A Game Changer for FDs
Rob Jones - IT Lab's Director of Enterprise Applications, sets out what's holding finance directors back and how progress can be easier than you think. You can also watch an on-demand webinar for FDs and CFOs.
Over my twenty plus years helping hundreds of finance directors with their accounting systems, I’ve observed two constants.
Ask almost any FD in a medium-sized business if their technology is serving them well, the answer will – very often - be no. The pains are both universal and mundane: siloed data, off-system reporting, clunky processes. We address them in this blog: How to Tame Your Data for Reporting Freedom.
Ask the same group however if they’d like to replace their ERP system, the answer will also be no - and an emphatic one at that. Why? One reason is that many FDs have already experienced a software replacement and have the scars to show for it.
Previous IT projects left small change from tens of thousands of pounds and were among the most challenging periods of their careers.
Logically, FDs don’t need convincing why they should move from their current systems, be they on-premise or propriety finance apps. They get the argument for moving to an agile, cloud-based environment and would welcome the benefits.
In my experience, the barriers to a new system are fear-based: the perceived time demanded, the disruption, escalating costs and, of course, the potential risks. Finance directors don’t run headlong into risk. In their time pressured, structured roles, they can’t afford to.
Change – and least of all disruption - doesn’t appeal to the risk-averse FD mentality.
Allow the Facts to Speak for Themselves
A Global Survey by The Modern Finance Forum: Innovation in the Finance Function found that:
- 67% of CFOs and their senior finance executives say that too many of their resources are tied up with legacy systems and traditional ways of working, leaving little time to innovate.
- 54% are Uncommitted Innovators who would like to be more innovative but rarely get the time, funding or support from the rest of the board to invest in finance process innovation.
- 85% of CFOs and their senior finance executives believe innovation is needed to drive better insights about the business.
- 87% of survey respondents said they needed people capable of implementing change, someone to manage and drive the processes and technology that will effect the change. Identifying a dedicated innovation champion should be a key priority.
Breaking Down the Practical and Emotional Barriers to Change
The new IT landscape – the Modern Workplace - is putting paid to the fears around time, disruption, cost and risk. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is on a subscription basis: you pay-per-user, per month. Microsoft has done much to decrease the time to value; these days workloads are migrated to the cloud more swiftly.
The CapEx model of the past is making way for an OpEx model.
Furthermore, the shifting economics and the power of Microsoft are enabling new conversations. The barriers are being knocked down.
Choosing the Right Partner to Implement your New Finance System
I'm not seeking to oversimplify what’s involved in a system change. Choosing the right partner is crucial to your smooth transition. My advice? Ask your potential provider to put you in touch with their clients. Don’t confine your research to reading the case studies or references – talk to their clients too.
Ideally, ask to speak with peers in the same industry as you.
In February 2019, I hosted an introduction to D365. Together with my colleagues Kate Hutchinson and Mark Summers, we covered:
- How to transition from your current systems in a measured, pain-free way
- A tour of Microsoft solutions for finance directors
- The benefits of D365
To watch the webinar, click here.
For further support, you’re also welcome to connect with me via LinkedIn.