AI Magazine Issue 1 2018

Acquisition International - Issue 1 2018 13 Delivering the Future of Finance To drive better decision-making, future-ready organisations need a planning process that informs. That means taking historical data, as current as possible, and using it to plot a variety of future scenarios. Creating a plan from these scenarios should be a collaborative process where everyone involved can work from the same clear evidence of current realities. This is the reality for a minority today. A quarter of respondents only have plans in place to the end of the current year. Less than half can look beyond the current planning horizon with any confidence. And beyond the office of finance, a third say planning is seen as a corporate requirement with little value for them. 5% see it was a waste of time. The Journey Has Begun What we have learned from the first cohort to respond to our study, is that most organisations are making moves along the track we have defined towards being future ready. Progress varies, but there is widespread recognition of the risk and resource implications of manual processing. Better reporting tools are being adopted. Skills of financial planning and analysis, and critically communication, are increasingly valued. Some companies can look into the future with real confidence about what the data tells them. However, for many there is still a long way to go. Even those that have notionally centralized their data into ERP or general ledger systems, admit that much is still stored in spreadsheets or specialist systems across the business. Data collection remains manual and time-consuming for almost half. It is in these cases where the strategic role for finance is most at risk. More than 40% of respondents told us that finance isn’t involved in the development of new initiatives, at best being asked to review the impact of decisions only once they have been made. Less than a quarter of respondents told us that finance is responsible for defining future scenarios rather than testing other people’s hypotheses or validating plans that have already been set. Resilience, Insight, Foresight The future of finance is, like the future macro environment, uncertain. However, this in itself gives us guidance. In times of uncertainty, success can be best ensured by the development of three skills: resilience, insight, and foresight. Making the transition from compliance, to smart compliance, should make organisations more resilient, minimising risk and maximising flexibility by ensuring preparedness for unexpected events. Creating a true capability for operational insight maximises the chance for success by better informing decision-making with real world and ideally, near-real- time data. Also, leveraging that data to offer foresight into multiple possible future scenarios, ensures that chosen strategies have the best chance of delivering sustainable success over the long term. Consider these three skills and transitions as you continue your journey into the future of finance.