Finance teams still in early stages of digital transformation

47 percent of finance teams are in the “early stages” of their digital transformation projects, despite 93 percent of finance leaders believing it will be crucial to their future success as a company, according to a Financial Director survey.

The survey, conducted in association with Chrome River between September and October 2020, reveals that while the vast majority of finance leaders understand the importance of digital transformation for business success, they are yet to get these projects fully off the ground.

Just six percent of respondents were able to claim that their projects were fully up-to-date, while a further 14 percent described their efforts as “nearly complete”. Less than a third were at the halfway mark, but only six percent said they had yet to begin their digital transformation journey.

“Even though the vast majority of companies view digital transformation as very or somewhat important, it’s concerning to see that so few companies are far along in the process,” says Nick Ludlow, regional vice president of Chrome River.

He warns that in the midst of a pandemic and with the UK’s future relationship with the EU still up in the air, not having a fully digitised finance team could lead to “significant” problems in 2021.

“More than half of the companies surveyed have not sufficiently digitised their processes,  and therefore may not see a meaningful impact on business success through areas such as reduced fraud and error, improved auditing and efficiency, or control of spend. With the twin challenges of the ongoing pandemic and the continued confusion about Brexit, this lack of preparedness could lead to significant future challenges,” Ludlow adds.

“Another important aspect to digitisation is its impact on employee wellbeing. Finance teams’ ways of working have been drastically influenced by the pandemic, forcing unprepared businesses to implement stopgap solutions and creating high pressurised environments. By implementing software and automated processes that reduce the pressure, employee peace-of-mind will improve. In turn, this can have a direct, positive impact on areas from improved satisfaction levels to reduced levels of mistakes and even better compliance,” adds Ludlow.

Ludlow is confident that the survey results show progress among finance leaders and that the message on digital transformation is beginning to turn into meaningful action, as most finance leaders appear to have taken that crucial first step, he says.

“It’s not that people don’t want to digitise their processes, it’s just inertia in terms of getting going,” Ludlow says. “People need a compelling event to make it happen.”

Like it has been for so many sectors, the pandemic has become the compelling event that forces a rethink on previous ways of working.

“ Coronavirus has made many realise that digital transformation is not something we should do, but we have to do, to reap the benefits to business success and employee wellbeing,” Ludlow says.