insightsoftware recently hosted a webinar on the topic of “The Office of the CFO – A New Era: Decision Making at the Speed of Light”. We were delighted to be joined by our client, Savings Bank Life Insurance (SBLI), to discuss the evolution of The Office of the CFO and how technology can support better decision making.
We asked Jeff Donahue, Vice President and Controller at SBLI, how the Office of the CFO can leverage technology to improve financial reporting,
“A lot of it comes down to data – getting that data organized and getting it as quickly as possible,” said Donahue. “One of the main things we’ve done recently is implement OCR technology for scanning our invoices. That takes a lot of weight off our Accounts Payable people.”
Donahue also highlighted the importance of being able to extract large amounts of data from multiple systems in a seamless and accurate process. Every month, Donahue’s team pulls from various systems including banking and investment. They lean heavily on technology for their close process.
“It’s really important for us to get our close done in a timely manner, allowing us to do more analysis than just the day-to-day journal entries and building reports,” said Donahue.
There are accounts where 90% of the reconciliation process can be automated, meaning his team only needs to action 10% of the reconciliation, thus saving an enormous amount of time and enabling a leaner team to maintain capacity. Despite some recent retirements in the team, there has been no need to seek new talent because technology has dramatically increased efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Better Insights from More Accurate Data
During the discussion, we touched on which metrics finance leaders should be focusing on and how they can inform strategic decision making. Donahue’s team at SBLI likes to make sure they can track and look toward the future. Reporting tools allow them to make more accurate predictions.
Tracking metrics such as inventory, sales, operating budget, and cash flow is crucial to establishing and maintaining the health of the business.
“The main metric SBLI looks at is something called RBC, which is our risk-based capital and it’s really just another way of looking at your capital or surplus and your equity in the company,” noted Donahue.
The CFO and Finance team are responsible for communicating these metrics and other financial information effectively to a range of stakeholders. Donahue emphasized meeting the different needs of the stakeholders and adjusting the messaging to suit them.
“We report everything to our board members on a quarterly basis, while employees will receive a report once a year on overall financials such as being reassured that net income was good, surplus is still up – they’re happy with that top level overview,” said Donahue.
Technology not only makes it possible to quickly and easily create custom reports tailored to the audience, but it also makes delivering those reports a breeze. Instead of spending time and money printing and delivering hard copies, reports can now be delivered electronically. This environmentally friendly communication method also guarantees stakeholders get the most up-to-date data and real-time insights.
The Best Tech Investments Finance Leaders Can Make
Market conditions remain volatile, and the CFO’s Office is increasingly being called upon to contribute to overall business strategy.
“More and more, in the future, what we found is it all comes down to data,” said Donahue. “There’s so much data out there nowadays and a lot of times companies just don’t even know what to do with it. A lot of that data is financial. Having the right systems allows us to pull that data together.”
The right technology investments are vital for enabling your business to access up-to-date information on business health, see how market factors are trending, and encourage action from your business leaders. insightsoftware provides several software solutions that decrease risk and increase efficiency in your financial and operational reporting.
Solutions like Spreadsheet Server, Wands, and Hubble will automate your financial reporting while Angles Professional and Angles Enterprise shrink your operational reporting cycles, giving you invaluable time to analyze and interpret the data. When asked how technology has impacted the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting for Donahue, he shared with us a big benefit his team has achieved.
“It has reduced the amount of time we spend on close by about half,” said Donahue. “I’ve been with the company for 17 years and it used to take us about 12 days to close the books. Now we can do it in six days.”
Donahue continued to share that the Accounts Payable lead on his team saves 30 minutes each day, and, over a full year, that really adds up and allows them to focus on other, value-add areas. Instead of spending half a month on a close, Donahue’s team only needs one week, which gives them that time back to dive deeper into the financial statements to ensure accuracy and analyze trends before sharing insights with senior management. Such solutions enable teams like Donahue’s to efficiently create reports – both recurring and ad hoc – giving them robust control of their data.
To learn more about how insightsoftware’s reporting solutions can help your team shrink reporting cycles and get better insights from more accurate data, watch the webinar.