Why outdated accounting software is causing a CFO confidence crisis

Nick Longden, CRO, AccountsIQ

Chief Financial Officers are undoubtedly spinning a lot of plates. Developing financial strategies and overseeing quarterly and annual reporting is particularly difficult in this challenging macroeconomic environment. And that’s before we get to AI and how it is set to change the profession in both the short and long term.

McKinsey study determined that CFOs “toggle continually between offensive and defensive considerations, while also addressing other priorities such as capability building”. On top of this, 81% of senior professionals spend less than a quarter of their time on activities that support business decisions. Being resilient while also innovating is a difficult balance to strike. 

So, the last thing a CFO should worry about is the capabilities, accuracy, and reliability of the company’s accounting software. Unfortunately, that’s something many CFOs face, and it’s causing a confidence crisis. 

Perhaps you’re having to export information to excel for data analysis and business intelligence. Or, it could be that you aren’t analysing your transactions in enough detail to facilitate detailed quarterly reporting. Whatever it is, it all adds up and starts steadily chipping away at the trust of these systems. 

Ultimately, CFOs need visibility and control to make informed, data-driven decisions, and not to worry about whether they can trust the data. So, how can CFOs be confident about company numbers if they can’t rely on the data? And, if that’s the case, what are the telltale signs of organisations falling behind?

How do you know your software is outdated?

At the start of each financial year, most teams sit down to agree objectives and goals for the year ahead. Looking at the numbers, they determine what worked the previous year and what success looks like for the coming year.

However, many don’t conduct the same exercise and scrutiny for the accounting software itself. 

Looking ahead, how much are you planning to grow in the next three to five years? Will your accounting software be able to grow with you and manage any consolidation that needs to take place? If the answer is ‘we’re planning to grow’ and ‘our software won’t be able to keep up’, then it’s time to find a solution that can cater to this all-important growth.

Building back confidence in your finance function starts with conducting this audit. It also includes talking to the wider finance team to understand their challenges with the existing software. Once it’s understood where the problem lies, CFOs have a better idea of where to go to fix it.

Window shopping – what to look for

Businesses of all sizes – of course – want accuracy within their finance function. However, outdated systems can bring other risks too, including data security issues, inefficiencies, and adding a ton of time onto straightforward tasks.

But what do you look for in new accounting software? It shouldn’t only automate processes, but should also be able to intelligently scale with your business as it grows. This could mean adding consolidation capabilities that can provide multi-currency and multi-entity reporting in real-time. Or, it could be having the ability to integrate with other business applications. 

Ideally it should include both. For CFOs to truly have confidence in their accounting software, they need to trust that it can cater to whatever the future brings, while simultaneously being able to reduce the amount of manual tasks their teams need to conduct. This gives them back more time to complete meaningful tasks that add value to the finance function – and business – rather than fighting with an Excel spreadsheet.

The bottom line

Once you’ve determined whether your existing software is right for your business – and what your organisation truly needs to grow – it’s time to act.

Accounting software can be in place for many years, so choosing the right one that brings back confidence, accuracy, and reliability in the finance function is key. When it comes to choosing between off-the-shelf solutions with tailored ones, plug-and-play might be a simple approach, but approaching tailored solutions with an open mind is also important.

Confidence is king in finance, and outdated software can be the one thing standing in the way between CFOs and much-needed peace of mind.

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