Webinar reveals that financial transformation is a must to be fit for the future

Being agile in financial reporting is now a key consideration for the C-Suite, says Prosus’s Moveshen Moodley.

A dipstick poll conducted during the recent CFO case study webinar, “How Prosus transformed its global reporting: Digital transformation ensures compliance with governance and legislation in partnership with InsightSoftware”, revealed that 60 percent of finance professionals have embarked on a digital transformation journey.

The reasons for doing so included to save costs, reduce headcount, digitise to allow remote work and collaboration, and to enable faster decisions.

Lorraine Venter, director of Disclosure Management at InsightSoftware, explained that finance has to consistently keep up with the needs of the business. “Since Covid-19 hit, companies have had to find a way to digitise. With remote working, collaboration is important as you can’t just pop over to a colleague’s desk to check a number. So, that’s a big thing that has changed,” she said.

Lorraine added, “The biggest requirement since lockdown has been the ability to complete the reporting process while allowing for remote working, and ensuring control and governance are in place.”

Other reasons to embark on a finance transformation journey, which predate the pandemic, are the need to streamline the reporting process to allow finance to analyse and add value rather than spend valuable time copying, pasting, numbering pages or making notes. This is in addition to the need for narrative integration on graphs, tables or numbers, proper workflow, source and integration from underlying systems and tracking low-level, last-minute changes to provide a multi-layer and matrix-based review.

Moveshen Moodley, group controller at Prosus, explained that the tech sector has been growing in importance for the past 20 years, however the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent economic downturn was an inflection point.

Agility
“We saw shopping and learning moving steadily online while payments were going digital. During the first few months of Covid-19 and remote working, both consumers and companies around the world vaulted at least five years forward in a matter of a month or two. This also drove the need for financial transformation to include systems, processes and data strategy to be fit for the future,” he said.

The importance of being agile in financial reporting is now a key consideration for the C-Suite, not just in what is reported, but also how it is reported.

According to Moveshen, Prosus started its journey a year ago with implementation taking place in three waves: implementation of one cloud-based solution that drives one source of reporting, a focus on financial planning and analysis, and keeping pace with development to be fit for the future.

As a result, the global internet group now has more speed, control and consistency with a real-time connection to multiple data sources, ensured compliance with governance and legislation across different regions, and has eliminated the need for manual data dumping by automating internal and external reporting processes.

Lorraine advises companies to start a transformation journey by identifying what works, what doesn’t work and what needs to change or improve in the current processes. “People are important in the process. Team members and decision-makers should look at the current reality, consider the last reporting period, the pain points, current regulatory requirements. We can then document the as-is and map the solution,” she said.

“Also bear in mind that there is an increased focus on ESG and reporting,” she added. “It is all about the data, so if you are looking at the data for other areas of business it can be collated for ESG as well. Just do it once.”

According to Moveshen, a transformation journey further allows for natural progression on data usage, from internal reporting for board, KPI and treasury reports to ESG and sustainability reporting, which adds a lot of value for companies.

“It’s a bit of trial and error, but stick to the basics and leverage the knowledge of service providers,” he said.

Lorraine wrapped up the session by providing attendees with advice on choosing a digital finance transformation partner. “The key criteria to choose partners include understanding your process, the functionality you are looking for currently and in future and the expected downtime during the process. Avoid IT jargon and ask what it means and consider whether Office can be used as an interface,” she said.

She added, “Find a partner who changes to grow, to evolve with you, that is capable of being flexible with new requirements.”