Over the past few months, we looked at some of the things CFOs need to focus on in running their organizations. You already know that the past year has been a challenge, and no matter the focus of your organization, you’ve been able to lead your team through the wilderness. The questions remain, however. What could you do better? What did you have to put on hold? What can you do to create resilience?
Recap: Managing the Challenges
There are many ways to approach this, ranging from shorter-term initiatives designed to smooth out the path to growth and transformation to long-term initiatives like AI. Your ability to lead will be tested, your decisions questioned, and your business challenged. How are you going to step up?
From delivering auditability taking steps to develop a strategy for 2021 that still allows for flexibility to communicating metrics to both financially savvy and those who are less so, the modern CFO has a lot on his or her plate. Among these challenges:
- Rethinking Metrics: Measuring starts with knowing what to measure. Key performance indicators provide CFOs with drivers behind the business and help inform real decisions.
- Communicating beyond Finance: As you run a growing and often decentralized organization, you need to show people the business in a way they can understand.
- Facilitating Audits: Audits are a reality, and it’s within the Modern CFO’s power to make them as easy and low stress as possible.
- Managing Compliance: Whether it’s tax code or tariffs, it’s vital for CFOs to stay ahead of the laws, regulations, and industry standards affecting the business.
- Keeping the Business Secure: Cybersecurity risk is business risk, and risk management falls in your purview. Controlling it requires the right approach.
- Preparing for the Future: AI and Machine Learning are rapidly becoming part of the business world, and each are providing deep insights. How can you leverage this?
Something we discussed in detail in each of the blogs on the topic and in Acumatica’s free guide to the top technology challenges for the modern CFO, the big question is this: How does ERP deliver?
The Path to Future-Proof ERP: Approaching Change
A modern, future-proof ERP solution can put you in a position for growth, accuracy, and speed. By delivering automation, intelligence, and rapid improvement, modern ERP solutions provide CFOs the tools they need to lead companies through good times and bad. But how can you find what delivers and how do you progress through the buying process?
It All Starts with the Why
Before diving into the long, often highly politicized ERP decision, ask yourself do we need a new system and why might we need one? Often, this comes down to growth beyond current system capabilities or inefficiencies that can’t be cured. Do any of the following sound familiar?
- You and your team are always dealing with manual workarounds for simple tasks which can be easily automated.
- Much of your data is stored in Excel spreadsheets on multiple systems across the company.
- There are no automated workflows (such as approvals for purchase orders or AP processing).
- You are unable to easily modify the software to work with your company’s processes.
- You are always facing a laborious month-end close process.
- Accruals, allocations, and deferred revenues are an issue.
- You lack the ability to manage multiple companies within one system and provide consolidated reporting.
Discussing the Approach: Securing Buy-In from the Team
If you feel like your solution has crippled growth and held your company back, your next step is to ask your team how such a product’s shortcomings affect the day-to-day. Though the process of securing buy-in from the team is discussed in great detail here, these discussions are focused on two things: needs assessment and hype.
Interview not just the financial team, but everyone who will be using the system—from shipping and receiving to sales and marketing. Determine the features and functions that are necessary, those that would be nice to have, and those that will be required in the near future.
Working with your team to document and prioritize their needs allows you to understand what you need now, what you might want to add on in a few years, and what might close a sale. But it also generates excitement—who would say no to less stress?
Prepare Your Questions
With needs documented, turn your attention to the research process and prepare for your work with the sales teams at vendors or implementation partners. Start with analyst reviews and blogs, working to learn as much as possible about a solution. Then when it’s time to settle into the discussions, ask about how it’s going to deliver for your needs.
If auditability is a top priority, be sure the software provides an audit trail of each transaction and allows you to drill down into each transaction. For reporting, get to know how easy it is to create reports and whether those reports provide information needed to thrive.
Be sure to bring developers and IT into some of the meetings to understand how an ERP move is going to affect their job.
Note: Control the Demo
There is always a tendency for the demo team to show the features and functions that depict their software in the best light. Don’t let that distract you from why you asked for the demonstration: Make sure each of your requirements are demonstrated to you and your team to your satisfaction.
Narrow Your Options and Select a Partner
As you move through the process, benefits and pitfalls will begin to show, and as you narrow down your options, finalize an external team that can put it into action. The right partner has experience and understands not only how to put software into use—but has expertise to put into use for your unique needs.
Note: Put an Internal Team in Place to Work with Them
The software vendor will provide a team of specialists to help you migrate your data, implement and tune the system, and train your staff. However, you need to have your own dedicated team from your company to assist with the process, provide access to secure areas and systems, and help work through any problems that might occur.
The Modern CFO’s Guide to Buying an ERP System
Your ERP accounting system is the heart and soul of your business. Your organization has entrusted you to select a new one. How can you make the most informed, strategic decision possible without getting bogged down in months of time-consuming research?
The Modern CFO ERP Buyer’s Guide will help. Download it now to help streamline the ERP evaluation process. Written by experts at Acumatica, this free guide shares with you a variety of tips from analysis to implementation, allowing you to reduce risk and make the most out of a project. Download it here.
The Right ERP, the Right Partner: Kissinger
If you’re looking to learn even more about how modern ERP can connect your business and help you do more with your day, get to know Kissinger Associates. For decades, we’ve helped growing companies in manufacturing and distribution to leverage solutions built for them. Get to know more about our team and contact us for a free consultation.