Most CFOs are pretty clear about their top priorities: making sure revenue and costs are well balanced; being accurate and up-to-date in any information that’s shared with the executive team; and making sure they get the most out of ERP.
Yes. According to a recent survey from consulting firm KPMG, the CEOs of companies may have some areas of focus for that their financial chiefs might not be expecting. For example:
While 70% of CEOs at “top-performing organizations” said leveraging cloud-based ERP systems and other emerging technologies should be a top priority for finance chiefs over the next few years, only about half said their CFO is doing a good job of exploring and implementing the best new technology.
You can’t really blame financial leaders for not putting ERP systems on the front burner. After all, deploying such software across a large organization has traditionally been considered a highly complex, expensive and time-consuming task. Ultimately, of course, investing in ERP from firms like SAP and Oracle has proven highly beneficial to countless companies, but once installed, the tendency has probably been to leave the expensive software unused.
Before moving forward, it’s important to remember, when discussing ERP systems, that even the ones that claim Excel integration require a significant workload to take place outside of the controlled ERP environment. “Export to Excel” one of the most used features, as any SAP/Oracle user can tell you, can lead to data integrity issues provoked by taking data out of the controlled environment.
Enter the Cloud
The cloud may have changed all that. Although the notion of hosting software and other computer resources online existed for many years before the term “cloud” emerged, the last few years have seen countless firms shift workloads to the cloud in order to save costs, ease complexity and get more done.
A few weeks ago, a writer on Diginomica suggested that the steady march to the cloud may have happened without large companies realizing the potential it could unlock for traditionally massive, monolithic applications:
“For decades, financial accounting and ERP systems were designed around capturing critical business transaction data only. The data was the bare minimum required to effectively record the extent of a business or accounting event,” the post read. “Other data, such as operational data, often was omitted from the systems. The reason is that IT systems were so highly constrained with limited processing windows, memory and disk storage that movements of large amounts of data were either time or cost prohibitive.”
Today, on the other hand, there is not only more data, but potentially better data that can be turned to a CFO’s advantage, provided they have the right tools to augment their investments in ERP.
However, it’s also important to remember, when considering ERP and augmented systems, that even the ones that claim Excel integration require a significant workload to take place outside of the controlled environments. “Export to Excel” one of the most used features, as any SAP/Oracle user can tell you.
“The language, metrics and reporting capabilities of a firm must be rethought in light of a new world and competitive environment,” Diginomica added.
In that sense, maybe treating ERP as a top priority for CFOs isn’t so strange after all. The bottom line is to invest in the right ERP technologies, keeping in mind its limitations—like taking data out of a controlled environment which can lead to data integrity issues.