As part of a strategic partnership, NetSuite recently worked with the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) on joint research to better understand the key trends and challenges facing accounting and finance organizations. Based on a survey of 1,726 IMA members conducted from September to December 2011, researchers identified the most critical challenges faced by accounting and finance teams today.
To share the results of this research of finance and accounting professionals, we recentlydelivered a joint webinar to the IMA membership and published a survey-based report,Rising to the Challenge: Productivity in Accounting and Finance Organizations. Some of the key insights covered included:
- The single most critical challenge facing financial executives is streamlining processes and improving productivity
- Strategic activities such planning, budgeting, forecasting, cost and profitability analysis, and providing performance scorecards and reporting were viewed as in need of the most process improvement
- Other key concerns included running a global business efficiently, implementing and upgrading information systems and connecting the finance team with the front office
- Financial teams are most often achieving productivity gains through the use of improved technology, by more effectively using technology and through automation
- A substantial number of firms are increasing productivity by integrating the various information systems within the company.
At the joint webinar, we were joined by three CFOs: Ann Massey, Secretary, Controller, and CFO at Cover-All Technologies; Carl Cox, VP of Operations and CFO at LightSpeed Technologies; and Tom Frank, CFO at Nobel Learning. Each of our guest CFOs provided insights into their strategies to drive productivity improvements at their organizations, as well as barriers to productivity that they had to overcome:
- Multiple systems made it difficult to control data and created compliance and controls risk
- Core financial processes done through spreadsheets raised risk of error and slowed down the financial close
- Challenges around reporting across multiple applications often slowed the reporting process.
Some of the technology strategies that helped them overcome these challenges included:
- Reducing systems of record to fewer systems, and rationalizing multiple systems across finance, sales and service—this enabled the organization to grow, without a similar growth in G&A
- Tightly integrating ERP, budgeting and planning processes to speed up the management cycle and increase accuracy
- Improving reporting processes by moving to real-time reporting, and eliminating multiple versions of the truth
- Leveraging cloud applications to improve availability, collaboration, and enabling the business to react faster.
We also asked the accounting professionals in attendance at the webinar to share their feedback on their accounting team challenges and investments, with the following results: