There is no doubt in the fact that the ongoing pandemic has brought a paradigm shift not only in processes but the mindset, while managing businesses today. These trends will continue into the future, bringing irreversible shifts in the way business is done. In a new world order, where remote working is becoming the new normal, every department in a corporate must rethink and redesign their working strategies.
Starting from the tech department, to marketing and finance departments, all verticals have been working out ways to come up with the best solutions for business recovery and attuning to the new way of life and work. There’s no confounding that the last few months has forced every department to improvise their processes and strategies, to be in sync with the situation on ground, especially the finance department.
In fact, the burden of successful business recovery will clearly be resting on the shoulders of the finance function, by effectively optimising costs, conserving resources and ensuring adequate cash flow is available to restart the business after normalcy is restored
Technology: Booster shot
A major saviour for organizations during the lockdown has been technology, which has helped maintain constant internal and external communications and work going on in all sectors and more so for service / IT industry. Today’s avant-garde technology integrated in systems, has enabled many financial processes to continue despite physical absence. Having integrated Enterprise systems allows the finance department to quickly process and analyse data and provide actionable insights which subsequently enables efficient decision-making. Finance also plays the most pivotal role when it comes to creating purpose-built solutions for every business process within the organisation.
All these processes when seamlessly connected for end-to-end alignment – within finance and with operational LOBs including (to name a few) Human Resources, Supply Chain and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) increase agility across the organization.
Additionally, while the ERP systems integrate different processes, the availability of real time information in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world is equally important where “DATA” is the new Gold. This can be achieved through “everywhere ERP” (Mobile, Cloud, Social Media) which provides as faster, scalable and reliable solution enabling faster decision making and optimising costs.
Within finance as well, all verticals should adopt one common platform to enable decision-making at diverse levels, addressing all needs in one go, across financial and operational planning, consolidation, reporting, and analysis of processes. This platform should enable best practices that can be constructed and are well-suited for the organisation’s specific needs.
In the time to come, Artificial intelligence and machine learning will also hold great potential in redefining the finance function. These proficiencies will embed enhanced capabilities in the organisations to drive better decision-making through analytical insights and automating current manual processes. The day to day financial chores rely profoundly on digital workflows and databases, hence the financial function becomes the perfect front-runner in incorporating and benefiting from advance technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and RPA (Robotics Process Automation), especially in the new normal business landscape.
Future: Deep tech integration in Finance
As per a report by EY, it has been observed that about 58% of CFOs believe that combining state-of-the-art technology with process improvement will be a major focus for the future of finance function.
In fact, the more timely, accurate and comprehensive insights the finance can cultivate for the organisation, the more it can contribute in reducing the uncertainty the organisation may have to face due to the current or future crisis. Technology integration, scale up and Real Time analytics will play a key role in functioning of the finance vertical to ensure a smooth run, especially but not limited to, times of crisis.
Warren Buffet, the famous American investor, business tycoon, and philanthropist, also the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has rightly said, “There will be interruptions, and I don’t know when they will occur, and I don’t know how deep they will occur, I do know they will occur from time to time, and I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end” — on the inevitability of disruptions to the global economy.
–By Shray Mehandiratta – Director Finance, IPM India Wholesale Trading Private Limited, (country affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI)