Recent years have brought both challenges and change to corporate America. By now, every industry has been impacted in some way by the global pandemic and supply chain issues.
Domestically, businesses and financial professionals struggle to navigate rising rates of inflation and increasing degrees of workplace turnover. These factors have resulted in several controllership trends worth highlighting, so this article looks at them and what they can mean for your industry.
Demand for Visibility
Data has become the foundation for finance, corporate insights, and other critical business processes, and in today’s world, decisions are often made in the blink of an eye.
Controllers and other financial leaders need access to accurate, up-to-the-minute data in order to perform critical evaluations and make choices that impact the company’s future.
Companies, therefore, thrive when executives can view data regarding core processes. That’s why many companies are implementing cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to make it easier for workers to gain insight into their company’s performance and integrate this data into their strategic planning.
For today’s top companies, automation is synonymous with efficiency. This correlation is especially true of a company’s financial processes, where many operations can easily be carried out using a computer system.
These automated tools extend beyond mere calculations, of course. The best platforms can also generate on-the-fly financial reports and provide detailed insights into a company’s performance over a specified time frame.
In some cases, controllers may need to build a case for automation to convince senior leadership to adopt new solutions. It will be important to implement these systems gradually. After all, automating a flawed process will only compound mistakes and can shatter the efficiency that these solutions promise to create.
Evolving Human Resources
By now, you’ve likely heard the phrase “The Great Resignation,” referring to the wave of employees leaving their jobs in the last year. This trend has kept companies scrambling to fill vacancies left by high-performing employees and wondering how to retain other top talent.
Strategies vary, but the common approach has been to develop a broader set of employee benefits. This approach means doing more than merely offering a health plan and a retirement account.
Even smaller businesses have been working toward instituting wellness programs, offering childcare options, and giving their workers greater flexibility when it comes to working from home.
Controllers should understand that there’s a bit of a bidding war going on when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Businesses can adapt by communicating their unique value to prospective employees and finding new sources to draw from for recruiting fresh workers.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. companies amassed more capital in the last year than any other time in recent history. With more money to invest, many companies found themselves facing a sharp uptick in their overall revenue, a welcome trend in spite of global crises and domestic challenges.
At the same time, this trend introduces a new challenge: how to properly allocate this new capital. This allocation is where financial controllers can have a direct impact, as they can provide valuable guidance as to how a company spends its cash.
Companies need to decide how to invest their money in transformational projects that will provide for their organizations long-term. This approach will widen the scope of financial controllers and make them important dialogue partners as company managers seek to use their capital in ways that enhance their core business competencies.
If there’s any true lesson that can be gained from the global pandemic, it’s that flexibility goes a long way.
American businesses proved that shifting to a virtual office was not only possible but was actually profitable. In some cases, necessity fueled the appetite for innovation, and many businesses have emerged stronger and more resilient as a result.
Moving forward, controllers can play a role in helping companies not simply return to “business as usual.” You have an opportunity to examine the lessons learned during the most tumultuous year in recent history and ask how you can integrate them into your core strategy.
Controllers can help management teams continue to think through the value of automation and transformation.
Now that restrictions have largely lifted, what processes might you continue to automate? What roles within the organization should you amplify? Maintaining this flexibility will be important when it comes to adapting to a changing corporate landscape.
What Will the Future Bring?
Given these trends, it’s likely that controllers will continue to see their roles grow within their respective organizations. It’s also likely that shareholders will amplify their voices within the company, specifically regarding issues such as environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and other high-level concerns.
As a controller, you’ll be on the front lines of many of these conversations and have a role in shaping corporate policy in ways that generate value for your company and its investors alike.
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