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Challenges CFOs face today – providing strategic value while balancing increasing data

After a look into the challenges CFOs face today, Adaptive Insights found finance teams have little time to spend on strategic tasks due to insufficient reporting systems.
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While there are numerous challenges CFOs face today, Adaptive Insights shone a light on report efficiency through research entitled The Challenges in Assembling Corporate Reports.

It divulged that only 46 per cent of the 400 global CFOs that were surveyed believed they truly met stakeholder needs. And while 85 per cent claimed finance teams had direct access to the data needed to generate accurate reports, they ended up first having to gather it, verify its accuracy and then format the reports. This, they claimed, took time away from the strategic analysis management desired of them.

Source system integration was the biggest hurdle when it came to the report process, with numerous CFOs claiming it to be among the biggest challenges CFOs face today. In fact, 60 per cent delved into more detail, suggesting systems continued to house operational and financial data separately. Finance teams were thus faced with the time-consuming process of manually aggregating data – there were inconsistencies in metrics, data, and calculations that needed to be verified.

“So when all is said and done, value-added analysis needed for strategic decision-making seems to fall by the wayside a bit,” the report explained. “We’ve even discovered a set-back. In Q2 2016, we asked CFOs how much time teams spent on strategic tasks, and the results came back at 18 per cent. Revisiting the issue for this report, not only did we discover things have not improved, they’ve actually taken a small step backwards. Teams are spending 17 per cent of their time on strategy.”

Additionally, on the rise when it comes to challenges CFOs face today, is the increase in the volume and sources of data, not to mention how the new demands it has placed on CFOs. 

“Most CFOs say their firms prepare anywhere from one to 20 reports each quarter – including board packages, quarterly performance reports, etc – and three-quarters of them claim the volume of the reports they prepare has increased compared to three years ago,” it was suggested. Some 68 per cent of CFOs expect a 16 per cent increase of reports by 2020 though, so firms will need to fix source system challenges and data gathering issues to address this future demand.

“Our survey validated the ongoing challenges CFOs face today – the need to provide greater strategic value while balancing the increasing volume and sources of data,” said Robert Hull, founder of Adaptive Insights. “Reporting efficiency plays a critical role as CFOs want their teams to spend more time on strategic tasks yet recognise both the technology and process challenges associated with today’s reporting activities. CFOs must address these challenges now if they expect to fulfil their roles as strategic partner to company management teams.”

Image: Shutterstock

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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