Highly effective financial organizations can significantly improve data quality and usability of financial data beyond compliance and market filing requirements, helping to improve strategic planning, operational decision-making and rapid course correction for the enterprise. With so many benefits and so much opportunity, the CFO's office usually wants to realize these improvements as quickly and easily as they can. Software companies are eager to market and sell them as a supposedly turnkey, out-of-the-box software solution.
However, the right solution for any individual organization exists beyond what is included in the application software. Achieving success requires a holistic approach that extends beyond choosing software functionality. It requires an understanding of the existing environment, alignment to best practices gleaned from world-class processes. This helps define the desired financial close and reporting strategy, specific data and process requirements, and a careful plan for implementation and adoption. Smart companies should build an understanding of the current state and best practices adopted across people, process and technology by leading organizations.
Approach to Transforming Financial Close for Success
Organizations need to take a thoughtful and strategic approach to choosing their application solution as well as an actionable path to achieving it. This requires a ‘strategy-first’ approach, which is too often neglected when organizations jump to choosing a software solution. The case for conducting a proper financial close and reporting strategy and planning project is strong and the organization must bolster this case to overcome the objections about its timing and cost, both in terms of capital investment and work it will require.
For many organizations, the temptation to fast-forward software purchases and implementation often leads to more costs and problems than the software was supposed to solve. Fortunately, this is easily avoided with some basic strategy and planning due diligence.
Most experienced managers know this is the case with any key business function. Financial close and reporting is no different. The immediate objections to proper financial close and reporting strategy and planning are often around the idea that the extra steps will take longer and cost more than not doing them. While strategy does take time and money, in most situations a strong case can be made that good strategy will actually reduce implementation time and post-implementation costs more than enough to justify the up-front investment.