As the calendar is about to flip to January 2017 in Finance & Accounting offices around the world, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. To take a look at what worked and what didn’t, and how your F&A department can do even better in the New Year.
With that in mind, here are seven resolutions every F&A department head should be making.
1. Improve Cash Flow with Analytics: Predictive analytics can not only help companies understand which customers will pay, which ones will delay or who is more likely to default, it can also transform an Accounts Receivable department, vastly improving cash flow. At Sutherland, we have seen up to 15-20% improvement in accounts receivables management (credit period, delinquencies, etc.) simply by analyzing current and historical payment data.
2. Reduce Reliance on Spreadsheets: While Excel can be great for one-off calculations and on-the-spot simulations/models, it’s not intended for many F&A tasks. Despite new web-based technologies, the majority of U.S. companies still use spreadsheets when a centralized F&A system would tighten data security, remove organizational silos and reduce errors as it allows all of the primary activities and reporting to draw from the same database of financial information. This ensures that the financial data you need is always current and available to the people who need it most.
3. Understand That ALL Departments Impact Customer Experience. Companies have long emphasized the high value of customer care touchpoints. Yet, usually the customer journey is viewed through the lens of the front office –customer service and support. The reality is that many other departments within any organization contribute to the overall customer experience. This includes the Finance and Accounting department. For example, a customer purchase order—processed either accurately or inaccurately—impacts both the customer experience and the correlating back-end costs. And, your Accounts Receivable/Collections department is often dealing with customers concerning very delicate payment matters. Improving internal processes and ensuring a best practices approach throughout F&A can also have a very tangible impact on customer experience.
4. Be Faster and More Agile. With intensifying market volatility, forecasting, planning and reporting has never been more complex. Yet, a company’s capacity to tap into real-time data about business performance and use it to make timely decisions will increasingly be a major competitive differentiator in 2017. High on the want list for finance leaders is a single, real-time version of the truth. Companies are actively looking to ensure the veracity and timeliness of their financial, operational and customer data to be able to derive value in the form of vastly improved business performance. Those that can will pull ahead of the competition.
5. Keep on Top of Compliance. In a recent survey, finance leaders pointed to regulatory change and scrutiny as a risk that will have “significant impact” in their organization in the coming years. Many organizations are also struggling to address modern compliance regulations when equipped with lagging data and outdated technology architecture. Companies must take an unwavering look at how to meet regulatory demands while simultaneously making competitive gains.
6. Rethink Processes. Within larger, global organizations, processes can easily vary, be redundant, and become outdated or inefficient. In too many scenarios, companies use automation to speed up poor processes. Instead, F&A departments need to design, build and execute an ideal process that gets rid of manual entries, improves the quality of the data and has both upstream and downstream tangible, measurable benefits to the organization.
7. Partner for Technology. Today companies want to minimize their technology investments, see their ROI faster, increase their transparency and access intuitive business analytics that will help them grow their business. Until a few years ago, buying or building technology was the most common approach. Organizations have another choice – to partner with a process transformation organization that brings in technology solutions.
If you’re looking for a partner to reach your 2017 objectives, talk with one of our F&A experts.