Deloitte / Genpact Alliance
Dec 18, 2020

The office of the CFO: unlocking enterprise agility and sharper decision-making

It's safe to say that most of us will be glad to wave goodbye to 2020. While there's encouraging news with the start of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, many parts of the world still face restrictions as we combat the spread of the virus.

That said, we're optimists. We'll get through this year, and we're confident we'll be stronger for it. Over the last few months, we've talked to colleagues, clients, and partners about how COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change. We're heartened by business leaders' stories on reimagining how work gets done – and done better. Particularly in the world of CFOs and their teams.

This was the topic of a recent LinkedIn Live session that we were part of. Alison Close, research manager in digital business operations and analytics services for analyst firm IDC, facilitated the discussion and also shared some of the firm's latest research findings.

We explored how the challenges posed by the pandemic have uncovered new ways for finance as an enterprise function to improve agility and decision making. We covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • How digital technologies are supercharging the finance function
  • Advice on how to make the business case for new investments
  • The need for new talent and operating models
  • The new roles finance plays as the guardian of enterprise data, catalyst for change, and business strategist

A year unlike no other 

This year has allowed enterprises in virtually every industry to push the reset button. The pandemic hit us, and everything was turned on its head. What has emerged are the characteristics for organizations to be resilient. The underlying themes are convergence and integration.

The most resilient companies have been those skilled in collaborating across the entire C-suite and able to make interconnected decisions quickly. They place an emphasis on cross-training talent so they can be shifted as needed for agility. They also understand that by using partners and service providers as part of a well-connected ecosystem, they can take work outside their four walls without compromising quality.

We've also applauded the organizations that have quickly pivoted to the new reality and set themselves up for longer-term success. COVID-19 has made us lean in, blur boundaries, and pitch in to get work done. The pandemic has shown us how interconnected our businesses are – because it wasn't one industry or part of the value chain that had to shut down. Entire value chains ground to a halt at the same time.

New questions

These lessons are now inspiring senior executives to ask fundamentally different questions. Instead of digitizing a process and squeezing out a few extra points of efficiency, they're questioning why work gets done that way in the first place.

For finance specifically, that translates to questions like, why can't we close the books on demand? Or why can't I have this data? In this way we move from making process improvements to making strategic decisions.

Of course, the success of any change comes down to people. CFOs are eager to take on the challenge – but they'll need to rethink their operating models and talent profiles. We regularly hear that CFOs feel they don't have enough business-partnering expertise within their finance function. In addition to technology savviness, we must look at what intrinsically human skills the finance and accounting function needs to bring in or build.

Finance: The vanguard of innovation

While the challenges are many, CFOs must play a central role in bringing the organization together. They must become the guardians of data and take on a much more elevated and important seat at the table as the insights engine for the business.

About the authors

Aprajita  Rathore

Aprajita Rathore

Principal, Enterprise Services and Transformation, Deloitte Consulting

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Katie Stein

Katie Stein

Chief Strategy Officer and Global Business Leader, Enterprise Services

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