Over the last few weeks I have spoken to a number of CFOS as they seek to manage the impact of the COVID crisis.
Precious time was lost as CFOs struggled to reforecast their businesses using hastily assembled spreadsheets that had to be populated from scratch.
And precious insight was lost because there was no time to gather vital information and data. Too much vital information was left out of the new spreadsheets.
By contrast, those companies that had agile finance systems could simplify, focus and re-forecast their businesses in the space of a few hours.
When an airline pilot hits an in-flight emergency in the mid-Atlantic he doesn’t whip out a spreadsheet!
FSN’s research shows that over the last five years, investment in front-end or customer facing systems has outstripped investment in back office finance systems by a factor of 4 to 1.
And this crisis has brought home the foolhardiness of this under-investment and neglect. If it was foolhardy when times were good, how much more so now?
During the crisis, the importance of back office systems has been promoted. They have effectively become front-office systems. That’s all that’s left when you take your customers away.
So now is the time for the pendulum to swing back. Now is the time to think about innovation, modernisation and process change. Now we are re-inventing everything and there has never been a better opportunity to build a compelling business case. The modern finance community must not let this opportunity slip through its fingers.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting that CFOs change systems in the middle of a crisis. But now is the time to plan for change and to convince the rest of the board to innovate and change. If not now, then when?
Leader of the Modern Finance Forum on LinkedIn and CEO FSN