Finance Effectiveness Benchmark Report 2017

How finance functions are transforming to drive business results

Technology has been changing finance. Cloud, robotics process automation and analytics are all now widely used as part of a company’s digital transformation.

But technology alone won’t get you the transformation you need. Not without a plan for how it should also change your organization and the demands on your people. Finance leaders are facing this challenge now as they shift their organizations from transactional processing and toward business partnering.

In our seventh finance benchmarking report, we mine the practices of the world's finance functions and draw on in-depth benchmarking studies we have performed for nearly 600 finance organizations around the globe, so you can learn from the best of them.

This year, we explore how leaders are improving business results by investing in commercial insight, spending less time on transactional work and running at lower costs.



Top performers keep costs down, while pursuing ambitious models for business partnering


In our analysis of finance cost as a percentage of revenue, top performers outperform the median company by 36 percent.

To do this they’re relentless about efficiency. And they’re laying out ambitious models for business partnering so they’re clear on where they are now and where they want the function to be in the future. When they do this, they build roles for people with the right skills and create conditions where finance can challenge the thinking of others, drive commercial insights and focus on business results.

It all begins with simple questions: What services should finance provide the business? What data and technology need to be in place? What roles and skills enable the change we need?

Wherever possible it’s not about automating manual processes; it’s about using technology to eliminate the need for processes like bank reconciliation altogether. It makes you wonder: how much time is spent in the finance function doing what no longer needs to be done?

They’re funding insight work through new operating models and automation of finance tasks

Most finance leaders have already drawn upon traditional ways to increase efficiencies such as process standardization and shared services.

40% of finance effort could be aligned to more value-driven activities through automation

Where there’s opportunity for efficiency, the question is less about which manual processes should be automated, and more about how technology could be used to eliminate some processes altogether.

Top-performing companies are busy investing time and money in harmonizing ERP systems, standardizing data definitions and creating data strategies that will enable them to ask these bigger questions and act on them.


...and changing the skill profile in finance to be more insight driven 


To be a true business partner, finance teams need highly skilled individuals with competencies and skills for problem-solving in the workplace, including soft skills such as communication, creativity and teamwork.

In our benchmark group, four out of the five top priorities for improving the finance function are related to improving team communication, collaboration, quality of relationships and individual competencies and skills.

Not only do top-finance functions spend 20 percent more time on work that adds value, they also pay their ‘insight’ professionals more.

When you have this kind of automation activity, the skill set that you want to hire to is very, very different than what you hired to in the past. In addition to subject matter expertise, you need to have process capability.

Priorities for all finance functions

Adding value

Less than a quarter of finance time is spent delivering business insight

Focusing effort

Even in top quartile companies, analysts spend 40% of their time gathering data, not analyzing

Eliminating inefficiency

Across many key finance processes, automation and process improvement can reduce costs 35%—46%

Investing in skills

Top quartile companies pay their “insight” finance professionals 25% more

Making savings

Leading finance functions cost 36% less than the median finance functions

How we help

PwC provides deep, real-world industry and functional experience as well as peer group benchmarking of financial metrics. We help you simplify the identification of performance gaps, capitalize on the power of data-driven decision making and move quickly towards a more efficient, cost-effective way to do business. Our solutions and tools are designed to help CFOs succeed in an evolving role.

Explore our case studies and analyst accolades to learn more.

Finance strategy

Identify strategies to optimize the Finance structure, process, people and technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Finance transformation strategy: Reduce functional and operational complexity and create standardized, streamlined processes that deliver efficient, high-quality services to all stakeholders.

Finance service delivery model: Align skills and competencies with stakeholder needs.

Finance effectiveness benchmarking: Analyze cost and performance metrics against leading companies.

View more

Enterprise performance management

Align planning, budgeting, consolidation, reporting and analytics solutions to provide business insights that drive better decisions and actions.

Consolidation and statutory reporting: Aggregate and consolidate results for external reporting.

Integrated planning: Design processes and systems for planning, budgeting and forecasting.

Management information: Design and deliver reporting and analytics to monitor the business.

Costing and profitability management: Deliver cost and profitability analysis including activity-based management and product and customer profitability.

View more

Finance and accounting operations

Implement strategies to reduce functional and operational complexity, streamline processes, optimize the use of technology, and efficiently use resources to deliver cost-effective, high-quality services.

Transaction processing optimization: Design and implement leading practices across Finance transaction processes: Procure-to-Pay, Acquire-to-Retire, Order-to-Cash, Record-to-Report.

Record-to-report and last mile: Achieve timely, accurate and transparent data through a smarter close.

Finance applications and data structures: Optimize Finance systems and leverage cloud technology to improve automation, data quality, control and cost effectiveness.

View more

Finance organizational design

Align skills and competencies with the organization’s strategy and stakeholder needs to serve as a strategic business partner.

Service delivery model: Optimize shared services and outsourcing to reduce costs and focus on core competencies.

Robotics Process Automation (RPA): Leverage digital labor to automate processes and intelligent analytics.

Sustainable cost reduction: Realize sustainable cost reduction and margin improvement while improving visibility into key cost drivers and establishing a competitive advantage.

View more

Finance integration and transaction support

Improve the value provided across the transaction continuum including diligence, day one systems, processes and organization integration.

Business combinations: Plan and execute the integration of finance systems, processes and organization.

Divestitures: Establish stand-alone finance operations for separated business segments.

IPO readiness: Prepare for the rigors of public operations including controls, reporting and forecasting.

View more

Corporate finance and treasury

Maximize liquidity position, make funding decisions and manage financial risk (such as foreign exchange rates, interest rate changes and commodity price fluctuation) to increase organization and shareholder value.

Financial risk management: Design and leverage models to assess the impact of market, credit and operational risk on capital resources, which informs hedging and capital management strategies.

Working capital management: Enable transactional process efficiency to optimize cash flow and liquidity.

View more

Contact us

Don Rupprecht

Technology Information Communication & Entertainment Finance Leader, PwC US

Ed Shapiro

Director of Finance Effectiveness, PwC US

Follow us