This is a guest blog post from our partner BlackLine, on the future of accounting in an evolving world.
How F&A Teams Can Capitalize in 2022
For F&A teams looking to capitalize this coming year, it’s a good time to align capacity and resources to the company’s strategic initiatives and objectives. Understand leadership’s priorities—whether that’s digital transformation, new business models, mergers and acquisitions, or other programs—and focus resources where it matters most.
The ability to fuel strategic initiatives will differentiate top accounting and finance teams in 2022—these are the keys to the future of accounting.
It’s Not About the Hours in a Day—It’s How You Use Them
A key theme we’ve been talking about recently is time and how precious it is—and most accounting teams agree they never seem to have enough of it. Some teams manage to execute on required close and reporting activities but have no time left for anything else, like supporting those strategic projects mentioned above. Others are growing and evolving so quickly they can’t manage without additional headcount.
Teams that find a way to optimize their time by automating repetitive work or unifying data and processes are best positioned to support strategic decisions. Your ability to identify wasted time and manual activities is the first step to maximizing the value you deliver in 2022.
Automation is Key to Showcasing Your True Value
CAOs and CIOs agree that user experience is more important than ever—and that’s not limited to customers. Employees are recognizing that an intuitive and modern way of working provides a better opportunity to put their best foot forward. For F&A leaders, this means recognizing that spreadsheets, emails, and meetings are not only not optimal or sustainable, but not what top talent expects.
Daily standup meetings to confirm statuses, approvals tracked via email, and audit files uploaded to shared sites drain employee morale and introduce unnecessary risk.
Improving your team’s experience results in optimizing their time and prioritizing their strategic value. Accounting process automation is key.
How do you get started?
- Identify repetitive work
- Understand where you can remove unnecessary bottlenecks from processes
- Begin to reimagine processes with leading practices in mind
Innovating with Cloud-Based Accounting Technologies
For accounting, the pandemic created a new sense of urgency to change. Roles and processes were historically tied to in-office work because employees needed access to data and information that was only available on network drives and working with sensitive financial information presented unprecedented cybersecurity challenges.
Accounting was forced to change “the way they’ve always done it.” Teams that embraced the opportunity to innovate positioned themselves well to manage ongoing disruption and a return to growth.
At this point, companies have navigated multiple remote or hybrid close and audit cycles. And a common theme among those doing it successfully are cloud technologies. Leading platforms are enabling agility and scale in accounting by managing data and processes efficiently from anywhere.
A Profound F&A Mindset Shift
Accounting and finance has historically been a change- and risk-averse part of the business—and understandably so. You’re the stewards of critical financial data that must be complete and accurate. Investors and stakeholders depend on your regulatory compliance. And for many companies, existing processes, no matter how manual they may have been, worked.
But the pandemic gave way to a profound mindset shift where accounting is embracing change and automation with a new sense of opportunity. With business models evolving at unprecedented rates—a recent McKinsey survey found that only 11% of business executives believe their current business models will be economically viable through 2023—agility and scale are top priorities.
The pandemic may have forced some accounting teams’ hands. No matter what your processes looked like, no matter how manual or automated they were, you had to change, because suddenly everyone had to close from home. But, this helped many teams realize just how capable they were of successful transformation.
Looking forward in an evolving world, finance and accounting professionals have embraced change in a way they haven’t previously. A recent IDG Market Pulse survey found that 82% of leaders have more urgency to modernize accounting processes after their experiences over the past 12-18 months.
That presents an exciting opportunity to continue to evolve, to step into high value business partnering positions, and to contribute to strategic initiatives.
Skills for Future Finance & Accounting Professionals
How is this shift to automation and cloud technology affecting finance and accounting talent? In this era of the Great Resignation, F&A professionals are focused on joining and staying with companies that allow them to use analytical skills, employ strategic thinking capabilities, and provide value back to the business.
Controllers and CIOs are hiring for more than just technical skills—technology acumen and transformation experience have become important skills on resumes and in job descriptions.
Other skills that are important for a well-rounded future in F&A include project management, analysis, process improvement, change management, and business partnering. Technical accounting and finance expertise and certification will always be important, but the future of accounting is in the hands of those who are advancing and expanding their value to their organizations.
The Future of Accounting
Historically, finance and accounting processes have been reactive and compliance driven. The norm was to wait for the month-end, gather information, execute tasks and certifications, and report.
Today, traditional manual accounting processes are no longer sustainable and only scratch the surface of what accounting is asked to deliver. Leaders can’t wait for a quarterly close to understand what’s happening in the business. The need for insights and analysis is constant and growing.
Automating repetitive work and adopting cloud-based technologies that enable Continuous Accounting gives organizations proactive and preventive close processes and frees up resources to align capacity to their organizations’ priorities. Teams and professionals who embrace the opportunity will capitalize in 2022.
This blog post was originally published on the BlackLine blog.
Read more Modern Accounting blog posts:
The Importance of Including FP&A Early and Often in Your Strategic Planning Process
FP&A Done Right: How CFOs Can Lead in Today’s Challenging Environment