October 2022

This is no time for finance professionals to retreat to the safe space of transactional work and basic number crunching. Businesses need resilience, and as Millennium Consulting COO, Jeremy Lucas explains, the right technology should put the finance team in the driving seat to deliver it.

We’ve been here before…

From high inflation and borrowing costs, squeezed customer budgets, lingering supply chain woes, through to growing geo-political instability; it’s difficult to imagine how the prevailing dynamics could be any more complex.

At times like these, a little perspective is always welcome. Across the three decades, Millennium Consulting has been in business, this isn’t the first major storm we’ve enabled our clients to weather, and it probably won’t be the last. If experience has taught us anything it is that when businesses are hit by a major challenge, the ones that thrive tend to have certain things in common. They are pragmatic, can change direction quickly, take remedial action, and capitalise on new opportunities.

What we are really talking about is resilience: the ability to protect the business in the face of rapidly changing events. Granted, few of us could predict with confidence what special blend of challenges businesses will be facing this time next year (or even next quarter). But what makes certain companies stand out is the fact that they are resilient by design: they have both the technological capabilities and the mindset to respond to events, whatever shape those events may take. 

And while the prevailing mood outside may be one of concern, we’re encouraged by two recent trends. Firstly, the desire on the part of finance leaders to turn their divisions into fully-fledged business partners has never been greater. If businesses are going to make the right decisions at the right time, finance knows that it can and should be in the driving seat, sharing accurate data promptly, collaborating with stakeholders and generating solutions.

Secondly, we look back on how technology has advanced and matured since the last major downturn. The sheer breadth of capabilities offered by best-in-class finance management solutions is more impressive than ever. What’s more, through the continued evolution of enterprise resource management (ERM) software, advanced capabilities such as AI-driven forecasting and integration of operational and financial analysis are within reach of virtually all businesses.

Both the willingness and the technological capabilities to build resilience are present. So how do you transform your own organisation into a resilient one? Here are a few points to bear in mind…

When retrenchment is called for, it becomes tempting to put the whole idea of process transformation and new technological investments on hold. In fact, more corporate businesses are investing in boosting their capabilities right now than two years ago. They realise this is precisely the time to future-ready the finance function, not to make transformation initiatives a casualty of cuts.

It becomes very difficult to deliver the type of analytical and advisory input the wider business needs if your team is mired in routine transactional processes, manual processing, and error rectification.

Assess just how much time is taken up with processes such as invoicing, close and consolidation, intercompany transactions, matching, reporting and eliminations. These processes are often the prime candidates automation. To visualise how those processes could be optimised effectively within your organisation, it could be the ideal time to take a closer look at the automation of manual processes in Unit4 Financials.

When a potentially significant event occurs, its effects are rarely confined to a single area of the business. For finance to understand what’s happening, you need a holistic view of the entire organisation, including the ability to view and analyse data from across the business all in one place, aligning operational planning with your overall business strategy.

LinkedIn’s recent Skills Advantage report shows how employees “want more from their employers than just a paycheck”. Among ambitious finance team members, there’s often a desire to be stretched. Rather than just running up a report or annual plan, they want to collaborate in making decisions and in driving the bottom line.

The next generation of planning and analysis tools enable all operational and financial planning processes to co-exist within a single platform. Data can be mined allowing a real time understanding of what really makes the business tick, allowing more accurate and up to date forecasting, and the  generation of analysis the information that speaks directly to the challenges faced by the business.

At present, finance teams are competing for talent. Making these advanced analytics capabilities available is not only good for the business, but also in setting out your credentials as a place where career advancement possibilities are very real.

Perhaps you attempted a shift to automated financial management in the past, but the results were less beneficial than anticipated? On the planning side, has a solution been half-implemented before being quietly shelved?

Not all aspects of digital transformation will be successful in their first iteration. However, the chances are that the drivers that first led you to attempt the project have become stronger than ever over the last few months. Perversely when recession looms, businesses should not be afraid to fail fast and learn and to get your shelved initiatives back on track, expert project recovery input is here if you need it.

What next?

With almost 30 years of helping businesses solve their most pressing challenges, Millennium Consulting is ideally placed to help you weather the current storm. For a full assessment of your needs and expert input on how to hardwire greater resilience into your current accounting, planning and decision-making processes, speak to us today.

Contact us today