BlackLine Blog

March 17, 2020

3 Ways CFOs Can Leverage Change & Uncertainty in Finance

Modern Accounting
3 Minute Read

Mark Partin

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Part 2 of our Managing Change & Uncertainty for CFOs blog series. Read Part 1 first.

The act of managing change is familiar to CFOs, who are typically experienced in tackling the market fluctuations, product evolutions, and other changes faced by their organizations and industries. But today’s CFOs are also being challenged to adjust to and anticipate changes that occur with more frequency, and in some cases, greater impact than ever before.

We’re dealing with more data—bigger data, if you will—coming at us faster than ever. Businesses themselves are growing and becoming more complex, adding ERP systems and bringing on entire new corporate entities. Meanwhile, customers are asking for more, better, and faster.

This raises the question: can change be managed?

Future-focused CFOs at companies around the world are not only managing change, but leveraging change and uncertainty to create strategic advantage. In part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the first three best practices they’re using:

  • Using and optimizing new technology

  • Elevating Finance’s role to strategic business partner

  • Driving the evolution of the accountant

Keep reading to learn more about the next three:

  • Proactively mitigating cybersecurity threats

  • Staying ahead of changing regulations

  • Reducing the cost of the finance function

Proactively Mitigating Cybersecurity Threats

Manual, paper-based processes can’t help organizations identify threats as they occur. In contrast, cloud-based solutions—in tandem with automation—provide accounting and finance teams with access to crucial real-time information.

This visibility is the first-line defense against hacking, fraud, and human error.

Cloud-based solutions also provide a higher level of security than typical onsite legacy systems. Software housed with a trusted vendor, instead of an organization’s IT department, provides third-party impartiality and severely limits internal access to data.

Plus, by leveraging costs across multiple clients, cloud-based vendors have more resources to invest in top-tier security and safety measures. These include measures to repel cyber threats, e.g., network protection, secure transmission measures, disaster recovery, continuous scans, as well as measures designed to stop physical threats, e.g., redundant power feeds and HVAC systems, fire detection systems, video surveillance and foot patrols, and buildings designed to withstand seismic, storm, and flood risks.

Staying Ahead of Rapidly Changing Regulations

The dramatic increase in financial regulations affects every organization, large or small, profit or nonprofit. Yet for vanguard CFOs, meeting these regulations isn’t a burden but an opportunity—a chance to streamline existing workflows and increase integrity not just for compliance purposes, but for the long-term benefit of the organization.

By proactively implementing solutions and systems designed to increase efficiency and visibility, meeting compliance is transformed from a frenzied aggregation and analysis of data to a streamlined, transparent reporting process.

Reducing the Cost of the Finance Function

Traditionally, Finance has functioned as a (necessary) cost center. While the act of balancing the books doesn’t make any money, it does help keep companies from losing it. Yet in an era of smaller budgets and increasing competition, not losing money isn’t enough.

Every department is searching for ways to increase their value and reduce expenditures. While some organizations have resorted to trimming staff, future-focused CFOs have a wiser perspective.

In the modern finance organization, accountants are even more valuable than before_._ A preliminary investment in automation solutions and integrated platforms means accountants’ salaries can be used in service of valuable analysis and insight, instead of time-consuming manual work.

Higher productivity and increased strategic capability in Finance saves the entire organization money through increased access to real-time data, improved capacity for rapid decision making, and reduced errors and discrepancies.

Great Uncertainty Brings Great Opportunity—for the Wise, the Brave & the Visionary

For CFOs who still believe Finance’s job is to deliver months-old information via an onerous monthly close process, accelerating change—in technology, finance, and economics—will only generate more fear and uncertainty.

For CFOs ready to embrace change as the new normal, opportunities abound. Instead of shrinking from uncertainty, these CFOs will leverage it to drive improvement in every accounting process. This means taking advantage of new technology solutions designed to streamline and automate repetitive tasks, elevating the role of the accountant, and proactively preparing for cyber threats.

As a result, Finance will finally have the opportunity to evolve from back-office function to business partner—an efficiently run strategic function that reduces costs and delivers insight crucial to ensuring the organization is poised to thrive.

Read this CFO Playbook to discover how to achieve business partnering success at your organization and deliver even greater strategic value to the broader business.

About the Author


Mark Partin