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Struggling to Scale: How Finance Can Do More with Less

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insightsoftware is a global provider of reporting, analytics, and performance management solutions, empowering organizations to unlock business data and transform the way finance and data teams operate.

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As the strategic role of finance teams continues to evolve, the Office of the CFO faces many new responsibilities. Resource allocation, however, does not always grow in tandem with those responsibilities, leading to scalability challenges for finance teams tasked with doing more with fewer resources.

insightsoftware recently partnered with Hanover Research to find out how finance teams are meeting their expanded responsibilities and where they are encountering constraints that hamper their ability to execute on finance tasks. The findings uncovered several opportunities for finance teams to do more with less and achieve scalability, whether the teams were looking to grow or downsize. Here’s what the research revealed.

Most Finance Teams Are Looking to Grow

Overall, finance leaders are looking to increase the size of their teams over the next two years, with 80 percent of North American teams and 64 percent of EMEA teams planning on growth.

For the most part, the decision to increase staff is triggered by an overall increase in budget (57 percent). Interestingly, 56 percent are increasing staff size in response to an increase in demand for the services of finance teams, indicating that the role of Finance is growing across the majority of organizations.

Among the 17 percent of organizations anticipating a decrease in staff size, the top reasons for a decrease include:

  • Automation of current tasks and responsibilities (45 percent)
  • Cost reduction (36 percent)
  • Budget decreases (31 percent)

Looking at the reasons for both staff increases and decreases, it becomes clear that finance teams need to increase their capacity to manage rising finance responsibilities.

Rethink Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting: The Struggles and Successes of Modern Finance Teams

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The Challenges of Scalability

As the world emerges from the recent global pandemic, organizations continue to struggle finding solid ground in an uncertain economic climate. Plagued by continuing supply chain disruptions and price inflation, finance teams are at the forefront of organizational efforts to strategize and remain agile and flexible in changing circumstances.

For the most part, survey respondents said that their departments were at least moderately able to execute on each responsibility. However, just half of respondents said they could completely execute on their responsibilities.

To understand why, we did a deeper dive into some specific essential finance tasks and their associated challenges. We looked at the top challenges for teams struggling with financial planning and analysis, capital management/treasury, and controllership.

Uniformly, some of the top challenges teams face with executing those tasks are:

1) Time-consuming Manual Processes

Among those teams facing execution challenges with capital management tasks, 53 percent listed time-consuming, manual processes as the biggest challenge. For financial planning and analysis and controllership, 50 percent and 44 percent said the same, respectively.

2) Lack of Resources

Half of teams unable to completely execute on financial planning and analysis and controllership listed lack of resources as a significant problem, and 48 percent of those struggling with capital management tasks agreed.

3) Lack of Skills in Team

Lack of skills in teams was identified as a significant issue for 48 percent of those struggling with controllership, 42 percent of teams struggling with financial planning and analysis, and 41 percent of teams struggling with capital management.

4) Inability to Access Required Data

Being unable to readily access the required data for tasks was also a big challenge according to 43 percent of teams working to execute on capital management tasks, 35 percent of teams working on controllership, and 33 percent of teams working on financial planning and analysis.

Solve Scalability Challenges With Automation and Real-Time Access

Whether your finance team is looking to grow or downsize, doing more with less is the key to scaling effectively. Here’s how to do it.

  • Automate Whenever Possible

Eliminating as many manual processes as possible saves time and resources for finance teams. Rather than spending hours copy/pasting data from your enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution and other business systems into spreadsheets, look for tools that can layer over your existing systems and pull data as needed for planning and reporting.

  • Get Access to Real-time Data

Look for tools that can pull data straight from the necessary business systems in real time. This eliminates multiple issues, such as wasted time spent on data manipulation and posting, risk of human error inherent in manual data handling, version control issues with disconnected spreadsheets, and the production of static financial reports.

Using tools that aggregate real-time data enables more accurate, timely, and agile reporting, giving decision-makers in your organization the most current information available when they need it. Further, your finance team won’t lose sleep when reporting time arrives, confident that the analysis will not be returned due to inconsistencies.

  • Empower Business Users With Expanded Capabilities

To address the challenge of lack of skills on your finance team, look for tools that use familiar interfaces to do new things. For example, insightsoftware’s Spreadsheet Server enables business users to pull data straight from ERPs into a familiar spreadsheet format for easier analysis. Let your users dive deep into the data within a tool they already know and love. Rather than relying on extra coding knowledge to get the reports you need, you can rely on insightsoftware tools and solutions to provide intuitive interfaces that present information in a way that is truly useful to business users.

Choose insightsoftware to Help You Scale

With solutions that enable automation and the use of real-time data, insightsoftware is solving the biggest process challenges finance teams face globally. Learn more about current finance team trends and how insightsoftware enables agile, scalable processes when you read the 2022 Finance Team Trends Report.

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2022 Finance Teams Trends Report

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