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From phantom to reality: Finance in the digital world

Everyone is talking about digitalisation. But in practice, many processes are still handled manually. Paperwork and piles of paper are often the rule rather than the exception.

Deloitte conducted a study on digitalisation in finance together with ima The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals. Between November 2019 and January 2020, the study team surveyed 800 employees in companies. The result: just under 76 per cent of respondents confirmed that the proportion of manual processes is still high.

Increasing demand for analyses and up-to-date evaluations

At the same time, requirements are changing. The business world is moving faster than ever, so the need for analyses and information on the current status of the company is increasing. This is the only way to make the right decisions and course corrections.

This changes both the role and the area of responsibility for finance employees. Comprehensive skills in business analysis, general accounting competences and technological skills form the skillset that is currently in demand. In the digital world, finance employees are thus asserting their relevance for their companies.

This development has long since arrived in practice. The study participants report concrete adjustments in their companies. According to the survey

  • 36.2 per cent cloud-based solutions for accounting,
  • 42.1 per cent Budgeting, forecasting and reporting tools and
  • 39.7 percent data analysis and visualisation.

Data evaluations and visualisations in particular are the pillars of well-founded decisions. Whether finances, operating processes or costs: with the help of tools, the desire for up-to-date status information can be put into practice.

At least in theory. This is because a lack of equipment and the overworking of employees are a hurdle. In many cases, they hinder the ability to provide management with the desired information quickly and in optimum quality.

From this perspective, there are good reasons to reduce manual processes and digitalise them.

Expertise in demand beyond technology

Technology plays a major role in this transformation process. At the same time, technology only ever delivers as much performance as the person operating it allows.

Employee training and development is therefore an important part of digitalisation. 61.7 per cent of respondents were of the opinion that critical thinking/problem-solving skills would advance their teams. Core technological skills were in second place with 40.4 per cent.

The self-assessment regarding the need for further training is therefore hardly surprising: respondents saw the greatest need in the areas of budgeting, forecasting and reporting tools (52.3%), cloud-based accounting solutions (45.8%) and data analysis and visualisation (44.3%).

Skills and competences are important. However, the organisational aspect should not be forgotten: Even in a fully digitalised world, there are only 24 hours in a day. The working time of employees in companies remains valuable, so priorities must be set with regard to the analyses and evaluations requested.

The change from a reactive, transactional function to a proactive, analytical one can only be good for employees in the finance department. In future, they will be able to focus on more interesting activities and thus strengthen their position as a strategic business partner.

There is still a long way to go for many companies. Successful digitalisation requires a resilient and consistent data infrastructure. The first step is therefore often data cleansing, especially if companies have been operating outdated ERP systems for a long period of time. This is followed by new processes and administrative revisions. This is a major obstacle for many companies.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central:
Up-to-date and comprehensive analyses just a click away

Users of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central have an advantage because they already have a standardised data structure.CKL’s finance apps are seamlessly connected to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, paving the way for up-to-date and detailed evaluations and analyses.
It’s best to see for yourself and attend one of our upcoming webinars.


From Mirage to Reality: Bringing Finance into Focus in a Digital World, Deloitte / ima The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business.

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