As the end of 2023 rapidly approaches and your organization enters the much-anticipated 2024 budgeting season, the pressure is on for both you and your finance team. 

Each budgeting season presents no shortage of opportunities to propel your business forward in the new year, but there are just as many challenges that you will undoubtedly encounter as you strive to balance your company’s many different needs and objectives. 

With that in mind, the following two-part blog series will explore the key challenges and strategies that controllers and CFOs need to consider before and during the 2024 budgeting season. 

Here in part one, we will focus primarily on the aspects of the challenging landscape, which are as follows: 

Staffing Shortages

According to our recent Corporate Finance & Accounting Talent Study, 68% of our respondents find it difficult to find finance and accounting talent for their organization. As CFOs and controllers hammer out the final details of their 2024 budgets, they must leave ample space in which to address the ongoing talent shortages and subsequent recruiting headaches. 

Be that as it may, it is important that they do not simply throw money at the problem by engaging in salary bidding wars. CFOs and controllers must use a balanced approach, one that specifically allocates funds toward upskilling, onboarding, training, and recruiting. Additionally, they must do their part to develop a winning company culture and explore retention incentives aside from salary increases. A few examples include more paid time off, better benefits, and flexible work opportunities.

Disparate Data

During the 2024 budgeting season, thriving in the ever-evolving business landscape will require unified data that is accessible, usable, accurate, and timely, and achieving superior data accessibility requires strategic investment in unified solutions that can support decision-making processes and make organizations more nimble.

Sunsetting legacy tech and replacing it with modern, cloud-based solutions is a costly proposition, and though these investments will certainly pay dividends, getting the rest of the C-suite on board can be a challenge, especially in light of the ongoing economic uncertainty facing both domestic and international organizations. 

The Need for Automation

Automation technologies present a viable path forward for organizations that have been plagued by staffing shortages and talent hardships. However, implementing automation at scale can require a hefty upfront investment, which makes finding cost-effective ways to drive automation represent a major challenge for controllers and CFOs heading into 2024 and beyond.

Another concern associated with the adoption of automation involves its potential impacts on employees. Staff members that are opposed to change may be resistant to the implementation of new automation technologies, especially if they believe that such solutions will threaten their job security. Overcoming these doubts requires that CFOs allocate additional resources toward employee training and upskilling.

Looming Cybersecurity Threats

As the economic guardians of their organizations, controllers and CFOs must be mindful of looming cybersecurity threats. As part of these responsibilities, CFOs are also tasked with identifying plausible cybersecurity investment opportunities and ensuring that their organizations have the financial flexibility necessary to make security a priority. 

That said, finding cybersecurity professionals and solutions that are both impactful and cost-effective can prove quite challenging. Fortunately, CFOs can mitigate many of these costs by outsourcing select cybersecurity processes and responsibilities to third-party service providers. 

Ever-Changing Compliance Requirements

The compliance landscape is constantly evolving, and to keep pace, CFOs must make compliance a priority by budgeting for technology investments that will support compliance, allocating funds for employee training, and ensuring that their organizations exhibit the flexibility required to adapt to new and emerging regulations.

The emergence of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) frameworks (LINK TO BLOG ABOVE) has added a new layer of complexity to compliance as well. While CFOs can overcome these hurdles with strategic budgeting and the support of the C-suite, compliance represents one of the most significant challenges they will face in the coming year.

The Push for Remote and Hybrid Work

Although many executives want their workforce to return to the office, employees are taking a stand and pushing back. If their organization opts to offer hybrid and remote work opportunities at scale, CFOs will be tasked with accounting for additional expenses in the 2024 budget, including office equipment stipends, internet service-related costs, and technology investments. While CFOs and the rest of the C-suite may be hesitant to embrace the hybrid work revolution, doing so can help them overcome ongoing talent shortages. 

The 2024 Budgeting Season is Fast Approaching — Are You Ready?

Familiarizing yourself with the challenges outlined above will help you prepare for the 2024 budgeting season and position your organization to succeed in the coming year. As you and your organization prepare, make sure to read part two of our comprehensive guide and explore practical insights that will support your budgeting processes.