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We’ve made the case for years: There’s a huge opportunity and need for CFOs to become more strategic to their organizations.

We all agree that financial data should heavily influence future decisions within any business eyeing long-term success. But the cumbersome effort required to gather and analyze historical performance data and project future outcomes has hindered many finance leaders’ ability to spend less time managing data and more time acting as a strategic partner to the organization.

Finance needs the right FP&A tools and processes to drive a fundamental shift in responsibilities. I’m talking about a complete transition from number cruncher to strategic decision-maker – from reporting on historical performance, to driving future decisions.

As a CFO earlier in my career, I tried to create more efficient FP&A processes so that our entire finance team could focus more time on understanding the story behind the data. My goal was to help our executives make more data-based decisions. What I found was a lack of available tools to help drive such a change.

Over a decade later, many CFOs and corporate finance teams are in a similar position, despite the current availability of modern FP&A tools to help them make best use of their time and add more value to their organizations. Persistent use of legacy tools like Excel greatly hinders finances’ ability to assume a more forward-thinking, strategic role. Excel is a great personal productivity tool, but it’s a miserable collaborative, structured business application. As such, it introduces significant overhead that takes time away from the initiatives that are most impactful to building a business.

To truly lead with financial insight, it’s up to CFOs to embrace and drive new technology adoption – technology that will help to create a repeatable process of getting the right data, to the right people, at the right time. The proper system and tools are essential to reaching this goal and creating two very significant and positive organizational changes:

First, it’s about improving efficiency and freeing-up more time for finance to do what everyone really wants them to do – focus on analyzing and sharing financial and operational metrics with executive decision-makers. That increased focus on financial analysis has led to very tangible results for many organizations, including automation software provider BlackLine, where the finance team uses the Adaptive Suite to find and share valuable organizational insights much more efficiently than ever before.

“We’re using our increased productivity with Adaptive to do new types of reporting and analysis, and to find new trends,” explained Blackline Chief Accounting Officer Charles Best. “All of this helps us better understand business performance, share insights with the team, and confidently decide what to do next.”

Secondly, modern technology helps finance leaders like Engine Yard CFO Rick Smith better guide the management team toward the most efficient use of assets.

“Adaptive has completely revolutionized the way we run our business and allocate resources,” Smith said. “Now I’m a more strategic contributor to our team, not just a number cruncher.”

In Adaptive Insights’ own recent CFO Indicator survey, 70% of respondents said they plan to make better use financial data to make more analytics-based decisions in 2015. The right tools are essential to doing so, which is why modern technology will continue to be a significant differentiator for today’s most strategic finance chiefs and most successful businesses.