How can businesses modernize their finance operations? By taking a human-led, tech-powered approach to transformation. Consider this an opportunity for your company to build a modern finance workforce—one that can be a strategic business partner rather than simply a financial steward.
To get there, you’ll need to reimagine roles, reskill staff and prioritize data analytics. The benefits are clear: In our experience working with clients, we’ve seen that companies that bolster their workforce, hone analytical capabilities and turn finance into a strategic business partner are better able to drive transformative results across their organization and core leadership teams.
68% of CFOs are investing in digital transformation over the next 12 months, including in technologies like cloud and analytics.
While investment in technology continues to be a critical component of modernizing the finance function, finance leaders believe five of the six top steps hinge on people:
As the finance function continues to evolve, business leaders recognize that they’ll need a workforce with new skills in order to meet new demands. Leading finance organizations are investing more in finance upskilling and reskilling. They’re investing at least three times more in upskilling programs than the median and nearly twice the number of the hours. These organizations are creating—and iterating on—a workforce transformation roadmap to support productivity, innovation and growth-enhancing tech investments.
The reskilling programs that leading organizations have put in place are not just check-the-box activities. These businesses are anticipating the skills they may need for the future, laying a new cultural foundation for their company and delivering modern upskilling programs. They’re also assessing their workforce’s current skills and designing an “always-on” learning environment, in which employees are encouraged to share new capabilities and apply what others are doing to their own work, contributing to their finance-transformation-related outcomes.
Technical upskilling is important, of course, but investments that improve non-technical capabilities are just as critical. Traditionally, finance success meant “reporting out” numbers with limited analysis. Now, additional competencies are needed, including data-driven storytelling, communication, collaboration, adaptability and innovation. To be effective, finance leaders should deeply understand their business so they can use data to tell a compelling story.
Upskilling investments pay off in other ways, as well. Firms that invest heavily in upskilling have 27% lower turnover than organizations that do not invest as heavily, according to PwC’s 2021 Finance Effectiveness Benchmarking Study. This means lower replacement costs, less drag on productivity and less time required for retraining. In addition, tailored learning programs grow higher-performing, more stable teams and expand the capabilities of employees in anticipating and addressing the changing needs of the business.
73% of employees say they know of systems or technology that would help them produce higher-quality work.
Most finance organizations have made significant investments in technology, but many have failed to capitalize on their tech’s full potential. Why? Because they’re not tapping into the full potential of their people. Firms that maximize their investments can connect the right technology to new ways of working. Some, for example, pair macro investments in technology infrastructure with employee crowd-sourcing, also known as citizen-led innovation, to give individuals the autonomy to apply their learning to their work in real-time. The result? Work feels meaningful and relevant, which leads to greater efficiencies from automation activities. Your staff can then spend more time focusing on the higher-value work that connects them to the purpose and goals of the business.
Continued automation can free up people’s time, but it’s important to consider how you can help your employees do their jobs differently. Here are four ideas:
Percentage of FTE time spent doing work that could be automated
In a recent PwC Pulse Survey, CFOs ranked establishing finance as a business partner across the enterprise as a top priority. They recognize that finance is uniquely qualified to take part in strategy, far beyond the tactical applications of the finance function. Getting to that place requires not only investments in training and technology, but reimagining the essential competencies of the finance team. Successful CFOs should evaluate their function in the same way a general manager might build a well-rounded athletic team. They’re looking at not only technical acumen, but creating a team with roles that prioritize key leadership and business capabilities. This approach results in more effective business partnering and a stronger overall function that’s flexible, mobile and has a higher impact on the business.
Business and finance leaders generally agree on the top 10 areas of importance for the finance function, but there’s one area—capabilities—that they all say needs improvement. Finance doesn’t have the right capabilities to efficiently provide the insights companies need to support their direction and vision. This discrepancy may offer an opportunity for your company’s finance leaders to focus on key areas of their transformation roadmap and on building the skills within your workforce to deliver better business insight and value.
Bring your team into the future: Assess roles and competencies to determine the future size and scale of your finance organization.
Develop the right expertise: Enable your people to have both finance and operational expertise. Create hybrid roles with ownership of certain end-to-end business processes and/or metrics.
Based on our observations, companies that embrace upskilling and focus on their people appear to be more productive, collaborative and innovative than the ones that don’t. While modernizing your finance function takes work, businesses that take time for a more human-led and tech-powered approach to transformation can see the benefits of that investment. Now is the time for your business to reimagine the way it works and invest in building the skills you need to thrive.
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