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- Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs Unveil the New Operating Model for Agile Finance
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To help management accountants and finance professionals successfully navigate the business and technology changes that are transforming the finance function, Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) today released a new report that details the blueprint for modern finance. The report, Agile Finance Revealed: The New Operating Model for Modern Finance, identifies the traits of agile finance leaders and benchmarks their success in creating a dynamic new operating model that is resilient, responsive, and predictive, helping CFOs and their finance teams to shape the future of the business.
“With so much data at their disposal, CFOs must embrace a new operating model for modern finance,” said John Windle, FCMA, CGMA, chief financial officer at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “This means they must effectively use cloud and digital technologies as well as ensure that their finance staff develops a broader skill set that includes strong analytical and business partnering skills.”
Based on an extensive survey of senior finance executives and in-depth interviews with CFOs who have already embraced new operating models, the report found that the finance function must be transformed in order to remain relevant in a business environment that is increasingly defined by rapid, unpredictable, and constant change. According to the report findings, only 38 percent of respondents are currently agile finance leaders. To help CFOs and their teams meet the demands of this rapidly changing business environment, the report outlines the key attributes necessary for the successful implementation of a new operating model for finance:
- Cross-functional, integrated teams: Centralized shared services or centers of excellence that are empowered by cloud and digital technologies like robotic process automation and machine learning to drive efficiency in accounting services and improve overall business performance.
- Expertise in digital technologies: Use of new technologies such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) expand the Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) role to be more predictive and enable it to generate the insights organizations need to develop innovative strategies that will drive higher performance.
- New non-traditional finance skillsets: Expertise in statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and business partnering to support rapid decision-making and new performance management models.
“At Oracle, we believe that digital transformation brings companies into the future, and it enables them to be more competitive,” said Ivgen Guner, senior vice president, Global Business Finance, Oracle. “We also believe that the cloud gives CFOs an opportunity to restructure their current operating models to support new business models and more agile ways of working. The scale of these changes can be daunting and that’s why we worked closely with the American Institute of CPAs to develop a clear and actionable blueprint for modern finance that enables CFOs and their finance teams to lead digital transformation—not just react to it.”
The report found that while some major organizations have already made the transformation to the new operating model for modern finance, more than 80 percent of organizations are still in the process of implementing the required initiatives. The report also revealed that more than a third (36 percent) of finance leaders believe the current skill set of the finance function is too narrow and nearly a half (42 percent) said they need more data analytics skills if they are to deliver more forward-looking analysis for the business. To identify what sets agile finance leaders apart, the report examined how these leaders differ from those who are less advanced in their transformation journey in terms of structure, systems, and skills.
- Implementing New Organizational Structures: Agile finance leaders significantly outstrip others in fully implementing the structural and systems elements of the new operating model. They are more likely to have migrated their end-to-end processes to shared service centers (41 percent vs. 13 percent) and to have a fully implemented cloud ERP (45 percent vs. 17 percent).
- Technology Centralization: These leaders are also much more likely to have set up centers of excellence to handle areas that are most important for modern finance like FP&A (81 percent vs. 56 percent) and financial skills development (54 percent vs. 32 percent).
- New Skills for the Finance Function: Agile finance leaders are also more likely to rate the skills of their finance function as ‘excellent’, particularly when it comes to newer, less traditional finance skills like data visualization (60 percent vs. 24 percent), big data expertise (60 percent vs. 21 percent), and influencing skills (55 percent vs. 23 percent).
The report includes insights from 483 senior finance executives in large businesses or other organizations across the U.S. and Canada, including five key industries: financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and finance. It also includes insights from CFOs from a range of organizations including GE Digital, Arby’s, HSBC Global Services Companies, Vanderbilt University, Rutgers University, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.