As discussed in the Controllers Council study titled The Contemporary Controller, 2020 pushed controllers into new roles, created new responsibilities, and did so quite efficiently. The office gave way to the home office. Meetings gave way to Slack channels and Zoom calls. Staff shortages, supply chain disruptions, and revenue challenges stacked up.
But as the roles have changed, so have the technologies. Remote work was once a pipedream—now it’s the norm. Today, we can do almost anything remotely. This, however, begs another question: which technologies are simply enabling the finance organization and which ones are empowering corporate finance staff to get more out of their job?
Three Ways to Empower the Contemporary Controller with Modern ERP
To answer this, the Controllers Council partnered with The Donas Group, a leading provider of software and implementation services for midmarket businesses to ask their opinions about the evolving role of the controller, the continued challenges of the coronavirus, and the ways that a modern ERP solution could help you achieve Contemporary Controller status.
1) Facilitating the Transition from Tactician to Strategist
Following the time spent in survival mode this year, many controllers surveyed in the Contemporary Controller study found themselves looking toward the future. Echoing a variety of other studies that showed the increasingly strategic nature of the controllership, planning seasons will increasingly feature the controller as a key player in meetings.
In 2021, many respondents see themselves taking on new roles in financial planning and analysis, corporate strategy, and technology leadership.
How ERP Empowers the Controller
One of the biggest challenges for any financial professional is whether or not they have access to the right information to make decisions. Much of the average controller’s day is still spent on transaction processing, and in order to embrace the call to become a strategist, information needs to be accurate, readily available, and easy to understand.
To make this happen, companies need to break own silos. Operational inefficiency, resulting from departments that are systemically disconnected from one another, is the norm in many organizations. Silos have evolved in different directions over time, without hope of connection. It happens. IT is beyond frustrated. It has been the nature of doing business and is no one’s fault.
Enter ERP. Built to integrate and reduce the time spent processing, controllers are given the right information at the right time, helping them to not only make strategic decisions more effectively, but to just as easily thrive in the day to day work.
Learn more in How Your Business Struggles Without Modern ERP.
2) Providing a Path to a CFO Mentality
It may not come as a surprise that today’s controller has a lot of responsibility for bookkeeping and financial management processes. CFOs, on the other hand, are much more likely to delegate or oversee these tasks. According to the study, 69% of controllers saw themselves in charge of bookkeeping, followed closely by FP&A processes and Finance.
But this raises a question—what about the controller with C-Suite Aspirations? Something we highlighted in our webcast on the path to promotion, many controllers still think like controllers-even if they want to make the move up the ladder.
“The CFO needs to be a significant part of growing the beans, in addition to counting them,” says Ted Weitzel. “You’re not just reporting, you’re guiding, strategizing, and ultimately taking the company in a direction that it needs to grow.”
CFOs are busy humans. Your current CFO brought you on because he or she needed someone worthy of trust, someone that wasn’t in need of micromanagement, and someone who could provide an at-a-glance look. You already know that you shouldn’t be stuck in the weeds, but this is doubly true for the CFO.
How ERP Automation Gets You Out of the Weeds
Finance is a reflection of business operations. This may sound obvious, but it can get lost in the fog of accounting software interfaces. In turn, there’s a huge difference between leading the finance organization and living in the trenches. Quarterbacks get all the fame and glory despite having an impossible job if not for the five burly, corn-fed linemen in front of them.
CFOs are expected to be completely on top of financial reporting, tax, compliance, and the like. But every minute spent crunching the numbers is taking away from some other role. This is where integration gives way to automation—and where ERP facilitates the calculation. Not only does this provide the finance chief with the right information quickly, it helps this person to delegate more effectively by taking manual processes away from the staff.
Learn more in Requirements for Becoming a Modern CFO.
3) Giving More Control over Supervisory Roles
Additionally, when asked who was rolling up their sleeves and who was overseeing activities, controllers were overwhelmingly looking to delegate the grunt work in accounts payable and receivable—71 and 69 percent found themselves delegating these roles.
But as with any delegation of duties comes risk. AP and AR are among the most fraud-prone areas in the business—fudged expense reports, fake or duplicate invoices, ACH scams; they all present some kind of risk. But guess who has to answer to the auditor? Not the fraudster.
ERP’s Role in Ensuring Control
For controllers, the ability to reduce fraud, reinforce internal controls, and provide assurance on the numbers is your job. But a lack of automation means errors, a lack of traceability holds back accountability, and a lack of connected workflows leave companies at risk.
With ERP software like Acumatica you always have the who, what, why, when, and how well documented. Querying data within the ERP for reporting — including audits — should be easy for staff. Users should be able to access and export relational version of data for review, backup, and transfer. Audit trails should keep you informed of decisions and alert you to fraud.
Learn more about your options in the ERP Comparison Matrix report.
Getting Contemporary with Modern ERP: Get to Know Donas and Acumatica
The Controllers Council is incredibly thankful for the input from or friends at The Donas Group on the ways that ERP can give controllers more control. If you’re looking to get more contemporary with modern ERP solutions, ask questions from a company who has been there before, and get advice from the experts, we invite you to learn more about the Donas Group and their relationship with Cloud-based ERP Acumatica. Designed specifically for small to mid-size distributors and manufacturers, Acumatica combines proven business logic developed over 10 years with new, cutting-edge technology to help you streamline your operations like never before.
Want to learn even more? Click here to become a Controllers Council Member and to get a free copy of the Contemporary Controller—Changing Roles and Responsibilities.