The New Role of the Financial Director

This is a post by guest blogger Myriam Radi that originally appeared here on the Sage ERP X3 Blog.
Following the recent period of recession, and in an increasingly complex globalised economy with very uncertain prospects, the role and scope of the Financial Director has undergone a radical change. Traditionally concerned with managing the company’s assets and internal processes linked to their business function, they now occupy an increasingly strategic role within the company.
Their skills are sought out for a wide range of business projects, extending beyond traditional job functions. In addition to their historic financial and managerial duties, Financial Directors now find themselves called upon to provide input for senior management’s strategic decisions, understand and support operational departments and drive business models.
Firmly focused on steering corporate performance, the new role of the Financial Director requires involvement in all business projects with financial implications. They liaise increasingly closely with different operational and functional departments within the company while their role has evolved to become an inter-departmental and multi-country communicator. These new challenges require them to be constantly alert for new information, and to have rapid access to their data to support decision-making and manage their responsibilities.
Technological developments, such as business intelligence, mobility and SaaS, can bring immediate benefits and added value in the following ways:
Business intelligence to support rapid and meaningful decision-making: As Financial Directors are forced to look beyond their traditional activities and embrace their organisations’ sales, communication, finance and IT needs, they are under pressure to boost their productivity and analytical skills. Business Intelligence (BI) solutions provide key performance indicators, dashboards and standard or customised dynamic analyses, updated in real time. What’s more, business intelligence now represents the fourth biggest software segment. Investments in BI have remained unaffected by the recession: global turnover for BI software is expected to reach $17 billion in 2016, according to a forecast by Gartner (1).
SaaS and mobility to break free from technical and functional constraints: Administrative and Financial Directors need to be able to access their company’s financial, regulatory, legal operational data at any time, securely and from any kind of terminal. At the same time, financial systems have become increasingly interdependent, both within companies and on a global scale. SaaS (Software as a Service) has stepped in to provide a solution to these issues of mobility and data availability, enabling greater agility and flexibility. Execs can make decisions in real time, supported by constantly updated data, free from management, network administration and configuration constraints.
The economic and modular approach opened up by SaaS also allows Financial Directors to make a gradual transition, introducing this operating mode for a specific area of their functional scope. This has the added benefit of allowing automation of time-consuming processes and access to sophisticated business tools – without risk to sensitive data.
1. Survey Analysis: CFOs’ Top Imperatives From the 2013 Gartner FEI CFO Technology Study.

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