Are you ready to make the switch to Lights Out Finance?

CFO Insights

In this edition of CFO Insights, we’ll attempt to shed light on choices and trade-offs for CFOs to consider in evolving the finance organization toward a Lights Out model.


In the era of self-driving cars and self-directed teams, the prospect of an autonomous finance function—which we refer to as Lights Out Finance™—fits right in. But reaching that state requires CFOs and finance teams to leap from the piecemeal automation of manual finance processes to autonomous service delivery with almost no human intervention.

How big is that leap? Perhaps not as far as some CFOs might assume. Many finance organizations have already made great strides in applying automation to largely manual finance processes, such as invoice management and accounts payable, but these tools still require people to supervise the process and apply judgment on demand. So, while operations might be automated, they are neither autonomous nor efficient.

Organizations can achieve Lights Out Finance by deploying end-to-end technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation (RPA) and advanced analytics. It represents the difference between using a patchwork of technologies to streamline discrete processes and modernizing core capabilities as part of an integrated function, where different technologies connect in a seamless end-to-end process. The goal: a fully digital function that requires minimal intervention by the finance team. In this scenario, the CFO, whose role is often described as the one who “makes sure the lights are kept on,” now assumes responsibility for building a strategy for flipping the lights off—then figuratively walking away to focus on more forward-looking issues.

That changing balance in the CFO’s duties points to a critical benefit of the Lights Out approach. Shifting from automated to autonomous allows the finance function to achieve an exponential level of efficiency, reduce costs, and become more agile—while digital technologies autonomously execute processes end to end. Human intervention is the exception, freeing up finance professionals to shift their efforts to higher-value strategic activities and to generating more significant insights for the business.

Of course, identifying and implementing a combination of capabilities and tools that can operate as a unified ecosystem can be challenging. Lights Out Finance is not a destination finance executives can reach by following a proven path. Instead, it combines many interrelated advances in adapting digital capabilities. Collectively, they can have a transformational impact.

In this edition of CFO Insights, we’ll attempt to shed light on choices and trade-offs for CFOs to consider in evolving the finance organization toward a Lights Out model.


1 “Accounting for Costs Incurred in the Application of Agile Software Development,” Accounting Spotlight Newsletter, Deloitte Development LLC , May 2020.
2 Ibid.

Get in touch

Martha Fung
Managing Director, Finance & Enterprise Performance
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Katie Glynn
Risk & Financial Advisory
Deloitte & Touche LLP

Ranjit Rao
Principal, Finance & Enterprise Performance
Deloitte Consulting LLP

CFO Insights, a bi-weekly thought leadership series, provides an easily digestible and regular stream of perspectives on the challenges you are confronted with.

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About Deloitte's CFO Program

The CFO Program brings together a multidisciplinary team of Deloitte leaders and subject-matter specialists to help CFOs stay ahead in the face of growing challenges and demands. The Program harnesses our organization’s broad capabilities to deliver forward-thinking and fresh insights for every stage of a CFO’s career—helping CFOs manage the complexities of their roles, tackle their company’s most compelling challenges, and adapt to strategic shifts in the market.

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