Stepping into the future of controllership

Questions and answers for the transformation journey

With the controllership of the future becoming a present-day reality, a new report from IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and the Deloitte Center for Controllership™ based on our global survey take a look at how prepared controllership is to meet future business demands and highlights some insights for leaders to consider that may increase their preparedness. Here are some additional insights and questions to answer on the controllership transformation journey.

October 18, 2022

A blog post by Beth Kaplan, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Kate Gates, Deloitte & Touche LLP

In this time of rapid transformation, navigating the current and future state of controllership creates many unknown variables. With the controllership of the future becoming more of a present-day reality, we wanted to find insights into the state of controllership and expectations for the future demand of the function. To find these answers, our Center for Controllership collaborated with IMA and conducted a global survey of more than 1,300 finance and accounting analysts, managers, directors, controllers, and CFOs to understand how prepared controllership is to meet future business demands and to highlight some insights for leaders to consider that may increase their preparedness. We recently released our full report based on the findings from our survey—Stepping into the future of controllership—and hosted a webcast panel to discuss further considerations for navigating finance transformation.

For controllers and accounting professionals on the transformation journey, stepping into the future of controllership starts with answering some specific questions including:

  • am I ready?
  • what does the future look like?
  • what is my function doing to prepare for the transformation journey?
  • how can we mature into a new role to meet future demands?

Here are some questions and insights to consider on the road to a new financial controllership.

What does the current and future state of controllership look like?

First, it is important to understand that the controllership of the future is already here. It is now—whether we are ready or not. The rapid pace of change has prompted the acceptance of a new reality in which accountants and financial professionals leverage digital technology to modernize their roles and refocus attention on strategy. The pandemic also exacerbated existing gaps between financial controllership offerings and business needs. Despite its challenging circumstances and market uncertainty, controllers were met with increased demand for elevated strategic insights, supporting leading real-time data and analytics tool integration, and more efficient and agile operations to meet the needs of flexibility in finance cycles. This increased demand accelerated the pace of an already evolving landscape.

Controllership in the green

Whether it is now or further along the transformation journey, envisioning a future state needs a framework. To determine respondents’ current and future maturity, our survey questions leveraged Controllership in the GreenTM (CiG), Deloitte’s dynamic framework for the future state that serves as a benchmark of where controllers want to be (“in the green”)—reflecting financial health, business growth, technological advancement, and sustainability.

The CiG framework focuses on core domain areas of controllership and key enablers designed to effect change and drive maximum value. The core domains are key activities that affect the Controllership function and include financial close, consolidation, reporting, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A). Controllership functions that have begun their transformation journey are strengthening these core domains through key enablers such as technology enablement, data and analytics, governance and compliance, and delivery models.

How prepared are controllers to meet expectations?

The short answer—controllership is not quite ready. While controllers can identify which core domains and key enablers require prioritization to meet future demand, many still do not feel prepared for evolving expectations of the function, and more than 60% of survey respondents claim they do not feel prepared to meet future demand.1

The longer answer is that controllership functions have begun their transformation journey but are not yet prepared to meet the expectations of the future function. Each controllership role has a mix of strategic and tactical responsibilities. The challenge is striking a balance between both responsibilities when real-world circumstances tip the scales in favor of strategic activities over traditional core tasks, which might increase risk, compromise assurance, or weaken core domains.

What can finance do to step into the new controllership?

The first step in the controllership transformation journey is to identify the maturity of specific transformation areas and major domain activities. Once these gaps in maturity are identified, controllership functions can begin initiatives to fill the maturity gap between where they are and where they need to be to meet future demand.

This may start with identifying the most significant gaps in the core domain and key enabling areas. In our report, a gap analysis between current- and future-state perceived maturity was performed to determine which areas require the most progress in the next three to five years. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe integrated or optimized maturity levels will be necessary across all four enabling areas for the Controllership function to meet demands. Specifically, 62% of respondents stated that technology enablement and data and analytics need to be integrated and optimized.2 Interestingly, these views were shared by a similar percentage of respondents for delivery models and governance and compliance—highlighting a nearly even distribution of the importance of maturity across all four areas of transformation.

Roadblocks to transformation

According to our survey, the top four barriers to successful transformation initiatives are a lack of time to devote to transformation, limited financial resources, limited resource capacity, and lack of expertise to progress implementations. With that in mind, the following are some strategies across each domain area that controllership functions can consider to help close the maturity gap and better prepare for the future. Strategies for closing the gap between where many are and a controllership “in the green.”

To see the complete insights from our global survey and more strategies for controllers and organizations to meet the future demands of the function, read our full report: Stepping into the future of controllership.

To hear additional considerations and discussions into our report from our panel of industry guests, listen to our Dbriefs webcast: Stepping into the future of controllership: From accounting to insight.

1Kyle Cheney et al., Stepping into the future of controllership: From accounting to insight, Deloitte and Institute of Management Accountants, 2022.

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