The business oracles at Gartner recently released a list of nine traits necessary for CFOs to preserve performance throughout periods of crisis and uncertainty. Based on 20 years of research findings and heavily informed by insights gleaned from the 2008 financial downturn, the list deserves review:
- Taking Bigger Bets
- Fighting Scope Creep
- Funding Critical Initiatives
- Facilitating Risk Taking
- Learning the Customer
- Cutting the Losses
- Trimming Costs Carefully
- Finding Enterprise-Wide Savings
- Combining Budget Models
Though each is focused on different objectives, all of these entries share a common trait: the need for financial visibility. When planning new investments, looking for costs to cut, or adjusting 2020 plans, CFOs must possess the very best information available into all aspects of financial performance. If not, they could be making misinformed and therefore reckless decisions at the very worst time possible.
Unfortunately, the same conditions that make information essential also mean it’s in short supply right now.
How COVID-19 Creates Financial Invisibility
CFOs struggled to get refined, frequently-updated insights even before the pandemic started. Now that teams are working from home and often struggling to get the same data, applications, and coordination on which they rely inside the office, information accessibility has become an urgent issue. Financial invisibility happens when companies have the necessary data (often scattered throughout the ERP) but struggle to tap into it as quickly, extensively, or cohesively as they require.
In addition to making information less accessible, COVID-19 puts new demands on that data. As CFOs work to manage cash flow, perfect accounts receivable, or secure loans and stimulus funding, they need access to reports and metrics that reflect the latest data available. The speed and scale of data involved go above and beyond the normal. As a result, CFOs know even less about the details of financial performance.
Financial invisibility represents one of the biggest risks companies face right now. Realistically, one bad decision based on incomplete or inaccurate data could sink a company in this perilous time, but that outcome can be avoided with a few adjustments.
Perfect Visibility at Any Time
Visibility expresses itself through financial reporting. CFOs backed by a robust, automated, and (most importantly) accessible reporting process can access the data they need exactly when they need it for perfect visibility.
What does it take to achieve that level of reporting, especially in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight? Specialized tools like those developed by insightsoftware can do the trick. Each of the solutions we offer integrates with popular ERP products and automates the most laborious aspects of reporting. Then, these solutions generate and distribute reports in whatever format the CFO deems best. That could mean daily updates sent in the familiar format of Excel, or CFOs can take things a step further and access updates in real time through dedicated dashboards.
By making financial reporting both easier than ever while also improving the speed, depth, and quality of the resulting insights, our tools keep financial visibility crystal clear. That doesn’t ensure perfect decision making, of course. However, it does provide the level of understanding into financial and operational performance that CFOs and other key decision-makers need in order to act wisely.
Time is of the essence. If financial invisibility impairs your organization right now, the issue requires attention. Learn more about optimizing reporting as part of a broader effort to ensure business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis.