Most finance transformations fail — beat the odds
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Most finance transformations fail — beat the odds

5 months ago · 2 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

I’ll get straight to the point — finance transformation is hard.

An estimated 70% of digital transformations fail, for reasons ranging from insufficient resources, lack of buy-in and inadequate capability due to scarce training across the organization.

Although finance transformation can be daunting, digital adoption allows finance teams to become future-ready and look forward rather than simply report on the past.

Finance teams are uniquely placed and therefore in the best position to provide visibility and strategic guidance — and can be the conduit for driving enterprise-wide digital transformation. But that means accounting and finance professionals need to transform before the technology, equip their team with the right capabilities — and morph from a traditional “scorekeeper” role into leaders and advisers for the entire organization.

Unfortunately, many organizations do not provide the training necessary to prepare their finance teams for digital transformation. A recent report from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants® and Oracle revealed that only 6% of finance leaders have a robust finance training program in place.

If you’re looking for ways to prepare your team for successful digital transformation, start by adopting an agile finance model to drive the transformation.

Agile finance involves embracing the technologies and skills that enable digital finance adoption. An agile finance organization is flexible, resilient and efficient. Agile finance teams work quickly and decisively by flowing real-time data to decision-makers.

The three elements of an agile finance transformation model, as defined by AICPA® & CIMA®, are:

Operational excellence — Reengineering legacy processes, adopting best practices as identified by modern technologies that enable standardization and automation to provide enterprise data sets.

Digital intelligence — Leveraging the enterprise data sets to generate insights to drive decisions that create business value.

Business influence — Adopting the skills and organizational factors required to establish finance function capability to effectively communicate and enable execution of the insights gathered for transformation success.

We can connect these key organizational factors into three segments or pillars:

  • People

  • Process

  • Technology

An organization’s people best design an organization’s processes to drive operational excellence using modern and flexible technology.

If your organization is planning or implementing digital transformation, it can help to learn from the successes and failures of those who have come out on the other side.

Oracle leveraged the AICPA & CIMA agile finance model to guide its digital transformation and move to the cloud. While the process was not without hiccups, the results were beyond expectations, saving the company significant time, money and resources.

For example, Oracle has reduced the time it takes to close its books and report earnings to the street to nine days — 23 days faster than average — faster than any other S&P 500 company. The finance team is delivering accurate, real-time information to management for faster and better decision-making.

We all know that the future is uncertain, and that changing conditions will challenge the finance world. Adopting an agile finance model can help your organization thrive amid uncertainty.

Don’t look at technology as a disrupter, but as a key enabler.

Develop your finance team’s future-proof digital strategy with the AICPA & CIMA Agile Finance Transformation Certificate Series. Gain actionable tips from Oracle staff on how they revolutionized their reporting processes — and learn how you can leverage cloud-based solutions to refine reporting and enhance business insights.

Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, FCMA

Ash Noah is Managing Director, CGMA Learning, Education and Development, at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

In this position, Ash leads the Research, Examinations and Product Development for the Management Accounting Unit.

His primary responsibility is to ensure that the Association’s Finance Competency Framework, Syllabus, Examinations and Learning solutions are effective and remain relevant to the practice of Management Accounting. Ash works closely with Finance Leaders globally, identifying the trends impacting the finance profession.

Ash was the CFO for the International Unit of TNT global express logistics provider and has led finance transformation in teams across 45 countries. He is a licensed U.S. CPA, a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation holder, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

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