BlackLine Blog

July 19, 2018

Digital Transformation: Start With the End-Game in Mind

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Molly Boyle

Share Article

Digital transformation is no longer an abstract idea or a future concept. It’s an integral part of today’s most successful accounting and finance organizations, as they lead the way into a new era.

According to a recent survey of finance executives, CFOs want to spend more time on digital initiatives. However, this isn’t their current reality, and in the midst of rapid innovation, many are also unsure of where to start.

But if they don’t get started quickly, CFOs risk losing what McKinsey calls a “golden opportunity to help drive the business agenda.”

As companies begin to recognize the front-office value that accounting and finance can bring to the table, they’re rewarding CFOs with a technology budget that will free their teams to deliver that value.

Determining the best approach and identifying the right technology is no small hurdle—and figuring out the first step can feel like the biggest battle.

To achieve success, it’s essential to begin with the end-game in mind.

A New Approach to Process Improvement

Many organizations start by looking at how their current processes can fit into a technology solution. This can seem like a logical starting point, but focusing on existing processes misses the opportunity to realize the greatest success.

If you simply automate your current approach, you run the risk of automating a process that could be improved. This may have an immediate payoff, but it won’t be a major long-term differentiator because you still don’t have a best practice in place.

And at the end of the day, if you started with a bad process, well… you probably still have a bad process. It’s just faster now.

Successful teams are taking the time to first examine the current state, and their focus is on reimagining that approach with the goal of being world-class at the end. When the outcomes are clearly defined at the beginning and technology is selected with those ideals in mind, the possibilities for transformation are exponentially greater.

Scale With the Right Technology

When the goal is to shift legacy processes to leading practices, it opens the door to leverage out-of-the-box technology solutions. Beyond having processes that are best-in-class, using technologies as delivered helps organizations avoid costly customizations that add complexity and drain resources during and after implementation.

Embedding technology into the core of the process results in a more scalable end-to-end solution because the process is built with automation in mind.

As a result, your organization will be more agile. If a new entity is created or your company goes through an acquisition, you have a solution in place and can easily add new processes to your technology ecosystem.

Many organizations are currently making significant investments in digital transformation initiatives and technologies. And some may have an immediate payoff, but fail to deliver down the road. Whenever rework is required, it’s far costlier and takes a substantial amount of time.

Ask the Right Questions

Take the time to research what industry-leading organizations have done successfully, and understand why the solutions you’re considering are designed the way they are. Finally, challenge why your processes can't fit into the recommended approach.

Addressing these exceptions up front is much more impactful than focusing on the processes you want to automate.

Design Your End-Game

So, as you begin your digital transformation journey, start by making your end-game clear. Step back and examine your current processes, redesign them with automation in mind, and lock down the best practices that will lead to optimal efficiency in the long run.

It’s okay to start small, maybe with just one process, and add others until you realize success.

Technology is equipping CFOs with the tools they need to reshape the finance function, and now is the time to seize this opportunity—or risk being left behind.

Read this white paper to learn more about a smarter way to approach digital transformation.

About the Author


Molly Boyle