Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

3 Quick Wins (and Maybe More) When Connecting Finance to the Cloud

Lisa Schwartz
Senior Director, Cloud Applications Product Marketing

Anyone doing business in today’s digital world knows that disruption is challenging incumbent businesses daily, changing the landscape for entire global industries almost overnight. The tipping point has arrived.  Finance leaders can no longer afford to rest on their laurels with business practices and processes that “have seemingly worked just fine for years.”

In today’s lightning-fast economy, heads of finance have a tremendous opportunity to lead the charge to gain quick wins for the business by connecting to the cloud.

A Harvard Business Review study found that, of 376 cloud adopters, 76% launched new products faster, 62% expanded into new market segments, and 55% rapidly expanded to new geographies by connecting existing financial accounting systems to the cloud. 

To progress in finance, it is vitally important to lead with controlled agility: essentially run the business on the turn of a dime without breaking the rules.   

Here are a few quick wins for finance in connecting existing accounting systems to the cloud:

  1. Look to improve global accuracy, timeliness and availability of operational data giving dashboard level insight…
    a) …within the Budget and Planning process. Use a cloud-based application to engage in threaded commentary and append documents to add color and substance to your budgeting numbers. Expand your plan numbers with on-the-fly, line-item detail to further elaborate on the numbers. Reduce spreadsheet madness.
    b) …during the Account Reconciliation process. Use the cloud to get instant visibility into the progress and status of the reconciliation lifecycle. Use cloud-based prebuilt reconciliation formats or create your own formats. This provides a flexible environment for creating and deploying reconciliation formats across the enterprise while achieving compliance globally. 
  2. Seek to deliver improved auditability and compliance by securing all data sources, enabling global access controls, and reducing use of less-secure processes such as emailing of spreadsheets. Email is not the best mechanism for transmitting financial data securely. Cloud-based ERP and EPM services can secure data in the cloud while reducing unauthorized access risk. Cloud-based (and on-premises) financial systems can be part of unified global access controls to consistently on-board and off-board employees and contractors anywhere in your environment. Role-based access to financial data systems is assigned, withdrawn, documented consistently and quickly across the globe. Additionally, the best cloud providers have your data stored in its own cloud database—which is not shared with other customers—reducing risk of unauthorized access. This secure data isolation design also gives you faster financial reporting and period close processing over multi-tenant cloud providers.
  3. Enable controlled operational agility and compliance by supporting built-in optimized business processes. By connecting your existing accounting systems to the cloud you can get modern best practices in finance to easily optimize and consolidate financial information and enable processes from remote subsidiaries and divisions. These built-in best practices are enabled by social collaboration, mobile, Internet of Things, analytics and big data, providing a common foundation for process standardization required for consistent compliance globally, while allowing the business to grow, innovate and change easily over time.

These are just a few examples where connecting existing finance systems to cloud applications can give you the edge to win in today’s business environment.

How to Get Started?

While recognizing these connected cloud benefits, some CFOs may still hesitate because they are not clear—how do we get started connecting to the cloud? They have unanswered questions such as, “Does this mean I have to recode my chart of accounts or replace my existing accounting systems and structures? Will this take months?” The answer: No, it does not. It is much simpler than that.

This executive summary gives details to help you to identify “when” and “how” to connect quickly to the cloud. Finance leaders should be able to recognize these simple cloud trigger points to get started connecting existing systems to the cloud to gain quick wins for the business.

Whether you’re a large enterprise or a start-up, easily connecting existing systems to the cloud can help you open doors to new opportunities in financial management and even help you to outflank those business disruptors.

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