RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • 73% of CFOs say they’re best positioned to drive organizational resilience, but only 7% say that has been their most impactful initiative.
  • Future-ready operations are key for CFOs to change how work gets done and boost profitability and efficiency.
  • There are three ways for CFOs to accelerate operations maturity and identify new sources of value across the organization.
  • To get started: think about the operating model as two parts (core and strategic), create a connected finance experience and tap into ecosystems.


While 73% of Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) say they are best positioned to drive organizational resilience, just 7% say this has been the most impactful initiative they delivered to the business in the last two years. Even with good intentions and investment dollars, improving operations is complex. Yet operations maturity is key for CFOs to fully embrace their evolving role and meet the growing expectations and demands of the business and Board.

Accenture’s global research indicates that operating model maturity is advancing among global organizations. It reveals four levels of operations maturity: stable, efficient, predictive and future-ready—each, grounded in and enabled by progressively more sophisticated technology, talent, processes and data insights. Achieving the highest level of maturity means that organizations have become "future-ready."

The path to progress

The potential benefits of getting to future-ready operations are significant:

A graphic showing that future-ready organizations are 1.7 times more efficient and 2.8 times more profitable than less operationally mature companies.

However, from the CFO’s perspective, the enterprise has work to do to reach future-readiness. Because they are increasingly expected to protect the financial health of the company and manage the future, CFOs have a role in driving the enterprise's operations maturity.

When asked about their companies’ overall operations maturity today, just

5%

of finance leaders say they have reached the threshold of future-ready operations and

35%

want to be there in the next three years.

What actions can CFOs take to drive finance operations to the next level?

01. Know the ultimate goal

The evolution of the CFO’s role, from transaction processor to strategic partner, has been ongoing for years. Most CFOs (79%) say that the pandemic accelerated its urgency. Now, they can build on this momentum and become strategic partners to the business in a more sustained way.

However, finance leaders say their organization’s biggest challenges to improving operations maturity are strategy (25%), followed by structure (21%). The first step in overcoming these barriers is for CFO’s to think about the finance operating model as two connected parts: "the core" and "the strategic."

Core operations

are principal accounting processes, payables and receivables, reporting and governance.

Strategic operations

provide the data and insights needed to quantify and evaluate different possible future outcomes and strategize accordingly.

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By applying digital technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize core functions, CFOs can leapfrog operations maturity levels and run an efficient and compliant controllership function. This frees finance to double down on strategic operations—providing the data and insights to:

  • enable dynamic scenario planning
  • increase forecast accuracy
  • make more informed business decisions

What truly elevates finance as a strategic partner is the use of real-time data and insights. And CFOs understand this—99% said that it’s important to have real-time processes and operations in place to inform better business decisions. Ultimately, real-time data is a game-changer for how businesses drive growth and competitiveness, even during times of high volatility.

02. Know the key steps

As important as real-time data is, finance organizations struggle with drawing insights from it. Data is often trapped across systems and organized manually in spreadsheets—27% of finance leaders say that inconsistent, inaccurate or inaccessible data is preventing them from realizing their full potential as drivers of strategic change.

With 66% of finance leaders reporting that data is in wide use or at scale in their organization today, a world of possibilities exists for CFOs to go beyond capturing data to capitalizing on it by:

Creating connected finance experiences
Make data the center of the organization by breaking down silos, elevating data quality, modernizing data platforms, and managing and governing data holistically.

Taking digitization to the next level
Expand the use of automation to free up the workforce for value-added activities such as advanced financial modeling that forecasts future risk. Invest in AI and use it for forward-looking, predictive insights such as assessing leading indicators of demand.

Putting cloud technology at the heart of finance
Leverage cloud in even more strategic ways to support transformation at scale and speed to gain benefits beyond lowering infrastructure costs. The cloud, for example, can be used to create a shared data platform that brings business units together as a connected, intelligent enterprise.

03. Know how to leapfrog maturity levels

Forward-thinking CFOs understand that the journey to operations maturity is an evolution, not a revolution. Collaboration is a powerful way to leapfrog levels. To smash the silos that separate data, processes, talent and technology, CFOs must collaborate and build relationships across their enterprise. This is so important because CFOs need an end-to-end view of the enterprise to understand working capital and cash flow and see opportunities across the value chain.

Seventy-four percent of CFOs say that the finance function will champion a new way of operating across the enterprise.

Now is the time to make your move to intelligent operations

CFOs have always understood the importance of operational resilience. In fact, 74% of CFOs say that the finance function will champion a new way of operating across the enterprise.

This expansion of their role creates opportunity for them to take the lead in improving operations. This starts with advancing finance operations towards future-readiness. Progress here can start a ripple effect of change that spreads across the entire enterprise.

If you fast-track the journey, your operations can become a true catalyst for competitive advantage. And, along the way, you can elevate your business decisions to realize tangible, sustainable, transformational value and growth.

Client case studies

NH Hotels builds 5-star finance operations

Automation, AI and lean organization structure increased productivity by 45%—enabling hotel agents to spend more time with customers. Learn more.

Medical device manufacturer saves $12.3M

Moving to an intelligent finance operating model improved efficiency, control and visibility across global operations. Learn more.

Gavi accelerates equitable access to vaccines

Defining the right operating model and standardizing processes enhances agility and rigor of finance operations. Learn more.

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Sanchit Agarwal

Managing Director – Accenture Operations, Intelligent Finance Operations Offering Lead​


Manoj Shroff

Managing Director – Accenture Operations, Intelligent Finance Operations Innovation Lead

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Accenture surveyed CFOs worldwide to understand how they view their organizations’ operations maturity.

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