the process, or a part of the process, is automated. Process mining enables to identify the best automation candidates with a data driven approach – giving information on which processes are repetitive in nature and where are the highest transaction volumes.  

Scripts, macros, and RPA (robotic process automation) are ideal technologies for automating rule-based activities which have input data in a structured format. These types of technologies are already widely adopted in finance functions. It is always worth considering whether the automation can be done within a native system (e.g. ERP) before implementing a new robot. 

Automation of more complex, judgement-based, activities require more advanced technologies (e.g. machine learning). Machine learning can be used to structure data, which further enables to push the activity in an automated flow. This type of approach, in which multiple automation technologies are used to enable process automation at scale, is often referred as hyperautomation.

You can find more insights on the maturity of different technologies, as well as some concrete use cases related to finance function’s automation (e.g. continuous accounting & planning) in our CFO 4.0 2021 study’s Part 2.  In our next blog of the series, we will deep dive into how organizations can improve their data utilization abilities. Stay tuned!


Contact: 

Heli Moilanen
Director, Finance & Risk
BearingPoint Finland

Authors:

Pilvi Lehtinen
Senior Business Consultant, Enterprise Performance Management
BearingPoint Finland

Joona Ronkainen
Senior Business Consultant, Enterprise Performance Management
BearingPoint Finland

Download BearingPoint's CFO 4.0 2021 Study - Part 2

  • CFO 4.0 2021 Study - Part 2
    CFO 4.0 2021 Study - Part 2 2.08 MB Download
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