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Strategy

Managing Digital Transformation Amid New Working Models


by Hendrik Vordenbaeumen

These tips can help put CFOs on the right track toward a successful technology adoption.

© Chan2545/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Many businesses continue to invest in digital transformation initiatives as they recognize deficiencies and address emerging needs in their IT infrastructure during this time. This is especially true of CFOs, who are managing tighter budgets and seeking new solutions that better control company spend and catch financial errors. These CFOs are on the hunt for tools that can adjust to the unique problems of home offices and hybrid working models and ongoing risk assessment.

But selecting a new solution is only half the battle. Orchestrating a tech overhaul – or even just adding a new tool to the mix – can be daunting and, without the right process, lead to low adoption levels across an organization. While typically a tech project, IT departments are more strapped than ever. According to a survey, global IT leaders’ top concerns right now are network connectivity and security. 

Thus, the job falls to finance. CFOs may find themselves asked to spearhead new technology adoptions, which can provide tremendous value for their company with the right approach. These tips can help put CFOs on the right track toward a successful implementation:

  • Find the right tool. When selecting a tool, prioritize technological advancements that provide more control and drive better compliance. Cloud solutions integrate with financial systems and typically offer a mobile component, which simplifies the collection and organization of data across an organization. They also reduce financial errors by minimizing the need for paper receipts or signed documents, which require manual processing. Another consideration is solutions that are powered by machine learning and can automatically populate and categorize expense reports, providing visibility into discretionary spending as it happens and offering near real-time budget control. Better expense solutions can increase employee productivity and satisfaction, according to a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP Concur.
  • Build a team. Organize a v-team or a subgroup that will be responsible for driving the initiative forward. Involve representatives from multiple departments and from different levels to weigh in for their areas of expertise and better identify challenges to shape strategies and drive results. This can be challenging with employees working from home, so take advantage of the next virtual staff meeting to source volunteers. The most successful teams are comprised of individuals who are key end users and share the same goals.
  • Make a plan. Change is often met with resistance, especially when employees are already adjusting to new ways of working. It’s important to develop a change management strategy: a plan that minimizes negativity as a response and maximizes transformation. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach, so anticipate who the project will affect, how it will be perceived, and potential reluctance and risks that may create stalls. Take into consideration the unique challenges that business faces with getting back to work. For example, establish flexible timelines and budgets as leaders determine when they can reopen and with what resources. A good change management strategy is adaptable. 
  • Involve the right stakeholders. Driving change and adoption throughout an organization can be difficult without the right help and clear direction. Influencers across departments are most effective at inspiring collective action toward a shared vision – and they are the most persuasive with end users. Influencers might be executives, project leads, or even enthusiastic employees. The key is enlisting individuals who are trusted amongst employees. Keep them involved and engaged by presenting goals and progress on a routine basis and asking for their sponsorship. Invoke leadership allies to become change agents and help increase policy compliance and adoption. Complete visibility also provides the opportunity to justify the investment against tight budgets and realize future organizational growth.
  • Enlist partners. A new process is only effective if it works from beginning to end. The last thing project leaders want from a new solution is barriers to working with external partners. Coordinate integration with third-party suppliers early on with email announcements and kickoff calls that outline next steps. Many companies also are undergoing workplace modifications during this time and will appreciate guidance on how to support change efforts. 
  • Spot areas for innovation. New technologies are investments, not expenses. They offer customization to enhance varying business models, generate efficiencies, and drive cost savings. Work with solution providers to unlock these benefits and feel empowered to ask about tailored functionality and flexible configurations. Ask for consultants’ advice on areas to improve and opportunities to streamline workflows.   

Everyone is adapting to new ways of working. CFOs aren’t typically at the forefront of digital transformation initiatives, but they can provide significant value in identifying solutions for today’s financial challenges and managing change initiatives that will positively impact their organizations in the future.

Hendrik Vordenbaeumen is Global VP of product management at Concur Expense.