Intelligent Finance: Driving a New Level of Business Agility with PwC
In a recent webinar with our partners at PwC, we explored how Finance leaders are increasing the value and guidance their teams provide to their organizations while driving increased performance. In this discussion on Office of Finance Transformation, Scott Stern, Senior Director of Product Marketing at OneStream, first examines how Finance teams can evolve from a scorekeeper to a coach role with Colby Conner, Finance Partner at PwC. Then Scott examines some examples of customer transformation with Tana Treearphorn, Director of Advisory at PwC.
This webinar details the organizational attributes and technology required for Finance teams to successfully navigate this transformation. What does success in Office of Finance transformation look like? Mr. Colby suggests the following rule of thumb. When Finance and business unit leaders spend just 2 minutes or less of strategy meetings agreeing on the accuracy of the numbers and spend the remaining 58 minutes developing insights and solving challenges, the Office of Finance Transformation can be deemed a success.
While a bit simplistic, this “2-minute test” illustrates exactly what Finance leaders of sophisticated organizations should strive to achieve. Under this ideal, Finance transcends the role of data aggregator and summarizer to become a trusted partner of business unit leaders. Transforming essentially elevates Finance’s role to focus on providing insights and guidance to drive performance for the entire organization.
Why Embark on the Office of Finance Transformation Journey?
Mr. Conner explains how today’s organizations have an urgent need for Finance to better support the business. He describes how many factors – including increasing economic pressure, emerging technology, new data sources and increasing data volumes – all challenge organizational performance. He then describes how these internal and external factors present opportunities for Finance to lead at speed to not only meet the pace of change but also conquer increasing complexity.
He also examines how many Finance organizations limit their role to being scorekeepers. These teams spend much of their time wrangling data and reconciliations with a focus on aggregating data and producing reports. In contrast, organizations that have embarked on an Intelligent Finance journey progress to a coach role and add value by providing knowledge, insights and operational decision guidance across their organizations.
Finance teams that complete this journey evolve to become owners of an “insight supply chain.” These teams can then take data from inside the organization and turn it into insights to define new futures and create market leadership.
Addressing Office of Finance Transformation Challenges
So why isn’t every Finance team successfully launching this transformation? The answer is pretty simple: there are significant challenges to realizing an Office of Finance Transformation. The primary challenges are outdated technology and manual processes that force many teams to spend too much time managing data and tools instead of conducting analysis and providing insights.
Mr. Conner redefines these challenges as being opportunities. He suggests Finance teams turn the status quo of manual tasks and inefficient processes into the “fuel” that powers transformation. More specifically, he argues that implementing a modern corporate performance management (CPM) solution to automate processes will give Finance teams the extra time they need. That time allows Finance teams to first spend time implementing transformation and ultimately find themselves with the time needed for high-value analysis and insight development.
Mr. Conner specifically identifies OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform as a solution that empowers Finance teams in two ways. First, it gives teams the ability to begin the Office of Finance Transformation by conquering the complexity of CPM processes. Second, it provides teams the capability to complete that transformation with advanced analysis and reporting. Some example opportunities to increase efficiencies in CPM processes include streamlining the financial close process or building efficiencies in reporting or budgeting & forecasting (see Figure 1). He explains that OneStream’s powerful process automation capabilities enable Finance teams to automate processes and eliminate wasted time spent on manual efforts.
Five Attributes for Finance Transformation Success
Mr. Conner then defines the five organizational attributes (see Figure 2) for Finance Transformation success and provides a detailed explanation of each.
A key highlight of these attributes included a discussion of how Finance teams absolutely must build trust across the organization as a coach for the operational business units – moving the role of Finance from Scorekeeper to Value Adder and Wealth Creator. While many factors will engender trust (see Figure 3), Mr. Conner specifies that Finance teams must maintain confidence in numbers that are shared with the organization on a timely basis. In his words, “If the data isn’t always right, if it is always being revised or if it takes too long to put together, then it erodes trust.”
He also explains that Finance teams must understand each operational unit’s goals and have the analytic ability to provide insightful and relevant analysis. He identified the OneStream Intelligent Finance platform as having not only the financial data quality capability to build confidence in governed financial and operational data, but also the ability to empower advanced financial and operational analytics.
Intelligent Finance in Action
To close out the webinar, Tana Treearphorn shares two customer examples of Finance Transformation. In the first example, he examines how a $21B SaaS provider of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) services and complimentary enterprise applications (e.g., customer service, marketing automation, analytics and application development) conquered the complexity of rapid growth. With the OneStream platform and guidance from PwC, this Finance team transformed from being a report provider who spent 80% of their time reconciling data to being the provider of insights to the entire organization.
In the second example, Mr. Treearphorn shares how PwC guided a $75B global freight and logistics provider using the OneStream platform to unify their fragmented closing and planning processes from across the globe. In doing so, the provider powered their transformation by building efficiency in their processes and increasing the relevance of their operations insights.
To learn more about how OneStream empowers organizations to lead at speed in Office of Finance Transformation and how PwC guides organizations on that journey, watch the webinar replay of “Intelligent Finance: Driving a New Level of Business Agility.” And if you’re ready to conquer complexity in your own Office of Finance Transformation, contact OneStream today.
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