Organizations depend on finance to arm the business with accurate, timely insight and planning strategies to help the business succeed. In order to meet the business’ expectations though, Finance must put technology investment at the forefront of their roadmap strategy.
At our recently concluded Hub 2015 conference, Ed Majors, Principal, Information Management, Deloitte Consulting LLP, “Historically, I think finance to some degree has had a backseat in the business, recording the results once they happen—a more reactive role. But the role of finance is now changing. They need to be a front-runner within the business, and finance technology has finally caught up to their needs.”
Majors then discussed the three layers of business decisions to consider when implementing financial technology—strategic decisions, investment decisions, and operational decisions—and the importance that Finance plays into the investment decisions. Majors dove deeper into the strategy that Finance should take to address investment decisions. When making a fundamental business change, it can be overwhelming to know where you start – defining what strategic decisions to make, and how to put it into operational play. Ed Majors suggests looking to these four leading practices when implementing a new technology and strategy:
Focus on business impact
With Deloitte’s decades of advisory and strategic service, Majors revealed the most common challenge found across customers looking to replace technology systems and process strategies is deciding where to start. The “Decision Optimization Framework” helps companies do just that; get started.
Determine the key decisions that matter to your organization and how can this technology help get you there. At this point you must identify three things:
- What will lead to innovation?
- What will have the highest impact?
- What will drive the most value to the business?
This stage includes deciding between tackling the “low-hanging fruit” verses backtracking to identify the overall business strategy and long-term roadmap when implementing and deploying the new technology. These decisions should incorporate a conversation between all decision makers or influencers on the project. Make sure you are aligning goals from the start of the project.
Map out your ideal future state
Once the business goal and strategy are identified, Majors advises to identify and prioritize organizational and system changes that are needed, including current and future state of processes, data, and analytical tools. For example before making a change to your old ways, identify processes that work well verses existing challenges such as departmental silos and system gaps that restrict insight and collaboration to plan and budget as a unified organization.
Streamline data across the organization
In addition to streamlining processes, it is crucial to identify what organizational data will need to be utilized or accessible within the new system. Identify what tools should integrate and what types of data should flow back and forth between systems. Poor data quality or integration can astronomically slow down business strategy and planning.
Drive value and impact results quickly
Majors ended his presentation by driving home the importance of tracking measureable outcomes during a technology implementation. Organizations must revisit the prior state to evaluate the success that was achieved. Benchmark the state of the business before and after when implementing a new technology so that the technology initiative continues to receive buy-in from executives. Keep these four categories in mind when setting business metrics:
- Enhanced quality
- Reduced risk
- Value creation
- Organizational efficiency
Each goal and metric you set should be improving one of these categories and providing business impact. For example, if you are driving organizational efficiency, you may choose to measure cross-departmental collaboration through increased employee engagement; whereas, with a focus on reducing risk, you may measure the decrease in system bugs or spreadsheet errors. Stick with a measurement you can confidently improve and that impacts the business across departments.
It is time for finance to revolutionize their process and systems and alas keep pace with business growth. Now with agile, flexible, cloud-based technology, such as Anaplan, finance is empowered to provide real-time insight to the business and led the strategy and planning conversation. With the help of Anaplan, DocuSign did just this. They have kept pace with its hyper-growth through implementing Anaplan gaining real-time reporting and true geo-dimensionality to confidently forecast their business strategy and revenue growth.
Hear more on Deloitte’s methodology and strategy when working with Anaplan.