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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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The Drive for Real-Time Consolidations

Our exploration of how technology has expanded the roles of CFOs has covered a lot of territory. Whenever I am facing tremendous change, I remember Stephen Covey’s advice “The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”[i] So it is also with the roles of CFOs.

When CFOs focus on key objectives, they can leverage process innovation to achieve amazing results. While technology enables us to reach out, it also improves the day-to-day work at the core of financial operations. A prime example is the …

How Fast Is Your Financial Close Process?

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An organization produces financial statements for various stakeholders. And that organization’s financial statements are its face to the world. The quality and speed with which these are produced are a reflection of the organization as a whole.

Quality can sometimes be measured by the number of restatements or the audit costs, but it’s not that simple. However, speed isn’t subjective and is easy to measure.

An ever-so-true quote from Peter Drucker is, “What gets measured gets managed.” Likewise, organizations try their best to manage the number of days it takes to produce financial statements, which is something that’s easily …

Real-Time Finance: Helping Strong CFOs Transform Their Businesses

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Life happens in real time. Buying a new TV? You probably research your purchase, read reviews, and compare prices online. Get store opening times, directions, and parking. Even check your account balance. All the information you need is at your fingertips.

You’re constantly making decisions based on the best available data at any given moment. So why can’t you do the same for your business?

Particularly in times of market volatility, when organizations are bombarded by risks and opportunities, finance functions need a precise view of the past, immediate insight into the present, and a clear perspective on the …

Why the New Breed of Chief Financial Officer Will Own IT

Why the New Breed of Chief Financial Officer Will Own IT

The increasing number of chief financial officers (CFOs) and their peers from Generation X and Generation Y that are now heading up finance functions are irked by poorly performing business systems that fall way short of the likes of Google and iTunes that deliver exactly what you want in seconds. So it’s not surprising that many have accelerated automation projects already underway to enhance core financial processes with technology solutions that lead to increased productivity and lower costs.

It’s the only way they can free up headcount from traditional finance functions like reporting, and treasury and transaction processing in order …

The New Breed of CFO and How to Become One Yourself

The New Breed of CFO and How to Become One Yourself

‘Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navy’

The chorus of “Sir Joseph Porter’s Song” above, taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H. M. S. Pinafore, is a satire said to be based on William Henry Smith (1825-91), the Victorian businessman who made a fortune through expanding his father’s bookselling business into a national chain which still thrives today as WH Smith. Like many successful businessmen William entered Parliament in 1868 and was appointed First Lord of Admiralty in 1877, – equivalent to the American “Secretary of …

The New Breed of CFO and the Challenges of the Multi-Generational Finance Team

The New Breed of CFO and the Challenges of the Multi-Generational Finance Team

Things are going to change once the cream of Generation Y, (the ‘Millennials’), who were born between 1981–2005, have risen through the ranks of Finance and step into the CFO role. Generation X, the group born between 1961–1980 that are currently filling many CFO positions before ascending to become CEOs are said to be sceptical, pragmatic and continually looking to develop an ever widening skill set that will have seen many make significant contributions to their businesses well outside their finance role. But Generation Y can be expected to raise the bar further, demanding the utmost automation of routine finance …

Filling the gaps in Performance Management

Filling the gaps in Performance Management

Last time out, I discussed the gaps that are frequently found in many organizations’ immature financial performance management cycles; this time, I’ll talk about filling them.

Why Focus on Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is about setting a course for where stakeholders want the organization to head and describing in detail what needs to happen to get there. This involves some well-defined processes that happen every year in order to set and translate strategy.

Effective execution of strategy requires a strong degree of organizational alignment to ensure everyone is focused on the same goals. It also requires some agility to allow …

Innovative Controlling with Predictive Margin Management

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We all know about the “new normal” for today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) from several recent blogs. Recently, I gained some interesting insight into the challenges of a CFO at a forum for financial management in Germany. The focus was about how the CFO can better manage the enablement and the development areas highlighted in the wheel.

Successful CFOs have managed to elevate their positions within their companies to the highest levels, becoming strategic advisors, drivers of initiatives, and business partners to all revenue-enabling organizations. Some of them even become the

Predict, Execute and Control: the mantra for better Financial Planning and Analysis

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Managing financial planning and analysis is an end-to-end process that starts with strategy definition and documentation. It then goes through the detailed planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes that define the activities and resource allocations necessary to achieve the strategic objectives. This is followed by profitability and cost analysis, and other modelling and simulation scenarios. Underpinning this whole process is the need for constant reporting and monitoring.

So, unlike external reporting, which is mandatory based on various regulatory requirements and needs to happen only at certain points in the financial year, internal reporting is on-going. Similarly, we can think of the …

How You Too Can Drive Innovation and Contribute Actively to Creating Value with Actionable Analytics

How You Too Can Drive Innovation and Contribute Actively to Creating Value with Actionable Analytics

While in control of their “traditional” tasks of accounting, controlling, and governance or finance operations, today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) are already stepping up their influence on corporate strategy. Yes—it’s the CFO and the supporting gang that will be the drivers of margins, the visionaries of operational processes, and the creator of vast increases in value contribution from a non-sales perspective.

Whenever you are in search of meaningful data these days, the magic guy or gal is always the controller, the finance guy, the lady in management reporting. There might be differences …