Digital transformation is no longer just a buzzword for businesses, it’s an inevitable and necessary undertaking. Put simply, if businesses want to keep up with competitors, they have to adopt the latest technologies best suited to their needs. Indeed, in 2019 91% of IT decision-makers said their organisations have already launched or planned to employ a ‘digital first’ business strategy.
Ensuring a successful digital transformation means that people, technology and the power of data all have to come together, and a real-time centralised finance solution is an example of this working in action.
At the core of any business is its finances — it’s what keeps it running. So when you’re thinking about where to start with digital transformation, centralising your finance system and making information available in real-time is an obvious first step. Adopting a platform which centralises all of your financial data means unparalleled efficiency when handling that critical information. And provides your business with the tools to be able to make fact-based decisions faster and with more confidence.
Work smarter, not harder
The current digital revolution means there are tools at our fingertips to empower us to work faster, smarter and more efficiently. Advanced technology provides much-needed visibility into core aspects of the business. Specifically, a central finance solution uses real-time processing to use data with speed and agility and replicate financial documents into a core system. This provides businesses with organisation-wide financial insight. If you have transparency into your data, then you can see where to make improvements.
Advanced technology doesn’t mean humans are being replaced by machines though, it means we are becoming more efficient in the way we work. For example, automation can process a large number of transactions in a company and generate notifications about where problems exist and decisions need to be made.
This ensures the risk of human-error is greatly reduced — so no nasty surprises and more room for greater strategic planning. If there is an error, automation can flag patterns a human operator might not spot and be able to check in sufficient detail.
What’s more, by implementing a central finance platform you are freeing up time for your employees; instead of navigating tricky transactions they can focus on using the report to make decisions that will grow the business — putting you fully in control.
It is up to companies to invest in these modern financial technologies but it’s an investment that will quickly pay for itself in insights and time saved. As is often said – “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
The importance of high-quality data
By now, you’ve heard the cliché ‘data is the new oil’ and while this is certainly true, it’s no use if it’s of poor quality. With years worth of data collected from day-to-day activities, acquisitions, employee cycles and general various financial documents, it’s easy for it to build up over time. But poor quality data can have devastating effects such as confusion, business processing errors and a loss of vital business knowledge.
An advanced central finance solution ensures you optimise data processing by improving data quality in the process. Having access to good quality data simply means up-to-date, relevant financial information. Hoarding irrelevant data leads to a huge amount of over-spend on operational costs. It consumes IT support costs, time and efficiency of supporting systems and the user ability to understand what to use and when. It also hampers all ongoing operational activity.
Empowering your digital transformation
Ultimately, a successful digital transformation comes down to the winning combination of people, data and technology. For digital transformation to work, the whole company has to recognise it’s a journey. In order for this to happen education needs to be the foundation, and at its core is nurturing a data-first mindset – this mind set needs to come from the top as data centric leadership.
What’s more, employees have to realise there are many steps to take before you fully optimise your business and using advanced technologies such as a central finance solution is just one of them.
Tech is evolving at an incredible pace, so it’s vital the foundations laid now can embrace and support new technologies as they emerge. Take Central Finance, it’s been on the market now for quite some time, and as many businesses have already adopted SAP S/4HANA, it is more important than ever for those lagging behind to follow suit.
For companies with multiple ERPs and a chaotic system landscape, the need to upgrade their financial systems is evident, however, for those with large amounts of non-SAP data a wholesale migration may seem daunting.
Thankfully, there are technologies being developed all the time. For companies with a real desire to centralise financial data across the group into one S/4HANA system, they can invest in a Central Finance accelerator package from specialist providers such as Syniti.
Central Finance accelerators allow businesses to feed finance data from any source system meaning they have the complete picture they so badly need. All the required mapping is controlled via a business user-friendly application meaning that the business can operate the solution without having to bother IT — you’re in control.
Digital transformation won’t happen overnight but having a centralised financial system will certainly help. Driving and underpinning all of this is, of course, data. Information and insights are the lifeblood of any company, big or small. Central finance solutions guarantee clear and valuable insights into your finances, how you act on these will dictate how you become more efficient, more relevant, more agile and more competitive.
Owen Pettiford, SAP Architect and SAP Mentor at Syniti (formerly BackOffice Associates)