Every CFO’s foolproof guide to the future

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During a webinar, Philip van Zyl, Sulene Botha and Allan Gibbon reveal how CFOs can harness the full potential of technology to make better decisions.

Secure cloud-based software that allows CFOs a single view of their company and gives them the ability to make decisions based on real-time information is a key shift that takes the guesswork out of predicting where the business is going, as well as potential threats.

“Real-time integrated systems are a game changer for CFOs as they provide up-to-date information, allowing them to make decisions that are no longer based on outdated data or having to use their best estimate of uncertain future events,” said Simple Books CFO Sulene Botha during a webinar that took place on 19 October.

This, she added, means they can respond in real time to threats that may affect the business, as it provides a realistic view of all aspects of the business.

The webinar, titled “The connected, digital CFO”, which was hosted in partnership with Xero, looked at how CFOs can harness the full potential of cutting-edge online and integrated systems to make informed and timely decisions that truly make a difference.

“These systems allow us to assess, at any given time, where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there by developing a detailed action plan for the various parts of our business. It allows us to assign the resources that you have available to each step to ensure that your plan gets actioned and, probably most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to be very flexible and adjust as things change in your business,” Sulene explained.

Allan Gibbon, Larasoft CFO, pointed out that each bit of software a company uses is like a Rubik’s Cube and needs to be brought together through automated reporting that focuses on aspects CFOs need. What his company does is provide the data CFOs need for their role in a consumable manner. “We help CFOs and other high-level team members not to have to become ‘export to Excel’ specialists.”

Sulene added that this approach allows CFOs to be more creative and allows them to ask relevant questions when looking at numbers such as revenue, gross profit, operating profit, revenue per employee, and cash days. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us to become more strategic.”

A centralised view

At the same time, moving to the cloud allows companies to clean up their data, explained Allan. This lets companies have a single view if, for example, they deal with different currencies. However, companies need to ensure that they implement these changes in conjunction with a certified provider with a good reputation.

Sulene made the point that a centralised view with all the information in one place means that CFOs can cut down on the amount of time it takes to run month-end procedures, which usually means being “offline” to handle the process. “If anyone’s got a question, you have to go back and do days or multiple hours of fact-finding and building up supporting information.”

In an integrated environment, what you do is move more from a black box environment to a fish tank setting so that you can see the moving parts along the way, she added.

However, it’s vital to have buy-in when moving to an integrated cloud-based system, said Cloud Integr8 founder Philip van Zyl. “You have to listen to staff, who are often overwhelmed with their current systems, and aren’t given any new time to integrate the new system. Implementing any new business system just creates a massive shock to the system.”

This response can be mitigated through staggering implementation, providing specific responsibilities to people for specific areas and ensuring they are well trained, and then starting to implement in the easiest areas; the low-hanging fruit.

Overall, the webinar concluded that moving to the cloud with software that is integrated makes lives far simpler for CFOs, saving them time and increasing productivity.

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