Optimising financial processes

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The 6 CFO Priorities – Survey Results

APQC recently conducted an annual survey of CFOs and finance leaders to explore the focus areas, initiatives, and challenges we are all facing in 2022.

We all hoped for a return to “normality” after the past two years, but rising inflation and interest rates are adding to the sustained supply chain issues and pressure on raw material and shipping prices to create a “perfect storm” of turmoil for businesses around the world. How we organize and connect ourselves to deliver for our organizations is also still very much in a state of flux.

2022 will be another “interesting year” and who knows what 2023 will bring.

Finance leaders commented on the six key issues facing us all today, in priority order;

  • Business Processes
    • Finance process improvement was rated the highest priority by those surveyed. Streamlining processes has a number of benefits so it is not surprising that this rated highly.
    • The top 3 initiatives reported are end to end process alignment, productivity measurement and process automation. These were not scored in this sequence, but you will know by now that experience tells us that this IS the best sequence on which to embark on process improvement and transformation.
  • Finance Data Management
    • We know that data exploitation is a key to effective and efficient process improvement and operational management.
    • Whilst data management and data exploitation are two different challenges, the success of the latter is influenced by the maturity of the former.
    • Whilst 75% of survey respondents are using “data analytics”, 92% of this group are focused on performance reporting. Whilst this can be a short term “sugar hit” for leadership, the real value of data is insight into process defects that provide fuel for root case analysis and rapid process improvement.
    • The highest priority reported is to “access real-time data in order to make business decisions”, or what we call “data driven decision making”.
  • Cash Flow
    • With interest rates rising, cash will once again become “king”. We will see a greater focus on payment terms, receivables, balance sheet liabilities, borrowing, returns on capital investments and the like.
    • The highest priority strategy reported in the survey was ensuring that budgets and forecasts are responsive to a more turbulent economy.
  • Risk Management
    • Eighty percent of survey respondents reported they are piloting, rolling out, or have fully implemented a risk management program in their organization. The top three financial risks reported were operational risk, cyber risk, and credit risk.
    • In turbulent times, focus will increase on risk management.
  • Talent
    • With a lot of commentary recently on the reported “Great Resignation”, it is understandable that the two top priorities reported are “Development/Upskill of current finance talent” and “Retention of current finance talent”. These should be the top priorities in any economy.
    • The three top skills in demand are those related to business process management, technology/automation and advanced analytics.
  • Workplace
    • Just over half of survey respondents transitioned to a temporary remote/hybrid workplace in 2020 or 2021 and are still using a remote/hybrid model today. However, 58% of respondents reported plans to make a permanent transition to a remote/hybrid workplace in 2022.

There are nuances in this survey report and you can download it here . . .  courtesy of APQC.

You may need to register, but it is free of charge.

Thanks for reading!