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The shifting landscape of the CFO

July 10, 2012

The ripple effect of unstable economic times is being felt by us all – it has changed our perspectives, our risk averseness and, in many cases, even our jobs.

But, as highlighted in a new article in the SAP Insider, possibly no group has felt the turmoil more acutely or deeply than the finance departments of companies –  and within those departments, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This individual often acts as both the glue and the gatekeeper that helps keep a company afloat and in the black.

In these tough times, with stricter eyes upon our financial statements and reports, compliance is more important than ever before. Traditional financial concerns such as reporting regulations and requirements have become more rigorous and more complex. At the same time, the CFO likely has to contend with new concerns about cash flow and risk management, such as treasury concerns around safeguarding the company’s cash reserves.

According to the article, the new normal of the finance function within a company has revealed two distinct areas: routine functions such as accounting and reporting, vs. high-value functions like forecasting and strategic business partnering. Couple this with the fact that the balance is shifting from transactional functions to those that demand more strategic responsibilities and you have a challenging new landscape to navigate.

But if a CFO’s accountability is increasing and his or her job requirements are becoming more complex as well as more strategic – while at the same time likely facing a reduction of resources – what is the solution?

According to the SAP Insider article, CFOs need a specific set of tools to be able to perform detailed financial scenario planning; identify and minimize risk; provide deeper visibility into cash management; and streamline traditional financial processes. SAP has responded to this need by both expanding its “classic” finance solutions and developing an entirely new set of solutions to address the latest challenges faced by the CFOs of today. Examples of these new & improved capabilities include workflow approval solutions; analytics solutions to enable better decision-making and forecasting; and new on-demand solutions for common tasks like travel management.

Are you a CFO? What is the most significant issue you are grappling with right now?

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