Technology becoming core to CFO role — survey

7 Jul 2005

High-end software applications are becoming increasingly important in ensuring the accuracy of financial data, according to the Deloitte Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Survey Results for 2005 announced today.

The survey concludes that reduced reliance on spreadsheets (with all their inherent risks around data integrity) and a greater use of tools in standard financial/enterprise resource planning systems, which allow easy, flexible and consistent reporting of data, could yield significant benefits. The survey also finds that more than 65pc of CFOs questioned recognise the importance of supporting management through a focus on both non-financial measures of performance as well as financial data and linking these two forms of data to fully understand business performance and areas of strength and weakness.

“Organisations that adopt the principles of integrated performance management — considering information, management processes and supporting technology in a holistic manner — significantly improve decision making and can respond more quickly to changes in their business environment,” commented Shane Mohan, partner at Deloitte.

According to the survey, some 32pc of respondents said the highest priority specifically for the finance function is currently “cost control”, followed by 24pc who cited the need to provide better information to support the business as a whole.

“To maintain good cost control, managers need timely and accurate information on where and how costs are being incurred,” said Mohan. “It is therefore reassuring to see CFOs are very focused on providing information to support business decision making.”

The role of the CFO continues to evolve and incorporate a diverse range of functions from traditional financial and management accounting to risk management, corporate finance, regulator/investor relations and business analysis. The single biggest block of activities undertaken by the finance function is transaction processing with, on average, 46pc of time consumed, down from in excess of 60pc in the 2000 survey. Some 24pc of a CFO’s time is now spent on risk management and control, an increase on previous years and a movement consistent with the developments in corporate governance during the period.

By Brian Skelly