Beyond using clunky spreadsheets and manual forecasting processes, Finance and Accounting professionals need to modernize their skills quickly or lose out.

In a recent BlackLine recent survey, close to 30% of finance and accounting (F&A) professionals and business leaders were confident that the financial data used for financial analysis and forecasting was accurate.

Some 28% were concerned about being unable to provide data quickly enough for their company to respond to unpredictable market changes, especially with remote working arrangements.

A key reason cited for this lack of confidence was that the F&A function had not evolved fast enough to adapt to digitalization. The same survey saw that F&A professionals often had too many sources to reconcile data with, and were heavily reliant on clunky spreadsheets and outdated processes.

Moreover, the current hybrid working norm is making it challenging for F&A teams to collaborate—this can lead to inaccuracies in financial data.

There is a need for the finance function to transform and to do so fast. F&A professionals are increasingly called upon by their Board to help with scenario planning, highlighting the growing importance of financial insights as companies try to move from crisis mode into recovery.

How can F&A professionals adapt to these new changes?

Leveraging tech for finance transformation

With more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated daily, demand for professionals that can interpret data will continue to increase as we delve into the age of analytics. It is inevitable that conducting audits in a traditional way will be a recurring burden given the hours required to do what is still seen as manual tasks.

But what is essential here is for F&A teams to have the right technology in place. For today’s businesses, the key transformative technology is cloud-based process automation, which boosts accountants’ productivity and agility by removing the constraints of time and space. Accounting teams and auditors can do their jobs from different locations, and at times that suit them best.

Technology creates transparency, and transparency can build trust across all levels. Using the right technology to automate month-end processes enhances the benefits of process optimization while increasing the overall productivity of accounting team members. Optimized processes will reduce risk, improve accuracy, and increase efficiency, benefiting the entire accounting and finance function.

Top talent is the future of finance

Being able to thrive during and beyond this current crisis greatly relies on attracting and retaining top talent.

Successfully embracing change and navigating uncertainty begins with upskilling employees to prepare them for the future of work. It also includes allowing F&A teams to be more involved in key decision-making and business planning. This could mean forgoing manual processes and moving to a modern accounting approach for a more efficient team and more effective organization.

We are facing an inflection point for change that will elevate F&A organizations that embrace and effectively prepare for it. Those who successfully build their capabilities for the rising tide of intelligence will be rewarded. Leveraging purpose-built technology is not only key to shaping the way work is done in the present and future. It also ensures the attraction and retention of top talent.

The finance function is in a unique position to deliver valuable insights for the future of the businesses they serve with the rise of technology and intelligent data analysis. Leading organizations are rebalancing Accounting’s role by applying the technology that leads to big business partnering benefits.

Developing analytical capabilities ensures the accounting function can deliver true insight, not just historical information, while building communication and relationship skills guarantee those insights are not lost in translation.

In summary, F&A teams need to leverage technologies to help make data-driven decisions that will impact market resilience in the future. This will also help the function grow beyond manually doing spreadsheets into providing unprecedented value to the larger business.