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March 15, 2024

Creating long-term benefits from a finance transformation project

Here is what you can do pre- and post-go-live to improve the ROI of your investment.

Throughout the course of a transformation project, stakeholders in the organization tend to keep the benefits of their hard work top of mind. This makes sense considering organizations undertake finance transformations to achieve specific goals, and reminding oneself of the eventual benefits of the transformation can help a stakeholder stay motivated.

What also stays top of mind for CFOs and other stakeholders in a finance cloud transformation is the fear that the benefits—or at least what was promised—won’t be realized at the end of the project. Not all transformations achieve their desired ROI, which begs the question: how can organizations set themselves up for success during and after the initial transformation project?

The benefits of a finance transformation project

The benefits from a transformation project in finance fall into two buckets: short term and long term.

In the short term (in other words, soon after the go-live of a modern financial management system), CFOs will see a number of benefits, including:

  • Instant access to more detailed financial data across the global organization
  • Faster business processes, including time to close
  • A single source of truth for all financial data
  • More reliable data
  • The ability to automate many manual finance tasks

While these benefits alone would provide sufficient ROI for a transformation project, one of the greatest values that a finance transformation provides is the ability to operate more strategically. For example, scenario planning tools and other features allow organizations to plan ahead with greater accuracy.

Some of the long-term benefits afforded by a finance transformation include:

  • The ability for finance to operate more proactively and less reactively
  • Improved collaboration between finance and others in the organization
  • Greater agility, both for finance teams and the organization at large
  • A change in the role of the CFO and the finance team in general

These long-term benefits tend to align with the key organizational goals of senior leadership and can be what initially prompted them to pursue a finance transformation. They are thus the end goal of the transformation process.

Creating long-term benefits from a finance transformation

Key to achieving the big-picture, long-term benefits of a finance transformation is to embrace the idea that this is not just a technological upgrade but a total restructuring of how the organization thinks and operates. While the deployment of a modern finance management platform is critical to achieving long-term benefits, the technology only helps lay the foundation for change. It is the transformation of internal processes, roles and data, as well as how teams embrace these sweeping changes that allow organizations to meet their transformation goals.

The stakeholders of a transformation project need to understand that this will be more than just a technology upgrade and will change how the internal finance team operates and how that impacts the organization at large.

Create a new vision of finance

Organizations that have undergone a successful transformation will frequently have a clear picture of how they would like their finance teams to look in 4–5 years. This vision can include knowing which finance roles will change in the future, how technology will be leveraged to help drive strategic planning, and what finance’s new role will be in the company at large.

While the CFO can be the one that creates this plan for the future, they will need the rest of the C-suite to buy into it. The CIO needs to know what technologies will be needed to help execute this vision, asking questions like, “Will a new cloud-based financial management system provide all of the necessary functionality and data, or will we need additional solutions for something like robotic process automation?”

The CHRO needs to know what skills the future finance team will need and how the department will be structured so that they can start the process of reskilling existing employees or hiring new ones.

Just about every department will be impacted by a digitally transformed finance department, so department heads will need to be bought into this new vision of finance and be ready to support it before, during and after go-live.

Maintain momentum post-go-live

Transitioning to a modern financial management system is a huge accomplishment and can seem like the end of a long, difficult journey. However, going live with a new solution is just the first phase in the transformation process, and finance leaders need to channel that momentum into delivering long-term changes.

To that end, change teams need to consider how to approach digital adoption post-go-live. The teams leading the change will need to ask questions including:

  • Where can users find FAQs, training videos and other media that they may need when they have a question?
  • Will users have in-app training the first time they log in to the new system?
  • How will users keep up to date with changes in the new solution, such as new features and large updates?
  • How will your organization monitor adoption, identify problem areas and resolve common issues?

In addition to digital adoption, organizations need to commit to a cadence of monitoring the results of a transformation, making continual adjustments and refinements based on feedback and analysis, and then evaluating the results. No finance transformation is ever really finished; it is a continuous process that takes into account shifts in the marketplace, new technologies and changes in business strategy.

A modern finance team

A finance transformation is about what finance teams can bring to the organization at large, including:

  • More data-backed insights
  • Better collaboration between finance teams and the rest of the organization
  • The ability to respond to change quickly

Finance teams that truly embrace this new role will be better equipped to support their organizations and provide greater value. Those that simply focus on updating technology will end up behind the curve, limiting organizational success.

Cognizant Workday Practice
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