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How can CFOs benefit from ERP systems?

Beno^it Gruber - VP of Product & Alliances for Sage ERP X3

Read time 4min 10sec
Beno^it Gruber, VP of Product & Alliances for Sage ERP X3
Beno^it Gruber, VP of Product & Alliances for Sage ERP X3

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are increasingly being asked to get involved in more diverse projects within their organisations, using their skills and experience to contribute to strategic growth. However, this creates various challenges for finance leaders, who need to use all the tools at their disposal to make sound decisions based on quantitative evidence, says Beno^it Gruber - VP of Product & Alliances for Sage ERP X3.

Investment in enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions can make a difference for CFOs in this regard. Many businesses, from small to larger enterprises, already rely on ERP software to gain greater insight and exercise control over business operations. Yet many more are still to launch integrated solutions, citing fears over implementation, training and budgetary constraints, among other issues.

As such, many CFOs are missing out on an array of potential efficiency, information accuracy and cost benefits. At the start of a new year, finance leaders should consider how ERP systems can add value to their organisation by making their job easier.

What are CFOs' main concerns?

When questioned by Korn/Ferry International in 2013, more than half of CFOs (51.8%) said they are concerned about revenue growth within their organisations, and 37.6% were worried about keeping up with regulatory changes. Another 24.7% said they had concerns about meeting quarterly financial goals, with the same number worried about managing enterprise risk. Even as the economy recovers, CFOs clearly have plenty on their minds as they attempt to manage their organisations' finance function effectively.

Consolidating finance data, and using it to provide a real-time view of core business processes, can offer real value to CFOs as they aim to establish a solid foundation for growth. Opportunities for expansion are emerging across a variety of sectors as the recovery kicks into gear, but businesses need to get their house in order first.

ERP solutions offer value by integrating data from across departments, or entire organisations, and automating key processes. For instance, ERP removes the need for invoice and order processing to be conducted manually, therefore freeing up the finance team to focus on alternative value-adding tasks.

ERP solutions provide a single view

With ERP at their disposal, CFOs can gain real-time insights into exactly what is happening within the finance function and within other arms of the business. This means it is possible to manage income and expenditure more effectively, monitor customer orders and also control stock within the business. The finance chief is able to see exactly what is coming into and out of the business, where and when - allowing them to budget and forecast accordingly.

Ideally, CFOs need to have access to all relevant information in a single location, and this is where ERP solutions add value. Data which exists in silo is of little use to the finance chief - they need to make decisions based on a range of different variables, each of which is impacted by the others. Centralising data in an ERP system overcomes this obstacle, and ensures all relevant factors are taken into account.

These solutions also help ensure the accuracy of information, since anomalies and errors can be flagged up. This is crucial when it comes to cash management - particularly as the CFO is likely to be responsible for sizeable budgets. Even minor errors in the data used to support decision-making can prove extremely costly when scaled up.

In terms of organisation costs, implementing an ERP system allows CFOs to identify potential efficiencies, enabling costs to be reduced across organisations. In addition, integrating data can render some systems and processes redundant. This means they no longer need to be supported, helping to preserve valuable budgetary resources.

ERP offers value to CFOs

Whether organisations embrace on-premises ERP, software as a service, or cloud-based solutions, the same principles apply. ERP solutions offer a more cost-effective way of collecting, managing and analysing data, allowing it to be used to support decision-making in the boardroom.

In the wake of the economic downturn, it is only natural that the CFO has an important voice at the top table. Having seen so many companies run into difficulties over the last few years, executives are keeping a closer eye on the bottom line.

When called upon, CFOs need to ensure they can add value to the debate, based on a clear view of the finance function, and of the organisation as a whole. ERP systems can provide this, ensuring CFOs can have courage in their convictions when key decisions need to be made.

Beno^it Gruber

Beno^it Gruber joined Sage in 2008 and is the VP of Product & Alliances for Sage ERP X3. He is responsible for product management and marketing for Sage ERP X3 globally, and is in charge of ensuring that the operating company (OpCo) teams are aligned behind the product strategy. He also serves as the Sage ERP X3 solution expert in relationships with thought leaders, analysts and press. Prior to working at Sage, Beno^it worked at SAP (from 2000-2008), where he held a variety of marketing and product management positions before becoming Sr Industry Principle (Product & Business Development). He was a member of the EMEA Manufacturing Industries Business Group. Prior to working at SAP, Beno^it worked for management consulting and technology services companies dedicated to ERP, business intelligence and new technologies. Beno^it has also owned a company in the media and publishing sectors.

Sage ERP Africa

Sage ERP Africa is a provider of business management solutions, including financial, distribution, service management, retail, warehouse management, project costing, manufacturing and CRM, to the mid-range market. Sage ERP solutions are delivered to 130 countries exclusively through a global network of solution providers, including over 150 throughout Africa. The Sage ERP Africa product line includes: Sage ERP X3, Sage 300 ERP (formerly Sage ERP Accpac), Sage CRM, Sage 300 ERP Retail and Sage ERP X3 Retail as well as Sage third party partner solutions. With a choice of languages, currencies, locations and legislations - Sage ERP offers efficient multi-company and multinational solutions.

Sage

Sage provides small and medium-sized organisations with a range of easy-to-use, secure and efficient business management software and services - from accounting and payroll, to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and payments. Sage's customers receive continuous advice and support through Sage's global network of local experts to help them solve their business problems, giving them the confidence to achieve their business ambitions. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and entered the FTSE 100 in 1999. Sage has over 6 million customers and more than 12 700 employees in 24 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, Asia and Brazil. For further information, please visit www.sage.com.

Editorial contacts
Watt Communications: Aloma Swanepoel (011) 425 6290 aloma@wattcommunications.co.za
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