The future-proofing CFO challenges and opportunities in the post-Covid era

We are in the final stretch of a year that will most likely be one of the periods of greatest transformation for companies, caused by the well-known health alert that changed the entire world, and also driven by the implementation of laws in our country. related to the employee’s experience such as home office, which will now have to consider the hybrid work scheme; the Outsourcing Law; NOM 035, which may have to reevaluate additional psychosocial risk factors at work; as well as the generation of new strategies for risk management in the post-covid era.

This has also been a time of cost reduction and adaptation to rapidly changing work patterns, as well as reworking of processes to work in a decentralized environment and so many other unexpected situations, amplifying the risk of errors, fraud, missing compliance and misuse of budgets.

Due to these challenges, companies have become more agile and able to respond to business conditions. In fact, according to The Economist Group and SAP (April 2021), 86% of executive leaders agree that the pandemic has forced their organizations to be more open to experimentation and rapid changes in strategy. This adaptability and agility, in turn, helps them position themselves to reshape their future.

Change management

Finance leaders themselves spearhead, hand in hand with CIOs and company leadership, technology implementation strategies to improve travel and expense management and approval processes, as well as billing management and compliance. They focus on obtaining better control over all financial activities by investing in technology that helps them have greater visibility of current spending and forecast future activity with greater precision that improves efficiency in audits and tax reports to discover savings, and adapt more fast to regulatory changes, supplier relationships and new business travel schemes.

Technology modernization initiatives have been critically important since before the pandemic, but many plans were launched in a rush in 2020. Today, companies take a highly strategic approach to modernization, focusing on those technology investments that promise to make the highest and fastest possible performance.

Therefore, the office of the finance leader of the present or future should consider, in the beginning, having cloud-based solutions that respond to the need to have access from any time and place to help collaborators to carry out their work of effectively and collaborate remotely. With streamlined workflows and near real-time access to the same data and applications, cloud-based applications help increase efficiency, productivity, and accuracy.

On the other hand, artificial intelligence and machine learning will play an increasingly important role, as they can widely affect financial operations adding value wherever they are implemented. Also: automation enables improvements that include eliminating manual processes, faster reimbursements, reducing manual reviews and approvals, and identifying fraudulent claims that humans can miss. Lastly, data analytics helps organizations gain key insights into costly and inefficient processes, improve risk assessment, eliminate errors, and increase compliance.

When you have visibility of spending by concepts, periods of time, areas or groups of collaborators, it is possible to understand the use that is being given to resources and determine if it is optimal for the business, which generates many savings that can range from 10 to 50% or more; This saving translates into growth.

The way: innovate in the process

Today more than ever, the CFO’s innovative vision is crucial to moving his companies toward more profitable and sustainable business models. The world is turning to new horizons and together with the captain, the CFO, you have an obligation to guide your companies to fruition. I am convinced that 2022 will be marked by new challenges for everyone to adapt to the new normal with hybrid models of work, coexistence, business, and only companies that are at the forefront of technology will be successful.

* The author is the director of SAP Concur in Mexico and the North Region of Latin America.


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