Organisations have long been in search of the Holy Grail of financial management: A single source of truth they can use for accurate reporting and budget planning. But the reality is that financial information is too often scattered among spreadsheets and other applications that don’t communicate with one another, making data management unwieldy and time- consuming.

Part of the challenge is the lack of a holistic approach to data management. Fewer than half of business and technology leaders have a clearly defined data and analytics strategy, the Foundry 2021 Data and Analytics study found. A haphazard approach can lead to data silos that impede sharing and collaboration and create inconsistencies, since information is formatted differently among applications and updates occur at different times. “Siloed dataoperates on different schedules, making processes like revenue recognition difficult,” says Scott Freedman, director of marketing for Sage Intacct.

Unlocking agility and innovation

In addition, financial leaders and teams who manually transfer data into spreadsheets and reports may make errors along the way. In the Foundry survey, leaders identified data- quality problems as the No. 1 roadblock for organisations adopting data-driven initiatives.

Integrating financial data into a single cloud-based platform improves data quality and accuracy and makes sharing information easier. Instead of individuals “owning” their own set of data, an integrated solution provides everyone with a common, updated, and accurate set of numbers to work with across the business.

Improving data accuracy can have a tangible impact on business performance. A recent Gartner study found that breaking down silos and sharing data boosts business outcomes. Gartner predicts that by 2023, organisations that promote data sharing will outperform their peers on most business metrics.

By shifting to Sage Intacct, a unified cloud solution for financial data, courier service Quicksilver Express reduced the time for doing its monthly close by 50%. Credit card and bank reconciliations are now done daily, reducing errors and eliminating a week’s worth of manual work. And overall accounting efficiency is up by 75%.

Family-owned investment firm Halstatt experienced similar benefits after switching to Sage Intacct. In the past, because valuation reporting took over 100 hours, the company only had time to do it annually.

Now the process takes just a few hours and is done quarterly, giving executives a detailed view of asset value and costs throughout the year.

Data is projected to play a greater role in business strategy in the future, as leaders gain new insights from advanced analytics. 78% of leaders expect data and analytics to fundamentally change the way they do business over the next 3 years, according to the Foundry study. The cloud, along with advanced capabilities enabled by AI and machine learning, will help companies get more proactive in mapping the best path forward.

“When you have an accurate view of what’s going on today, you can use AI and analytics to project that data out and determine future needs and capacity,” Freedman explains. “That helps companies deal with unanticipated surges in demand, or make adjustments to marketing campaigns based on their performance. Connecting systems throughconsolidated reporting makes the whole business run more smoothly.”

You can download the modern the too fast too furious info graph to see the top frustrations of finance teams, read the Ebook on how you can perform at your best using technology or the white paper to find out what finance leaders are utilising to modernise their finance function.

Click the link below to access these FREE resources.

 

Learn more.

Organisations have long been in search of the Holy Grail of financial management: A single source of truth they can use for accurate reporting and budget planning. But the reality is that financial information is too often scattered among spreadsheets and other applications that don’t communicate with one another, making data management unwieldy and time- consuming.

Part of the challenge is the lack of a holistic approach to data management. Fewer than half of business and technology leaders have a clearly defined data and analytics strategy, the Foundry 2021 Data and Analytics study found. A haphazard approach can lead to data silos that impede sharing and collaboration and create inconsistencies, since information is formatted differently among applications and updates occur at different times. “Siloed dataoperates on different schedules, making processes like revenue recognition difficult,” says Scott Freedman, director of marketing for Sage Intacct.

In addition, financial leaders and teams who manually transfer data into spreadsheets and reports may make errors along the way. In the Foundry survey, leaders identified data- quality problems as the No. 1 roadblock for organisations adopting data-driven initiatives.

Integrating financial data into a single cloud-based platform improves data quality and accuracy and makes sharing information easier. Instead of individuals “owning” their own set of data, an integrated solution provides everyone with a common, updated, and accurate set of numbers to work with across the business.

Improving data accuracy can have a tangible impact on business performance. A recent Gartner study found that breaking down silos and sharing data boosts business outcomes. Gartner predicts that by 2023, organisations that promote data sharing will outperform their peers on most business metrics.

By shifting to Sage Intacct, a unified cloud solution for financial data, courier service Quicksilver Express reduced the time for doing its monthly close by 50%. Credit card and bank reconciliations are now done daily, reducing errors and eliminating a week’s worth of manual work. And overall accounting efficiency is up by 75%.

Family-owned investment firm Halstatt experienced similar benefits after switching to Sage Intacct. In the past, because valuation reporting took over 100 hours, the company only had time to do it annually.

Now the process takes just a few hours and is done quarterly, giving executives a detailed view of asset value and costs throughout the year.

Data is projected to play a greater role in business strategy in the future, as leaders gain new insights from advanced analytics. 78% of leaders expect data and analytics to fundamentally change the way they do business over the next 3 years, according to the Foundry study. The cloud, along with advanced capabilities enabled by AI and machine learning, will help companies get more proactive in mapping the best path forward.

“When you have an accurate view of what’s going on today, you can use AI and analytics to project that data out and determine future needs and capacity,” Freedman explains. “That helps companies deal with unanticipated surges in demand, or make adjustments to marketing campaigns based on their performance. Connecting systems throughconsolidated reporting makes the whole business run more smoothly.”

You can download the modern the too fast too furious info graph to see the top frustrations of finance teams, read the Ebook on how you can perform at your best using technology or the white paper to find out what finance leaders are utilising to modernise their finance function.

Click the link below to access these FREE resources.

 

Learn more.

 

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR BOTTOM LINE

When it comes to financial management, not all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are created equal. Sage X3 software for finance and accounting has been built from the ground up with multi-company and inter-company accounting in mind. Rest assured you’ll have complete oversight of your different business streams, accounts and reporting requirements from a sophisticated finance ERP.

Key Benefits

Sage X3 for complex finance does everything that an ambitious Finance Manager would expect, and much more.

International Tax Compliance

Automate tax calculations and manage reporting and declarations as per the relevant legislation. Manage VAT, BAS, GST and other global tax requirements.

General Ledger

Define for each ledger multiple analytical dimensions that can be shared or specific to several entities, to manage regional, departmental, cost centre, financial metric reporting.

Manage Assets

Manage company assets (owned, leased, rented) including depreciation context and plans. Conform with IFRS16

Journals

Create an unlimited number of journals, choose from pre- defined types or create user-defined templates to automate recurring or reversing journal entries. Attach supplementary notes and explanatory files (spreadsheets etc) to the journal for future auditor analysis.

Reporting

Profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, ageing, trial balance and more, with options for creating and designing financial reports.

Dashboards

See at a glance important metrics, analytics information and KPI reporting with lists, charts all customisable and delivered real time.

Expense Management

Define and control expenses linked to purchase requests and employee reimbursements, with electronic approval processes.

Banking Management

Manage bank or cash entries, automate payment processing, inter-site transactions and bank statement reconciliations.

WHY OPT FOR SAGE X3?

  • Sage X3 is made for medium to large businesses, built for genuine integration of information across your organisation to reduce silos, duplication and inefficiency.
  • Comes with built-in financial management KPIs, dashboards and role-based reporting tools for CFOs and Finance Managers as standard.
  • Your choice to deploy in the cloud or on-premise with a fast implantation turnaround and web- based interfaces that are mobile-responsive.
  • Sage and X3 Consulting have a long track record of success, with demonstrated capability in financial management solutions — your project will be managed with competence and care.

DOWNLOAD our Finance guide to find out more about how to gain control over your finance function or contact a member of our team using the contact form.

Or you can take a product tour direct from Sage.

Sage has published a Total Economic Impact (TEI) report on Sage X3 created by Forrester. The seventeen-page report uses the standard TEI methodology developed by Forrester to analyse the benefits, costs and risks associated with using Sage X3 in a global mid-sized composite company based primarily in the US and EMEA. The findings are based on nine in-depth interviews with companies that have used Sage X3 for more than three years.

The financial benefits

The report looks at the quantified financial benefits across a range of departments. In total, the composite organisation realised a risk-adjusted present value benefit of $2,366,986. This was broken down further by function with the top three benefits by value as:

  • Sales Management – sales discount savings $559,542
  • Purchasing – materials and productivity savings – $528,456
  • Inventory Management – reduced inventory levels $367,059

The report then breaks down each of these savings analysing how they were achieved and justifying the figures used. The Sales Management discount was calculated from the benefits that Sage X3 delivers through a centralised discounting approval process. With a centralised control of discount approval, organisations can ensure that guidelines are followed, and local discounting does not breach guidelines. This is perhaps the hardest number for Forrester to justify. Discounting can adversely impact baseline sales (Kopalle, Mela and Marsh).

Forrester is basing the figure on annual revenues of $125 million with discount avoidance levels of 0.2%. There is no reflection on if the more uniform discounting impacts revenue. It is also not clear from the report whether this saving is based on any statistical model or just an assumption. Did Forrester simplify the composite revenue number to show no growth over three years? A similar TEI report (registration required) about NetSuite indicated significant growth for the composite organisation across three years.

The savings for purchasing are better evidenced, though Forrester still uses some assumptions. Global pricing that Sage X3 can help manage and a reduction in FTEs annually make up this figure. Inventory Management benefits are probably the best quantified. The organisation saw a 12% reduction in average inventory levels (for some inventory)  and a reduction in headcount. The report is comprehensive, yet when analysed, deeper does not seem to fully evidence all of the findings.

Other benefits

While the main focus is the financial benefits, it is the qualitative benefits that may hold greater interest. These benefits include:

  • Workflow Automation enables the creation of alerts and notification that enable employees to work by exception. It makes jobs more efficient, as employees do not need to spend so much time reviewing and can spend more time taking actions and thereby make a difference
  • Streamlining document management with documents ingested into Sage X3 means employees across an organisation can see the same version of a document quickly. This reduces paper costs and decreases error rates. There is no financial saving analysis of either of these in the report.
  • Highlighted but not investigated are the benefits of Sage X3 working on mobile devices and the benefits of a centralised solution through M&A activity. There are several other benefits mentioned but not expanded upon in the report.

For example, benefits from implementing the manufacturing module include: “accessing manufacturing transactions and inventory in real-time with more accurate inventories and production schedules”. Other benefits also accrue from this simple statement: time saved from not having to do the monthly stock take, efficiency savings from using an online system rather than paper-based, both in terms of time and accuracy. One of the problems of taking a generic organisation is that some companies will adopt bar code scanners and mobile technology to drive greater savings. While some of this technology is mentioned, its use is not analysed.

Costs and Risks

The report also analyses the costs associated with deploying and maintaining Sage X3. As an aggregated example, it is interesting in that it shows the potential costs of deploying and maintaining an ERP solution. While the total NPV amount is $756,397, this will vary considerably. The sample organisations interviewed ranged across different industries and employee numbers from 50 to 900. Forrester calculates that an ROI is delivered within the first six months with a total ROI over three years of 213%. It caveats this by noting that most organisations would expect to receive payback within six to 12 months.

Paul Struthers, Executive Vice President for Medium Segment, Sage, commented: “For industries that typically operate on low margins, technology investment must come with a rapid and significant ROI. As businesses navigate the new normal, they will increasingly seek ways to make their operations more agile, optimised, and efficient – Sage X3 is an ideal foundation for just this.

Disappointingly Forrester only highlights the risks associated with its financial analysis. There is no separate category that looks at any risks associated with the project and whether these were mitigated.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

The TEI methodology does provide a uniform way of analysing the benefits of ERP solutions. Without further details of how Forrester reached all of its numbers, it is hard to challenge or validate many of the figures used. However, the high-level findings from the report appear valid. Costing savings due to a reduction in FTEs is more straightforward to validate than some of the savings used.

The report also highlights some of the competitive advantages that Sage X3 offers. Notably the ability to deploy on-premise or in the cloud. One customer, a technology manager, noted: “The biggest advantage with Sage X3 was additional flexibility and on-premises installation, whereas other vendors were pushing for cloud services. On-premises was our preference, and Sage X3 was instrumental in its support.”

This also means that savings as a result of a cloud deployment are not analysed. The world is likely going to adopt cloud more fully in the coming months, partly as a result of the pandemic and lockdown. In virtually ignoring it, Sage has left itself open to criticism from other vendors. The diverse nature of the companies involved in creating this report is also a weakness. While it demonstrates the flexibility of the Sage X3 solution, it also makes the findings less relevant.

Prospect of Sage will find some findings interesting. It includes understanding the possible savings that they could achieve and the likely costs of any solution. Most importantly, what functions areas they need to consider as part of any project and what changes they can make. This latter point applies regardless of whether any ERP solution is implemented. Tighter control of discounting is an issue for many companies apparently. If there are savings to realise there, perhaps sales and finance need to first validate whether they have an issue.

The right partner is key for successfully implementing and supporting your Sage X3 solution. Whether you’re looking for a new ERP solution or migrating from another platform we’re here to help. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you contact a member of our team on info@x3consulting.com or you can complete the contact form on the contact us page and we’ll come back to you shortly.

SOURCE: Enterprise Times: https://www.enterprisetimes.co.uk/2020/07/23/sage-x3-can-deliver-a-213-roi-within-three-years/

The role of the CFO has evolved. CFO 1.0 was a historian of past performance. CFO 2.0 was a real-time analyst. Our research reveals a radical new remit for finance decision makers as drivers of strategic change and visionaries of the future. This is CFO 3.0.

Technology may be the enabler driving this change, but the extent to which it transforms a business lies with those who are bold enough to take the lead.

It’s clear that the modern CFO will need to be versatile—marrying accounting, analytical, business and strategic-thinking skills into one package.

CFO 1.0: The historian

CFO 1.0 is a historian of past performance. A strong individual with high financial acumen, this role reflects the traditional view of the finance professional as a historian of company financial data and past performance.

While there is still a place for traditional skills, forward-thinking CFOs need to spot issues and make decisions in real-time and predict the future, aided by data and technology.

 

 

CFO 2.0: The real-time analyst

CFO 2.0 uses real-time data and dashboards to provide the support and analysis that helps a business improve operational and management performance. While CFO 1.0 can tell their colleagues what happened, CFO 2.0 can add the “why” and help the organisation use data to gain critical strategic insights.

And while CFO 2.0 can catch issues as they occur, they can’t accurately see where these issues are happening ahead of time.

 

 

CFO 3.0: The visionary

Our research reveals a radical new remit for finance decision-makers as drivers of strategic change and visionaries of the future.

We are in the age of CFO 3.0 – a new breed of trailblazing finance leaders who use data and emerging technology to create a vision for the future of the business and who are often in the driving seat of digital transformation. Instead of just using a rear-view mirror, data and predictive analytics allow them to look ahead and plot a new direction, making them one of the most valuable members of the C-suite.

 

 

The evolution of the CFO means many finance professionals now have an integral role in data governance, data flow and cybersecurity. This leads to more performance analysis and innovating the business model. This new remit will become key to unearthing new commercial opportunities.

 

Your journey to CFO 3.0

Whether you are already embracing emerging technology and driving digital transformation in your organisation, or you’re at the start of your journey to evolve from CFO 1.0, there are a couple of steps you can take.

Start by assessing your finance function and focus on dealing with risk management, getting up to speed with digital transformation and ensuring the team undergoes ongoing training. Then look at technology literacy skills – they are essential to the future of an effective finance department. It’s worth pointing out that, as our research demonstrates, more than two-thirds of CFOs still make decisions based on gut feel.

The changing dynamics of your job mean you need to keep learning to have the business, analytical and data skills you and your team require.

 

Leading a finance team to achieve its new function

As a finance leader looking to run your function effectively, you need to ensure your team is aware of its changing role. Crunching the numbers still has a place – and remember, automation can help with this – but so does the role of analysing and interpreting data to make key business decisions.

The finance team is there to evolve the business and it’s your role to look beyond the traditional boundaries of the function and make the sort of impact that drives the company forward.

By combining analytics, digitisation and the right blend of personal skills, you can make that a reality.

SOURCE: Sage.com

The world of business is changing at a rapid pace. And for the finance department, that sentiment couldn’t be clearer.

As we move to a digitised world, CFOs and finance teams are being required to move away from basic tasks such as manually inputting numbers and reporting on the figures. Now, when it comes to financial management, they are moving to interpreting real-time data.

However, the next step is to become a visionary within their businesses.

But what does that mean for you as a CFO and how can you make that a reality for your role and your company?

 

CFO 3.0: Digital transformation beyond financial management is a new guide that looks at the evolution of the chief financial officer.

It will show you how technology such as artificial intelligence and automation can help you take your finance team and your role to the next level.

CFO 3.0: Digital transformation beyond financial management covers the following topics:

  • Driving digitalisation – from historian to visionary
  • Managing uncertainty – the evolution of finance
  • Riding the technology wave

An excerpt from CFO 3.0: Digital transformation beyond financial management:

The intersection between technology and human interaction has created an opportunity for leaders to re-imagine business.

Fundamentally, the nature of business is evolving in all manner of ways: end users are changing, employees are changing, and the availability of tools is changing.

All impact the way work happens and how we construct, organise and operate companies. Finance heads have, in the past, used their gut to interpret the figures and understand what it means for their business.

They had no more to go on other than their intuition and experience. But data has changed that and altered the dynamics of decision making. If we look to startups, the impact of technology is clear.

Modern breakout businesses use artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to enhance connections with their customers and employees. Their ‘new age’ and tech-first approach looks very different to past business models.

They have successfully fused human needs with technology, rethinking the way we conduct business from top to bottom.

In mid-sized and larger companies, however, where technology wasn’t birthed at inception, the tide is turning.

All business leaders need to move with the times and digitisation is key to the transition. Knowing where to go, and how to get there, are two very different sides of the same coin.

While the burst of e-commerce has brought about many opportunities, its digital nature also brings about concerns of fraud, cybersecurity and the changing landscape of job roles. But behind all these changes is one driver: the finance department.

Why? Because the very essence of finance is evolving.

The finance professional now needs to be more closely aligned to individuals with the company’s managing director or CEO. They are not just the right-hand person with their finger on the financial pulse of the business anymore.

They are essential in providing up-to-date information, financial analysis and forecasting for rapid response decisions. It’s a far cry from the traditional way of doing business.

Finance professionals used to look in their rear-view mirror to provide business information – always looking behind them while trying to steer in front.

The introduction of predictive analytics is all about understanding data and looking forward, rather than back.

Today’s CFO is transforming into a real-time analyst. Tomorrow’s CFO will be a visionary.

SOURCE: Sage

What are today’s CFO challenges? Well, the role of a CFO has changed for good. No longer simply thought of as some just in charge of the numbers, you now have the tools and technology to become a visionary, plotting the course for the future of your business.

Already an essential member of the C-suite, you as the CFO have strategic business decision making as a key responsibility.

Alongside that are numerous challenges that you have to face. Below, we go into more detail and offer advice to help you solve them.

1. Dealing with Brexit (and other global legislation)

According to a Sage research report, CFO 3.0: Digital transformation beyond financial management, where we took the views of 500 senior financial decision makers, 44% expected Brexit to increase regulatory burdens.

With the UK having already left the European Union (EU) and with discussions going on over a trade deal with it, you’ll already have assessed and prioritised the risks and potential opportunities that Brexit will bring in.

As well as currency fluctuations, you’ll also need to deal with what a proposed trade deal will look like, covering, for example, how your business raises finance in the future.

2. Tackling admin and productivity

The CFO 3.0 research says 70% of senior financial decision makers agree that admin hurts productivity. Your business will look at to find ways to fix this, and the answer is technology.

You should look at cloud-based financial management software, which can harness the power of automation for daily accounting tasks. In essence, 87% of financial decision makers are already comfortable with the use of automation for these tasks.

Essentially, future-proofing the financial industry is going to require technology innovations to provide even more automation.

Businesses understand the impact that financial management technology has in enhancing productivity. More than nine in 10 (94%) agree it will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s finance function.

Beyond the benefit for the finance department, it will also lay the foundation for better use of critical data and insights.

3. Coming up with new ways to help the business with financial matters

More of than half of financial decision makers (51%) say thinking of new ways to improve the business with financial issues is the most challenging aspect of their job.

Your role might be less about traditional accounting, with 94% of financial decision makers deciding their role has expanded over the past five years, and is no longer about fiscal responsibility.

They have better data tools at their disposal, such as real-time data, predictive analytics, immediate data access and a variety of information sources.

These tools provide you with new ways to quickly determine the immediate and mid-term commercial opportunities for the business, allowing you to adapt faster, take opportunities and effectively manage operations.

To achieve superior visibility of business performance, finance teams must have the tools and flexibility befitting the fast-paced, always-on era. Only then can they dovetail with all other facets of the business and collaborate as growth occurs.

Digitalisation provides advanced analytics to improve decision making, automation to improve processes, and metrics for improved real-time financial information.

Increased efficiency offers valuable insight into business operations to uncover growth opportunities.

4. Building a case to invest in financial management tech

The need for improved financial management tools is a catalyst for digitalisation. Indeed, more than two thirds (70%) of CFOs have full responsibility for digital transformation, a relatively new responsibility.

There are numerous pain points and an ever-expanding role in mastering – such as new data, technologies, and managing employee and stakeholder expectations. They are understandably concerned about how to bed down into their new function.

Also, 77% of financial decision makers will be unable to provide insights if they do not invest in financial management technology. And more than three quarters (78%) of finance leaders agree that if emerging technology is going to be transformational, they need the knowledge and resources for a successful deployment.

CFOs have become both the gatekeepers and king-makers to digitalisation. You must embrace your role as a leader of emerging technology, taking your place on the boardroom table.

You could witness a surge in progression that reverberates across the business. Don’t leave your business in the slow lane.

5. Tackling fraud and cybersecurity

The evolution of the CFO means you now have an integral role in data governance, data flow and cyber security, which means you’ll need to be active in performance analysis and innovating the business model.

This new remit will become key to unearthing cyber security and fraud. In the face of increasing cyber security attacks, it’s no surprise this is a priority.

Fraud, cyber misuse and data privacy protection now increasingly fall under your remit and the finance function.

What financial decision makers don’t always realise is that emerging technologies decrease the risk of data breaches.

Using the cloud creates enhanced levels of verification, securing data more comprehensively, as well as unearthing new commercial opportunities.

6. Lack of digital skills

As a finance leader, you should look to develop the skills that are essential to the future of your department and imperative to the changing industry. The task for the next generation of financial leaders is to manage a new landscape. You need the training and workforce to lead the charge within your organisation.

Delivering data-driven insights is another worry that keeps financial decision makers awake at night.

More than three quarters (78%) view technology literacy skills as essential to the future of their department, increasing to 86% in the financial sector.

More specifically, up to 31% are concerned about their lack of digital skills. The skills gap is felt keenly among finance professionals, especially with their enhanced responsibilities.

As such, two-thirds of CFOs (70%) still make decisions based on gut feel rather than data. Skills training is undoubtedly a factor for most CFOs, especially with the changing dynamics of the job.

You need a full complement of business, analytical, and data skills in your team. The need to harvest data rests on your team’s shoulders, so there’s an increasing requirement to upskill and use digital tools and cloud-based services.

Don’t estimate the change. But with the right systems and skills in place, finance teams will be able to operate more strategically to drive the business forward.

7. Dealing with concerns around automation

There is unease from financial decision makers who worry automation may replace their jobs (61%).

Finance maybe needs to rethink its traditional mindset. Rather than recruit finance professionals and try and upskill them with IT and data knowledge, they may need to look at non-traditional avenues.

It may be easier to hire data scientists and provide them with financial training. The skill-set should be closely aligned to allow a smooth transition and may also bring new blood and much-needed diversity into the profession.

Conclusion on CFO challenges

Emerging technologies, such as automation and artificial intelligence, are set to support the finance function throughout the digital transformation phase. This includes the creation of new jobs that will enhance the quality of working life.

Half of all respondents in the report (50%) agreed that emerging technologies would positively impact efficiency and accuracy. The most significant effects will be on data governance (48%), strategic and financial planning (48%) and efficiencies (47%).

Despite the challenges facing financial decision makers, the tools are emerging to help you tackle them.