The new year is peeking around the corner, which means it's a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the last 365 days. Which things went great? Is there anything that could be improved upon? With a fresh start in front of us, it's the perfect time to define and implement some changes.As a CFO, you're constantly dealing with lots of responsibility. Of course it's important to ensure the company financials are perfectly in order, but just doing that won't cut it. As a management-level employee of a modern company, you're also expected to constantly improve the way you and your department work.
If you're not driving innovation, you're standing still. Get a head start in 2018 with these tips.
1. Let automation fuel productivity
When work keeps piling up and employees can't handle it any more, you know you've reached the limit of your workforce's capacity. This is often fixed by scaling up the team and hiring new people, but it comes with one big downside — more employees means more costs.
The current wave of technology has revolutionised entire industries, and it's mostly been thanks to automatisation. If Amazon would still be using humans for every step in delivering packages, it would not have survived for long. Instead, it built a complex infrastructure of high-tech warehouses filled with robots doing the repetitive work, like picking orders and managing stock. People jobs now is often to supervise the army of tireless machines.
There's a plethora of digital tools out there that could have the same effect on your company. Automating some of your core processes can have a profound impact, as it offers a unique opportunity for the finance department. By reducing employee workload and minimising the amount of time spent on execution, there's more room to focus on developing strategy.
2. Rethink the way you deal with data
The incredible potential of big data is lost on many companies that stick to ways of the past. It's critical to have someone in your organisation that understands the importance of collecting, analysing and reflecting on data. As the leader of a modern workforce, this person should be you.
We've very quickly moved from a world where companies had little or no data to a time in which most of them are drowning in it. It's important to note that without the right tools it's hard to make sense of rows upon rows of raw data, but when you're properly equipped for the job it can have significant impact.
Harnessing its power, big data can provide priceless insights that can be used for countless business decisions. For example, if your company is looking in acquiring another company, it can help to analyse various parts of the process, like narrowing down the types of businesses that are worth considering.
Another aspect of business that can be improved by using big data is risk management. Using previous data to build up a picture of possible outcomes of a deal, which helps your company make a well-informed decision.
It's hard to know beforehand if a company is likely to thrive or fail in the future, but thanks to detailed predictive analytics this risk can be minimized.
3. Don't fear change
Changing core business practices can be scary. If you're adjusting aspects of the company that are vital to its profitability, it's hard not to think about what can go wrong.
It's important, however, to keep your eyes on the prize. There's no need to rush the implementation of any changes — instead, make sure you take it step by step. Outline an innovation strategy that defines rules and puts in place guardrails and disciplines.
A structured approach like this can make you feel more comfortable about the fact that innovation won't necessarily hamper profitability, and reinforce the notion that what you're doing is actually good for the company.
4. Upgrade your expense management
Chances are that expense handling at your company is a mess. Don't worry — that's the case for most businesses. There's lots to think about for employees, like keeping receipts, periodically filling out an expense form and remembering to hand it in on time.
But it's also putting pressure on the company as a whole — processing a massive amount of expenses involves a lot of manual labor for the administrative department. It doesn't have to be that way.
Xpenditure is a new, innovative way to deal with company expenses. It offers one central platform for everything from receipt registration to supervisor approval, creating a much better experience for everyone.
No one knows exactly what the future will look like, but it's clear that change is constant.
As a forward-looking CFO you'll need to constantly improve and adapt business practices while staying on the lookout for ways to embrace new technology.
By operating at the intersection of finance, technology and big data, you can be a force of positive disruption while keeping your employees happy and making them more productive.