Modern CFO: The new crisis manager for businesses amid the pandemic

Chenthil Eswaran, Practice Head of Enterprise Business Applications, Aspire Systems opines how a modern CFO is a crisis manager in changing times.

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Modern CFO

Traditionally, CFOs played a key role in helping optimize the cost of doing business during times of unexpected disruptions. In 2021, that hasn’t changed. However, what has significantly transformed is their list of priorities – regardless of good or bad times! While they are still responsible for managing cash flow, budgets, and key financial processes, there have been new dimensions to their priorities. Today, a modern CFO should step up to support company growth while improving workforce engagement and retention.


Especially during a global crisis like the pandemic that struck last year, it became evident that the modern CFO needs modern tools to build operational resilience. Then, there’s the matter of breaking down innovation barriers. This, quickly turns into a top priority for other C-suiters, as well. As far as CFOs are concerned, their teams require cutting-edge business applications that provide data-rich insights on managing volatile revenues and forecasting market unpredictability.

The pandemic has joined recession as a possibility than a probability in forecasts. Further, since a lot of their current focus is on reducing short and medium costs, data has become the CFO’s best ally. It has empowered them to effectively manage liquidity and protect cash flow management; thus, making it easier for the enterprise to manage day-to-day operations.

Automation-driven data is the CFO’s best ally


Leveraging data only bears dividends when one collects, shares, and transforms it into insights at the right time. It’s why robotic process automation is a game-changer for the CFO in how their teams manage processes; from discovery and mining to enhancement.

When faced with operational efficiency or cost reduction challenges, CFOs need accurate and actionable insights to make sound decisions. RPA can help them:

• Accelerating and streamlining financial management workflows

• Freeing their teams from performing manual, repetitive tasks and equipping them to focus on more value-added strategic tasks

• Providing a layer of transparency to view the entire process lifecycle

• Standardizing security and compliance protocols as part of automated risk management

• Upskilling their teams with automation capabilities – boosting skill development


The new crisis manager in town

Automated-driven data insights have also become increasingly important for CFOs to advocate and implement business continuity measures. As a result, there’s more pressure on them to predict forecasts and help strategize business resilience and recovery, as well as stay on top of financial and reputational risks such as invoice fraud, missed vendor payments, the unauthorized budget spends, etc. And these have to be executed while making the switch to digital-first operations, without which business continuity wouldn’t even be possible.

In a way, the modern CFO is the new crisis manager. They are now in the front-seat of contingency and crisis management - from diagnosing the situation and understanding the risks to create disruption-free liquidity and lowering capital expenditure. It further heightens the CFO’s need for data management strength. Armed with a powerful analytics platform, they can retrieve and analyze data from multiple touchpoints that are crucial for risk management steps like sensitivity analysis and what-if analysis. Instead of having to stitch together information, they get an automated 360-degree view of data that tells a clearer and more dynamic story.


What can a modern CFO do to help strengthen business continuity

• Make their finance teams leaner, more agile, and well-equipped to function remotely

• Help maximize ROI of modern business tools with data-powered vendor-related decisions

• Advocate enterprise-wide cloud adoption to improve overall scalability and flexibility

• Develop financial intelligence systems that equip teams with quick forecasting abilities

With ERP expectations starting to outgrow legacy systems, the CFO technology stack is undergoing yet another evolutionary phase. But the transactional approach has already begun to be replaced by a strategic approach in successful enterprises. It means that the modern CFO is ready to be better equipped with modern tools that align their roles and responsibilities to business goals and enterprise growth.

Note: The author of the article is Chenthil Eswaran, Practice Head of Enterprise Business Applications, Aspire Systems.

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