Taking the reins

Controllership’s new approach to technology-enabled transformation

Controllership can harness the capabilities of emerging technologies and optimize the function’s value by taking the reins and performing a more hands-on role throughout the transformation and implementation process. Here are some considerations for finance leaders on the elements of their involvement that can drive successful outcomes and leading-edge transformation.

July 25, 2023

A blog post by Beth Kaplan, Katie Glynn, Brad Schulte & Shipra Khurana

Today’s imperative to transform through emerging technology is changing the financial landscape. Things are evolving rapidly and on such a massive scale; it may seem like we can never keep up. This rapid pace of change drives the accelerated digital transformation of controllership—affecting operating models, data models, processes, strategies, roles—essentially the whole function. The speed and scale of this shift can leave controllers feeling uneasy about embracing emerging technology while maintaining stewardship over their organization’s financial information.

The fact is, transformation through technology is hard, and that uneasy feeling is usually grounded in past challenging experiences. Today, organizations are struggling through their technology-enabled transformations, and many fail to successfully achieve their sought-after objectives. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to successful transformation is ownership. Controllership can harness the capabilities of emerging technologies, operate efficiently through change, and optimize the function’s value by “taking the reins” and having a more hands-on role throughout the implementation process.

Next, we further explore how leaders within controllership can lean into their technology-driven evolution to optimize success.

Key drivers of transformation

While achieving successful transformation by leveraging technology can be challenging, the benefits are driving a transformation imperative at most organizations. Exploring the primary drivers of transformation within controllership helps in understanding why technology is being relied upon to drive the business toward achieving a future-state vision and strategy.

  • The evolving role of the controller: A key imperative of many controllers’ organizations is to become a more strategic, collaborative business partner to key stakeholders throughout the organization.
  • Maximizing technology: Today’s innovative technology can truly transform business processes. The emerging technologies such as data processing, artificial intelligence (AI), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and user experience cannot be ignored in terms of value market trends.
  • Harvesting optimized data value: Data is expanding and accelerating exponentially. Whether it is core financial data or other data delivered daily, there needs to be an ability to have control over data in a centralized, flexible model that can be exploited to drive business insights and reporting.
  • Standardizing for success: Evolving nonstandardized processes effectively to accommodate standard functionalities and automation, particularly for those processes that have been nonstandardized for years, is a key driver of why organizations are looking for finance transformation today.
  • Scaling to grow: Aligning with the changing operational landscape and transformations to meet new security and compliance requirements such as the recent environmental, social, and governance reporting/disclosure requirements. The business may be in one place right now, but projections may show the business is going somewhere different in the near future. These projections lead to questions about technology and solutions that need to be in place for the business’s future.
  • Struggling with resources: The need for additional resources and bandwidth to support a full-scale transformation. Doing more with less is always the challenge. Finding ways to engage the workforce away from more manual tasks and toward becoming more of a strategic business partner enables the organization to be more efficient with its resources.

Elements of controllership’s involvement in a successful digital transformation

Enhanced, targeted involvement by the controller’s organization in its technology implementation can help achieve its vision for transformation. With a focus on the following key areas, organizations can drive outcomes that reflect their organizational requirements and aspirations and achieve best-in-class transformation.

Skill sets and capabilities of an effective business integration team

As the pace of transformation continues to accelerate, finance leaders and organizations that attach their roles to implementation must create tangible benchmarks to measure success. When your team is just at the starting line, there are ways to measure skills and team dynamics that benefit transformation. Consider these attributes that can help ensure a team is set up for success.

Explore additional considerations and real-world perspectives about finance’s role in technology-enabled transformation in our webcast Dbriefs, “Taking the reins: Finance’s role in technology-enabled transformation,” the first in a series of explorations around the evolving relationship between finance and technology transformation and how controllers can play a more impactful role to drive the future of controllership.

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