CFOs Say Keeping Up with Technology is No. 1 Concern

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Allegra Nagler
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What is the greatest source of pressure facing accounting and finance functions these days?

According to a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey of 2,200 CFOs in more than 20 US markets, 41 percent said staying current with changing technology is the greatest pressure facing their accounting and finance teams. Meeting regulatory compliance mandates was the next-biggest pressure for 24 percent of CFOs.

“While technology can help firms enhance their compliance efforts and support regulatory processes, technology is only as good as the people using it,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in San Ramon, California. “No matter how sophisticated the technology is or how large organizations' investment in the latest and greatest tools is, businesses won't reap the rewards from these resources without the right people in place. Technology is automating more accounting and finance processes, but companies have a greater need for skilled financial professionals who can use these systems and platforms.”

Hird noted that keeping pace with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems (systems applications products, cloud storage, and data-mining and business intelligence tools) and using them effectively are impossible without skilled teams.

“Companies need accounting and finance staff who are proficient with ERP systems, are able to automate financial processes, and can tap business intelligence tools to mine data they can turn into strategic guidance,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a statement.

Hird added: “Data is powerful, but companies need to understand how they can capture and harness it. Business intelligence systems can help organizations mine the data and use it to make strategic recommendations. Without professionals who understand how to make the best use of these technologies in place, companies are lost.”

In the same survey, 17 percent of CFOs said their greatest pressure was harnessing and managing big data, while 16 percent said their top concern was finding and keeping skilled staff.

Hird noted that just as companies need to invest in technology, they must equally invest in their teams.

To keep up with changing technology needs, Hird suggests professionals do the following:

  • Be curious about the technologies affecting your business and profession.
  • Identify where you need to build your expertise. Talk to your manager about training programs or courses administered by external providers.
  • Volunteer for projects involving new technology. For example, if your department is implementing a new ERP system, offer to be a part of the implementation team. Jump in with both feet to learn as much as you can.

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