SAP Survey: Finance Professionals Expand Responsibilities, Yet Still Challenged as Business Goes Digital


WALLDORF — Fewer than half of finance professionals are well equipped to produce meaningful business analysis to keep up with the pace of change, according to survey results found by CFO Research and announced today by SAP SE (NYSE: SAP).

The global study of more than 1,500 finance professionals found that the finance function is gaining more responsibility within organizations as the pace of business becomes faster and more volatile due to the shifting global economy, new financial regulations, changing government policy and greater customer demand. To meet the accelerated pace of change, better tools are needed to deliver the in-depth financial analysis that will ultimately drive business forward.

“Finance professionals are poised to make a huge impact on their organizations in the near future, contributing to high-value activities that underlie performance management to ensure that financial targets are met,” said Thack Brown, general manager and global head of Line-of-Business Finance at SAP. “But smart finance departments recognize that the volume of data, including unique data, will only continue to grow, and advanced technologies are needed to wade through it and derive useful insights. This technology must enable end-to-end finance process coverage in real time, steering enterprises toward success instead of being left behind.”

Specifically, the survey found that finance professionals are:

  • Growing in influence and responsibility within their organizations. The role of finance in any organization is heavy with responsibility, and that weight is only increasing with time. Many finance professionals believe that new corporate functions will come under their purview, including IT (35 percent), risk management (30 percent), HR (29 percent) and mergers and acquisitions (28 percent). Moreover, the finance function’s influence throughout the corporate enterprise will be based less on its ability to keep track of the numbers, and more on its ability to unpack what those numbers mean for the course of the business.
  • Concerned about analysis and the growth of data. What they must do to adapt to the evolving business environment is a matter of concern for financial professionals. Fewer than half of respondents, 44 percent, believe their finance functions currently are well equipped to produce meaningful business analysis and reporting. A large majority, 79 percent, say that their companies must develop or acquire capabilities in advanced analytics to meet the speed of information being introduced by digitalization and automation. A suggested first step is to introduce a central platform with built-in harmonization and reconciliation for a single source of the truth and remove delays and obstacles to enable real-time access.
  • Increasingly reliant on efficient reporting and analytics. With this increased responsibility comes a focus on software and technology tools that can enable on-demand reporting. Fully 85 percent of respondents agree that, over the next five years, their companies’ success will increasingly depend on their ability to adapt to the rapid pace of change and greater business complexity. For 84 percent of the respondents, success will also mean being able to translate the flow of data into swift and decisive action. Implementing software to enable real-time financial reporting for instant insight, and prediction and simulation tools for instant foresight to pick up quickly on trends or deviations, will make this transition possible.

“The results of this survey are consistent with the discussions we are having with our CFO clients,” said John Steele, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and coleader of the global SAP Finance Transformation practice. “It is a critical moment, where the role of finance is experiencing a rapid evolution and the value of the finance function is being rediscovered.” The study of 1,544 finance professionals was conducted in September 2015. Read the full report to learn more about how to thrive in the digital economy.

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Media Contact:

Janice Tsoules, +1 (650) 223 4817, janice.tsoules@sap.com, EST

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