As Treasury Goes Virtual, Can Forecasting Keep Up?

money-forecastingAs businesses continue to expand their global footprint, and new technology changes the way we work, the success of the treasury department is contingent on how well it operates in an increasingly virtual setting.

That’s the latest from PwC’s Global Corporate Treasury Benchmarking Survey 2017, which captures the views of over 220 treasurers and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) from around the world.

With a full two-thirds of people involved in treasury processes are no longer reporting directly —or even indirectly—to the treasurer, the function is no longer a “department” but rather a process. In fact, many treasurers are handing over more treasury tasks to third-party providers or internal shared services.

In a statement, Sebastian di Paola, Global Corporate Treasury Leader at PwC, said, “Treasury is becoming increasingly virtual and treasurers need to be jacks of all trades by collaborating more with the business, shared services and banks and raising their game in IT security, valuation and financial risk management.”

Top of the Agenda

The solution, says di Paolo, is a strategy that takes a consultative approach, integrates other business processes and is heavy on automation. Treasurers are being asked to step up and become stewards of liquidity and better cash flow management.

A top priority for both CFOs and treasurers is cash flow forecasting, with 42% ranking it as a priority and 80% of these people rank it as high or of critical importance.

Yet, as the report points out, forecasting has been ranked as a priority for the past two decades, and in the 2017 report, over half of respondents cite concerns like accuracy of data, data collection, mapping and proper tooling. Despite huge technological advances, treasury is still a manual, spreadsheet based function. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, it seems.

For treasurers to truly attain better cash flow forecasting and reporting, they must first embrace digitalization, process transformation and predictive analytics. The report points to the importance of attaching KPIs to data accuracy. (Be sure to download the full report here.)

Our Experience

Sutherland has helped many clients contain costs and improve cash management. Finance executives know what has to be done, but internal teams have limited resources for overcoming the obstacles of a lack of centralization and visibility. They struggle with getting real-time information and actionable data.

Optimizing cash management is essential to business success. If you’d like more information on how Sutherland can help you improve cash flow management and significantly reduce your costs, please schedule an appointment today for a deeper conversation with one of our experts.

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Are My Processes Best-in-Class?

Companies that are serious about improving performance and staying ahead of their competition in these volatile and changing times are constantly searching for better ways of doing things. From customer-facing functions like customer support to the behind-the-scenes finance function, best-in-class practices and processes are the hallmark of an industry leader.

High-performing enterprises embrace a culture of continuous process optimization and improvement. It’s not an option, but rather a necessity. As technology changes and continues to disrupt business, what was relevant five years ago seems as old as the dinosaurs now. C-suite executives understand that without top-performing processes they may soon find themselves out of step with their market, regulatory compliance and quickly falling to the back of the pack.

How Do You Know?

But how do you know if your processes are best in class? How do you know if you are measuring the right KPIs? Where do you stand compared to your competitors? Can you get money through the door and into the bank more quickly, or are you lagging behind the industry norms? Continue reading

The F&A Experience

When you see a football player effortlessly pluck the ball out of the air, and in one single move, change the game completely, you understand that days, weeks and years of practice went into the automatic reflect behind that play. When online shopping channels make it easy to purchase (and check out) with the single click of a button, there’s no doubt that thousands of hours of design thinking and GUI coding expertise went into that seamless experience.

It takes a lot of effort to for anything to appear effortless.

The ongoing march of technology, and the intersection of multiple technologies—combined with human ingenuity—make many of these experiences possible.

But how often is the F&A experience considered?

When it comes to partnering with clients, there are two outcomes that should be considered:

  1. How can we improve the client’s employees experience with their own processes and practices?
  2. How can we favorably impact our client’s customers’ experiences?

Inevitably the two are interconnected. Continue reading

The Art & Science of Data-Driven Finance

office-sceneYesterday, Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice President, F&A Global Technology Leader, co-hosted a webinar with Veena Gundavelli, the Founder and CEO of Emagia Corporation. The topic? Data-driven finance.

More than ever, finance organizations need to eliminate data silos, turn data into insights (and decisions), and digitalize and automate the Order-to-Cash (O2C) cycle. Finance executives are under increasing pressure to improve performance, with key drivers for finance transformation boiled down to the “4Cs”:

  • Cost
  • Control
  • Compliance
  • Cash flow

After an introduction by Ms. Gundavelli, Mr. Sunthimer pointed out that transformative is imperative. Digital technology isn’t limited to the domain of high-tech companies. Today, every company is a digital company, and those that aren’t have a limited shelf life.

Mr. Sunthimer elaborated on how today’s hot commodity is data. Companies sit on massive amounts of structured and unstructured data, and there is a strong desire to turn that mound into usable, actionable knowledge. Continue reading

New Webinar: Excellence is in Order (to Cash)

600px-shutterstock_169847765Finance is in a state of flux. Processes that once served F&A have become outdated. If businesses want to keep up, they need to leverage new technologies and new transformative processes wherever possible.

Today’s CFO understands the need to focus on big-picture strategy and to continually reassess and revamp operations. For that reason, most CFOs list achieving finance operations excellence as a top goal for 2017.

The time has come to embrace data-driven finance by putting Big Data, analytics and robotic process automation to use. Leveraging these tools, in conjunction with rethinking end-to-end processes can help to optimize revenue, reduce risk and drive cash flow.

Discover how to free up your staff to focus on strategic thinking and higher-level outcomes.

Webinar: Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, join Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice-President, Finance Transformation Practice, for the webinar Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations. Continue reading

Location Strategy: Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

For finance professionals, it might be surprising to learn that the three hardest words in business don’t involve terms like “KPIs,” “reconciliation” or even “regulatory.” In fact, for most F&A leaders, the hardest words to grapple with are, “I don’t know.”

No one likes to admit they don’t know the answer to something. It can signal vulnerability or a lack of authority. But the best leaders are open to different perspectives and willing to benefit from others’ experience. It’s essential that they have the confidence to look elsewhere for answers when they can’t provide them on their own, because eventually, even the savviest of CFOs will need input from someone else.

So the question is this: What issues or challenges have you thinking, if not saying, those three big words?

Location, Location, Location

If you’re like many businesses evaluating or looking to increase your global footprint, you might be asking yourself: “Do I have the right resources in the right locations around the world?”

It’s a fair question. As branch offices continue to expand, business functions like Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable are grouped together across a few key hub locations to reduce costs. And although companies need to be wary of the costs of setting up shop in metropolitan cities, there is the danger of moving so far out that skilled F&A labor becomes scarce or is unwilling to commute. Continue reading

The Weekly Roundup: Financial Predictions in an Unpredictable World

F&A weekly roundupChange is afoot. From new standards within finance, to economic and political turmoil across the globe – not to mention digital transformation – accounting professionals face a steady stream of challenges. Yet finance leaders must find a way to move forward during these unstable times; if they don’t, they risk falling far behind the competition. For this week’s roundup, Sutherland’s Editorial Team presents a selection of articles that explore some of the issues and try to predict what F&A can expect in the coming months. Enjoy the reading! (Feel free to tweet us or follow us @Sutherland_iBPO to continue the conversation.)

Robot Revolution? Fear Not, F&A

David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics and associate head of the MIT Department of Economics, recently gave a TED Talk about how technological advancement impacts employment. This AccountingWEB article outlines key takeaways from the research paper that informed Autor’s talk, and explores how they will apply to F&A. One of the main messages is this: Accountants won’t be replaced; they don’t need to fear a hostile robotic takeover. Continue reading

Cash Management Not Managed Well Enough?

rising costsIs your company debt going up even though cash on hand is stable? You’re not alone. A recent study by The Hackett Group brought to light some serious challenges in cash management. The study followed 1,000 US-based companies and noted that the cash conversion cycle (CCC) performance declined by 2.4 days, or 7%, from the prior year. The 35.5-day CCC average is now higher than it’s been at any time since 2008.

But averages can hide bigger issues. Consider this: Median companies are seven times slower at turning capital into cash than leaders. Cash is collected more two weeks slower than top performers: 43.5 days (median) vs 25.1 days (leaders). When it comes to paying suppliers the median group shelled out two weeks faster at 41.1 days as opposed to 59.4 days for leaders.

The study says that, by not following the best practices of leaders, this middling group left a whopping $1.07 trillion on the table. Continue reading

The Weekly Roundup: Technologically Speaking

F&A weekly roundupCloud technology, artificial intelligence, automation, cybersecurity, the Internet of things… When it comes to technology trends, there’s never a shortage of issues to explore. Here, Sutherland presents a few select articles that dive into the tech side of finance – plus a little bit on tax risks for businesses. Enjoy the reading! (Feel free to tweet us or follow us @Sutherland_iBPO to continue the conversation.)

Changeable Cloud: Weathering the Storm

It’s one thing to be aware of the advantages of cloud technology. But like everything in today’s fast-paced world, the cloud is constantly changing. Staying on top of the latest evolutions can be a challenge – albeit one that’s necessary to meet. This Accounting Today article highlights the three key cloud changes that accountants should get familiar with. Continue reading

Eyes on the Horizon or Rearview Mirror?

rearviewImagine you are merrily zipping along a highway in your car, pulling into the fast lane to pass the slower vehicle in front of you. You’re alert, you check your side and rear-view mirrors and quickly look ahead to watch the road in front of you. Suddenly, there’s a resounding BANG! as your front hood unexpectedly opens, flips back and covers your front windscreen.

Without a clear view of the road ahead, and only a rearview mirror, you are driving blind. In the fast lane.

While no harm comes to our hypothetical driver —who manages to pull off to the side, tie down the broken front hood and drive slowly to the nearest garage—this harrowing tale can be seen as an analogy to F&A departments around the world.

Too many finance professionals are relying on information that stems from backward-looking, often incomplete data. Traditional finance departments run the risk of being hobbled while more agile, digitally savvy competitors pull ahead.

At a Tipping Point

The quality of decision-making information can be a tipping point, one that is critical to organizational success and differentiation. Finance is the nexus of information, pulling in data from all silos—operations, marketing, HR and supply chain, etc. This enterprise-wide overview enables the finance department to partner with a number of diverse internal functions to deliver greater insights and value.

A recent Gartner trend report for 2017 underscored the need for bold innovation, the ability to navigate the fast-paced waters of technological change and the pursuit of higher quality, forward-looking information. Continue reading