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How CFOs can turn challenges into business opportunities during turbulent operating conditions
Tue, 16th Jan 2024

Chief financial officers (CFOs) across Australia and New Zealand must develop greater agility, improve supply chain resilience, and capitalise on digital transformation initiatives to thrive in the short term as businesses continue to navigate the shifting landscape. CFOs are poised to take a more assertive leadership role in most organisations and can leverage numerous opportunities to drive growth for their company.

Current challenges that CFOs could turn into opportunities include:

1. CFOs need smart ways to extend budgets

CFOs need to prove a return on investment (ROI) from employee spend, whether they overspent during the COVID-19 pandemic or tightened the purse strings. CFO decision-making requires advanced capabilities around how much is being spent on what and when, as well as the ROI on that spend. This means CFOs are looking for real-time data and insights through smart systems and processes. Through data-driven decision-making and full visibility even in a remote working environment, CFOs can ensure that spend drives growth.  

Travel, invoice, and expense management tools play a crucial role in enhancing financial strategies and outcomes. By streamlining operations and offering instant analytical insights, these tools empower CFOs to devise more effective financial strategies. This leads to stronger financial performance in the long term.

2. Employee travel has changed (and so have expectations)

Since the resumption of business travel, organisations have faced new challenges. Despite tighter travel budgets, expenses have escalated. There’s also increasing expectation among employees to have greater freedom in choosing flights, accommodation, and travel dates.  

But, while travel may be more complex, it’s also a chance to boost employee engagement. Thanks to predefined rules, digital solutions now let finance teams automate their travel management processes, giving individuals the flexibility to choose their travel options within company policies. This way, they can ensure that travellers only book approved and safe travel and accommodation options.  

Tracking pre-trip purchases automatically and monitoring travel-related expenses also help finance teams maintain control of travel budgets.

3. Audits and compliance are more complex

As remote work becomes more prevalent, businesses are expanding their search for global talent. However, this comes with a new challenge of keeping track of audit and compliance rules across various locations. Finance teams grapple with maintaining compliance with organisational and regulatory processes, such as managing employee expenses, ensuring checks and balances in remote work environments, and preventing occupational fraud, especially in times of economic uncertainty.  

CFOs can leverage cloud-based tools to automate back-office finance processes to address these challenges. By implementing cloud-based artificially intelligent (AI) systems, finance teams can automate employee expense and invoice processes, qualifying expenses and rejecting those that don’t meet compliance criteria. This will increase efficiency and reduce costs for the company.

4. Talent shortages and employee retention

In today’s job market, talent shortages are affecting all industries, especially in finance and technology. Employees expect digital tools and streamlined processes to support their work, and they anticipate that they will be able to work from anywhere seamlessly. CFOs must provide the tools to achieve this, or risk failing to retain or even attract key talent.  

Automation takes burdensome financial processes away from talented employees and frees them up to spend more time on value-added tasks that drive growth. For example, when employees no longer need to struggle with manual, paper-based expense processes, they can spend more time on revenue generation. This leads to happier employees who appreciate being able to contribute more creatively and meaningfully to the business, potentially reducing staff turnover and its associated costs.  

A focus on the future

Organisations looking to thrive in the next five to 10 years will rely on real-time data and insights to drive smarter decision-making. Whether companies have gone back to the office, are working remotely, or have chosen a hybrid approach, the legacy systems and processes that got a business this far are unlikely to continue driving its success into the future. Digital transformation is inevitable.  

Live data and insights are essential for organisations to be more resilient and agile. This will require cloud-based, scalable solutions that offer a 360-degree view of the company. CFOs that can obtain this visibility, then use it to support financial decisions, will be in a powerful position to futureproof the business and steer the organisation towards sustainable growth and ongoing success.