3 Ways CFOs Can Manage Change in an Evolving Industry

by Steve Cox

Identifying barriers to change, involving IT, and communicating key transition milestones creatively can help CFOs embrace and build the finance function of the future.


Admit it—you’re sick of hearing the words “digital,” “transformation,” or anything to do with change.

I don’t blame you. The ways of working with numbers have evolved slowly, in fact, the last big finance revolution—the introduction of the spreadsheet—happened four decades ago. 

But there’s no getting around it: the days of stability are long gone. We now live in a world of continuous change. The pace of innovation in the digital age is far outstripping the ability of most businesses to keep up. 

Yet with unrelenting change comes a continual flow of new opportunities. New innovations such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain are only beginning to upend traditional ways of doing business. To be ready to jump on these still-unforeseen opportunities, finance leaders must be adaptable and agile. They must start building tomorrow’s finance, today. 

Here are three steps to get started.

Identify Barriers to Change

It is critical to begin with a baseline understanding of the potential barriers to change within the organization. This includes an evaluation of the skills required or training needed to ensure employees can utilize the full capabilities of digital technologies and processes. When embarking on a digital transformation, build in adequate time for training. Clearly communicating the overall strategy will keep employees engaged and confident in navigating the impact on their specific roles.  

Also consider a change management board that is responsible for identifying what does and doesn’t work, and what employees will need to adapt to new technologies. For example, when Boise State implemented its cloud ERP system, it created a Campus Engagement team with representatives from various campus divisions. This team monitored several business processes to find the best way to streamline everyone into one system.  

Don’t Forget the IT Team 

The IT team plays a big role in a company’s journey to a digital world. When included, IT can ensure that new, cloud-based technologies integrate with existing systems, help mitigate potential issues, and allocate proper resources to support a timely implementation. Involve IT in the selection of cloud systems and give them ample time to explore the new tools. Be sure to identify key points of change, plan for corresponding impacts, and disseminate the appropriate information to everyone in the department so they feel empowered to work through the adjustment phase. The key is to help the IT team understand the value and personal benefits of moving finance to the cloud.

Also, make sure your organization has the talent and skillset to support a cloud transition before and after implementation. Addressing the “people impact” throughout the transformation process will ensure adoption across the organization. And if employees are engaged, finance teams stand to reap the full benefits of digital transformation strategies and investments.  

Be Creative in Communicating Key Transition Milestones

Ongoing communication with employees will be crucial throughout the cloud adoption process. Find ways to inform them about key updates and milestones. Use collaboration platforms, e-learning management systems, educational videos, pop-up stands in common areas, or even internal microsites to house up-to-date information about the transformation project. Involving employees will empower them to quickly adopt the new technologies coming into effect. 

In today’s environment of continuous change, transformation is not an option—it’s imperative. Change management will be an essential element to success, and will rely upon an organization’s staff. A finance team’s biggest asset will always be its people, so it’s important they are on board to collectively embrace and build the finance function of the future. 

Steve Cox is group vice president, ERP and EPM Product Marketing, at Oracle