Put Technology Into Play: the CFO Playbook For a New Era

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In these uncertain times, there has been a lot of disruption – from cancelled football games to Premier League matches played in empty stadiums… However, this is also the perfect opportunity to really improve your finance game, and drive change in your organisation - with a CFO Playbook you can define the right levers to stabilise and safeguard your company, scoring goals for the future.

The severe and wide-reaching effects of the Covid-19 crisis are forcing businesses to reset and rethink their game plans for 2020. For the first half of this year, many companies were in reaction mode, adjusting their processes and adding technology where necessary to stabilize the business. In April 2020 survey by Serrala, we found that 60% of companies were already affected by the crisis. And now that the global economy is moving into recovery mode, the game has changed significantly. Making smart plays today will enable companies to build a stronger, more resilient company for the future.

Digitisation was one of the first steps that companies took to help them overcome the crisis. This was particularly true in finance and treasury departments, which still relied on outdated manual processes and complex spreadsheets to manage day-to-day tasks.

To accelerate inbound cash flows and control supplier spend, CFOs moved quickly to digitise processes. They implemented touchless payments or asked suppliers to send invoices electronically to get fast, accurate access to information on their inbound and outbound payments. This allowed them to generate accurate cash flow forecasts and safeguard corporate liquidity.

These quick moves towards digitisation helped keep cash flowing through organisations even when many employees were working from home. However, with 42% of companies surveyed indicating that their current cash processes don’t meet their needs, CFOs will need to do more to win in today’s economy. They will have to reposition and rethink their priorities, and adapt finance and treasury processes so they become faster, more precise and more connected. Security and compliance are also important, especially with many working remotely. Luckily, the renewed focus on cash management and liquidity has given finance and treasury a much a larger voice in advocating for change.

Achieve Strategic Goals

CFOs will need to build a new game plan to capitalise on this opportunity and achieve their strategic goals in this new economic reality. Making smart process and technology decisions will help them defend their organisation and build an offensive strategy that will save costs, minimise risks and maximize transparency for the organisation.

To avoid mistakes, they must understand the unique challenges facing their business and put the best possible team and tools in place to meet those challenges. Digitisation is only the first step. There are several options at their disposal to improve working capital and liquidity. These include:

  • End-to-end, integrated processes to improve visibility into cash and cash flows. Reducing friction points between accounts receivable, collections and credit processes, captures customer cash faster. Integrating accounts payable and payments processes helps control supplier spend and prevent fraud.
  • Measuring Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and Days Payables Outstanding (DPO) to identify how to improve Order to Cash and Procure to Pay processes. Small changes in AR and AP can lead to significant improvements in working capital, reduced costs and faster cash flows.
  • Analysing financial KPIs with real-time data. Companies that want to achieve better forecasting need access to comprehensive and accurate information from all finance systems and related sources.
  • Intelligently automating cash-related processes to reduce costs and increase process speed and accuracy. Automation will give staff time to focus on value-added tasks that will help minimise bad debt losses and accelerate cash flows.
  • Improving the exchange of information between your finance team and banks, customers, suppliers to ensure you have the most timely and reliable information.
  • Centralising and digitising payments to ensure they are fast, secure, and compliant, even in a disrupted economic environment.

Tackle the Boundaries of Finance

The crisis has changed the global playing field drastically and to compete CFOs will have to be open to change and ready for transformation. They must push the boundaries of finance and optimise processes to accelerate B2B payments and build a more flexible and financially fit organisation for the future.

For further insight, please check out our CFO Playbook, which includes expert advice and real-world customer scenarios.

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