Finance Transformation UK Founder Michael Ryan explains why Strategy must always come first in the race to Automate.
Automation, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The modern CFO is bombarded with messages to drive Finance Automation.
Every Survey tells the same story, top of the CFO Agenda is Finance Automation. All that differs is the technology you are being offered to achieve this.
At Finance Transformation UK we are Finance people first and foremost, the technology however advanced, comes second.
A primary responsibility of the CFO is to set the Strategic direction of Finance to support the Business in maximising shareholder value. Therefore, the technology does not drive Finance Transformation it enables it, wherever this is appropriate and adds value to do so.
We always work from first principles with Clients to determine their optimum Strategy first. The Vision, the Strategy and Tactical Objectives are all formulated technology agnostic. If we don't see value in deploying technology to transform your Finance function, we don't recommend it.
We appreciate how confusing the current technological landscape is, with regards to Finance Automation, as it is evolving at a faster pace than ever before.
The modern CFO is more than ever in need of an independent assessment of their Finance Strategy and the most appropriate options to deliver it.
Our approach to Finance Strategy development is based on three questions before any technology is considered:
1. Exam Question 2. Current Operating Model 3. Benefit Priorities
Firstly, we define the Exam Question. Working with senior stakeholders we define and agree on why we are here. What fundamental Question in the operation of the Finance function are we addressing? That could be cost reduction, staff retention, one version of the truth, customer profitability, data analytics, regulatory requirements, process compliance or team development.
We then assess the Current Operating Model (COM). This is an independent assessment of Finance, including the team, its performance, customer rating, current systems and its culture. This assessment of COM must reinforce that there is an Exam Question to be answered.
It is critical that the Current Operating Model is benchmarked. As
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."
All of Finance at a total and individual process level must be benchmarked. Then and only then can you compare current process cost and efficiency to its Finance Automation equivalent.
Otherwise, you are investing in Finance Automation technology without knowing whether it delivers a saving or not.
The next step is Benefit Priorities. There is no doubt that Finance Process Automation either via Robotics or Artificial Intelligence can deliver process effectiveness. However, it may not be a priority for the CFO to invest in Finance Process Automation if the size of the Finance Process teams does not warrant it.
For Finance Process Automation to deliver real cost savings, either via RPA or AI, it is best deployed at scale. Scale is defined in headcount and processing volumes.
High volume processing environments with processing teams of 20 plus would deliver benefits that justify Finance Automation becoming a CFO priority.
In addition, any Finance processing team that has experienced single points of failure during the adoption of remote working should consider Finance Automation as a priority.
If you would like our help to define your Finance Strategy, then book a free 2-hour consultation today. No matter how much the Technology surges ahead, it's Strategy first every time.
Author: Michael Ryan
With 25 years' experience Transforming Finance across multiple Sectors as a Consultant and as a Finance Transformation Leader, Michael Ryan is uniquely placed to advise Clients on creating a World Class Finance Team. Call him now on 0203 1466878