Weighing Uncertainty with Profitable Growth: The Ultimate Balancing Act for CFOs

by Jennifer Toomey

How can CFOs balance the risks of today’s economy while keeping the cash and talent they need to fuel profitable growth?

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Today’s CFOs are concerned about macroeconomic headwinds, including inflation and ongoing supply chain disruptions. And amid recession fears and rising interest rates, managing both cost-control and cash positions remain critical priorities for finance leaders.

Yet simultaneously, job openings remain at their highest levels in decades, and companies still need to aggressively compete for talent.

The confluence of these issues poses a critical question: How can CFOs balance the risks of today’s economy while keeping the cash and talent they need to fuel profitable growth?

Here are a few strategies that might help:

Empower workers to be more strategic by embracing automation

To effectively keep pace with change and a growing CFO agenda, finance departments need to operate with speed and accuracy, focusing on growth – even in times of resource scarcity.

However, standard processes like financial close and reporting can be incredibly labor intensive and time-consuming. As a result, finance teams are sucked into highly manual processes, inhibiting their ability to think strategically and focus on tasks that add value, drive innovation, and drive the company’s bottom line.

CFOs need to take a close look at their processes to determine which tasks can be automated to close the books faster and drive efficiency throughout the organization. At the very top of the list, should be automating data collection and analysis. Spending hours attempting to manually analyze data and spot trends is like searching for a needle in a haystack. By automating key processes like data analysis, finance teams can save time, minimize mistakes, improve collaboration, and increase overall productivity.

Leverage data to gain better insights into cash position, costs, and market forces

Today, even the best laid plans are just a starting point. However, the stakes of decision-making have never been higher. A missed opportunity – or a missed insight – could cause a company to lose money and market share. Finance teams need better data and the ability to use that data effectively. 

Interestingly, a new report from Oracle revealed that 85% of business leaders have suffered from decision distress—regretting, feeling guilty about, or questioning a decision they made in the past year. Additionally, 72% admit the sheer volume of data and their lack of trust in data has stopped them from making any decision at all.  

As it stands right now, many finance teams lack the real-time data and relevant insights necessary to react quickly to pricing issues, supply chain reliability, labor costs and shifting consumer demand. This can result in an overall lack of visibility and understanding when it comes to profitability and cost drivers.

CFOs should invest in modern tools that enable data analysis with automated pattern detection to help finance leaders uncover insights that may not have been previously known or easily discovered. Having access to this type of relevant and contextualized data allows finance teams to turn insights into action and make the right decisions for improving business performance and efficiency.

Improve collaboration with modern tools and connected planning

The increase of remote and hybrid work environments has created a need for businesses to collaborate better and connect plans across the entire organization. In the long term, company culture is strongly influenced by the tools a business has in place. A high-performing team needs high-performing software. 

For example, by operating on a shared data model, updates in HR or supply chain applications can automatically cross over into finance and vice versa. A complete suite of applications allows for a reduction of data silos, better employee collaboration, and connected planning. This gives finance leaders a comprehensive view of the entire business plan, and not just one piece of it. This also allows for more frequent forecasting cycles, so that as macro conditions change, finance teams can adapt their strategies and execute changes quickly.

This connected planning approach gives CFOs the opportunity to collaborate with other C-suite leaders to identify where to remove costs while keeping enough capital to drive investment and growth.  

Our current economic climate is unpredictable, to say the least. However, despite any challenges that arise, CFOs can balance risks with the rewards of profitable growth by automating tasks, leveraging data to make better decisions, and collaborating more effectively across the entire organization.  

 Jennifer Toomey is Vice President of Product Marketing, ERP at Oracle.