The Best Tools Every Finance Professional Needs

Finance professionals are constantly on the front-lines of recalibrating the best processes for proactive spend in organizations. They’re shrinking the widening disparity between modern expectations of technology.

The role of CFOs, finance professionals and accountants is dependant on organization’s scale. It’s therefore important to diagnose your own spend culture. That way, you know what kind of financial controls, tools and processes are necessary.

The collection, analytics and subsequent decision making is a routine CFOs are well accustomed to. It’s many industry veterans subscribe to the idea that a CFO is only necessary at a certain scale. Such ambiguous and adjustable watermarks are really speaking to how much your company is spending. They also showcase what your company’s spend culture and processes are, and what your growth expectations are.

We’ve independently interviewed some of the most forward-thinking CFOs and financial thought leaders today. And we compiled a comprehensive stack of financial tools your organization will need to succeed. Let’s start with mid-sized businesses:

Base accounting with specialty features

Paul Riegel, regional director of CFO Centre, reckons that a good starting place is an all-encompassing, reliable and robust accounting platform to manage the procure-to-pay cycle as well as related workflows.

“Companies may have a base accounting system however may choose to go with a different brand for other related software solutions such as purchasing, or span management. Regardless of its size, every business needs a base system”, Paul said.

He continued: “This generally includes your general ledger system, accounts payable and accounts receivable functionality, bank reconciliation functionality, a budgeting module, management and financial reporting systems, and payroll functionality, depending on the organization size.”

Consideration to smaller organizations in payroll specifically was also a key differentiator. Paul said, “Smaller organizations tend to use an outsource payroll provider to process its payroll, whereas other large organizations still prefer to handle their own payroll processing in-house and may choose to use a payroll system that comes with its ERP, or may choose a separate solution entirely.”

Financial forecasting system

Forecasting and budgeting aren’t necessarily the same thing even though some accountants often define them in a colloquial sense. In general, the two terms are largely interchangeable despite their literal sense. Forecasting looks to the future and attempts to use select datasets to predict an organisation’s financial outcomes in the light of past results. A forecast is an organisation’s prediction of where it is likely to be quarters and years down the line.

Paul Reigel is an advocate for these types of finance tools. “In addition to the base system there are other systems that businesses may require, the first one being financial forecasting,” he said. “This of course is dependant on scale, as some smaller businesses resort to using a spreadsheet application such as Excel, whereas some larger organizations may use a data warehouse combined with an office forecasting system.”

Stop gap between accounting and ERP

Jon Brodsky, country manager of Finder.com offered some sage wisdom on the crossover between accounting processes and enterprise resource planning with some anecdotal and data driven insights. Brodsky said:

“Some people will see me in my day to day and ask, ‘Why is the person in charge sitting here like spending two hours going through receipts?’. The answer is: I actually don’t do that at all. In reality, I put a giant pile of receipts I send them off to our accountants and say: ‘Bye. Thank you again!’

“If we could just take real time reporting needs and plug it to all the various finance tools and networks we use to recruit people to all of us, and incorporate all of the places where we spend money, whether it’s a credit card, or just regular invoicing, or rent you just have that all updated minute by minute and day by day — I would be ecstatic because then I could sit there and say at any given time like here’s where we are in profitability for the month without having to guess started use a heuristic.”

Moving to the Cloud

Moving the ERP to the cloud is an essential step for mid-sized organizations. It enables organizations with limited resources to gain automatic visibility into their spend. It also reduces the need for spreadsheets amidst accounting, regulatory, and operating environment change.

Steve Yu, the CFO of UCLA Law, told us that he landed on a cloud solution in his own practices after much research and deliberation.

“So we went through different options for reporting and financial management. We looked at Workday and some other places as well and ended up with Oracle. We wanted to get away from the proprietary software that are built off a mainframe that might like crash at any time. Jumping ahead to cloud-based solutions is much safer.”

Now, let’s move on to looking at the spending tools finance professionals need for enterprise companies:

Comprehensive spend management

For this one, we’ll send it back to Reigel:

“Some companies develop customized software solutions or operate in the professional services niche you would also need a time in building software functionality. More companies (and I’m seeing this increasingly) have a purchasing system or a spend management system which powerfully tracks your spend from order to pay (P2P).”

Here, Reigel recognizes that we are living in an age of disruption. Changes are accelerating, making innovation a strategic and systemic habit for any organization looking for survival. With this in mind, the pressure on procurement to support business continuity is becoming greater than ever before. Agile supply chains are becoming the ultimate goal for organizations.

Achieving an agile supply chain organization requires change across people, processes, tools, and systems and most importantly a shift in culture and mindset. With a vision, strategies and related technologies — this complexity is simplified to a transformational program that addresses all challenges with clear objectives and measurable outcomes.

CRM management system

For enterprise organizations, it’s hard to know what you need your customer relationship management software. It’s also hard to know how much you should be paying for it. Reigel had the following to say about his own experiences with these kinds of finance tools:

“Many businesses have a CRM software which is used to track and correspond with your customer base. You’re also supporting all of the systems in an enterprise ERP. Normally, within a business, is a backup or redundancy system in case of a natural disaster or any other outage. Generally for enterprise businesses, you want a system or systems that are very user friendly.”

From all these specific solutions and tools for mid-size and enterprise businesses, there are two big takeaways. Firstly, finance tools in a tech stack must be accessible. Secondly, they must be each to use.

“Ease of use and robustness means that the tool can handle any type of business transaction”, says Reigel. “One in which system upgrades don’t put an undue burden on the organizations as well as you want systems that have a good user track record, in fact.”

What do you think?

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