In most companies, Finance often does not drive digitalization and automation efforts, typically being pre-occupied with preparing the necessary basis for digitalization. Usually, Finance transformation journeys are led by technology updates.
"Soon robots will take over major tasks in the Finance department, while humans will focus on steering these robots and taking strategic decisions." Sentences like these are painting the future in broad strokes, but the reality often looks less dramatic, as Swiss Finance departments digitalize only in incremental steps. This is why companies who still have not ventured into digitalizing their processes can still begin doing so today, so as to be prepared for the unavoidable journey towards a digitalized and automated future.
Simplify and standardize: These are the currently observed main priorities of Finance to prepare for digitalization. Cleaning up master data, simplifying the systems landscape, standardizing Finance processes and decommissioning legacy systems. If this basis has been prepared, the digitalization journey can begin.
The vast majority of companies does not yet make use of the benefits of machine learning or blockchain technologies. Cloud solutions and Software as a Service (SaaS) are tested in pilot projects or are already commonly used in every second company. Companies do strive to leverage big data analysis, self-service reporting or in-memory-databases to unleash the full potential of their internal and external data sources, once digitalization is implemented.
Legacy ERP systems have been often sluggish and inflexible, thus hindering the adoption of the speed and flexibility requirements of digitalization. Many companies are therefore undergoing ERP systems upgrades towards flexible solutions with the latest technologies, leading to several migration and Finance process optimization efforts.
Finance transformation projects typically consist of interdisciplinary team members from Finance, IT, Digitalization and external Consultants. As digitalization expertise is often not readily on hand in companies, new competencies are often acquired by hiring new employees with core competencies or through knowledge transfers from external consultants.
Agile project management techniques, such as Design Thinking or Scrum, are increasingly used in digitalization initiatives in all functions, except in Finance. Typically, traditional phase-based project management approaches are being applied, hindering an effective and fast digital transformation. Through external expertise and support, advantageous agile project methods can be utilized also in Finance projects to unleash the benefits of agile projects.
Get more insight in the German publication: Digitalisierung im Rechnungswesen