Quick reactivity was paramount for business leaders amid the onset of the global coronavirus crisis. For organizations far behind on their modernization efforts, there was a scramble to adopt cloud-based solutions that could support business continuity in a work-from-home environment. For others a bit more advanced along their digitization journeys, however, executives had greater agility to adjust existing processes amid the new normal.
Remote working requirements show no signs of letting up any time soon, and with many firms now settling into a routine, business leaders have an opportunity to take a longer-term view of how the immediate changes they have made as a result of the pandemic might have long-lasting effects on their organizations.
Chief financial officers are in a particularly strategic position to lead this initiative, according to Steve Cakebread, CFO of Yext. In this week’s Voice Of The CFO report, Cakebread told PYMNTS about his experience of embracing the cloud and third-party FinTechs with a forward-looking view of the enterprise.
The ‘Quick Hits’ Of Digitization
In the immediate wake of the pandemic, Cakebread said he “doubled-down” on technologies that supported remote workers, with cloud-based solutions becoming particularly valuable.
There are several financial workflows that could be most easily and quickly adjusted to address the needs of professionals working from home, including accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll.
“If you’re running your company, those are the quick hits,” Cakebread said.
Contributing to the speed with which these processes can be deployed to the cloud is the strategy of collaborating with third party FinTechs, he noted. Indeed, working with best-in-breed solution providers can be a far more efficient way of migrating workflows to the cloud in support of a remote working environment, compared to developing proprietary solutions in-house.
“I always look to third-party providers,” Cakebread added, “because they’re the experts, to a large degree, on the processes they serve. They can help you get best practices into your company, rather than you having to sit down and rethink and reinvent all of the nuances and details.”
Not only is this strategy faster, it’s more cost-effective, he noted.
Peering Beyond The Pandemic
While the immediate role of the CFO amid the coronavirus crisis has been to empower professionals working from home with cloud-based solutions, today, it’s imperative that finance chiefs also take a long-term view of the changes they’re implementing within their organizations today.
Cakebread pointed to the FinTech solutions that companies may adopt to address their immediate needs as tools that will help businesses drive efficiency and greater productivity in the long-term. They will be especially valuable as more organizations, including Yext, expect to embrace the hybrid workforce model by allowing professionals to continue to work at home at least part of the time even after the pandemic wanes.
As organizations prepare their strategies for a post-pandemic market, Cakebread noted that CFOs must be looking ahead more than most other executives. It takes time to properly train employees to use new systems that may be implemented, but that investment can lead to greater productivity across business functions, from sales to production to marketing — all of which, Cakebread said, pass through the finance organization at some point.
As such, the CFO plays a heavy hand in gearing up an organization for long-term growth.
“You have to be forward-thinking, looking at where the business is going,” he said. “The role of the CFO is not just to record the numbers. The role of the CFO is to envision the future and how to make a company more effective and more efficient in that future as it grows.”