Organizations are at a crossroads. They’ve had years to adopt and operationalize critical enterprise systems to keep pace with innovation and competition, yet they’re still facing familiar resistance and blockers from multiple angles. During these times of hesitation, progressive technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI) have continued to push the boundaries on the “art of the possible” – perhaps further out of reach for less digitally mature organizations.
To advance digital progress, however, the time has come for finance and IT – often the two principal stewards of digital transformation – to recognize the barriers to transformation and take action to overcome them.
Where to begin
It starts with the ultimate alignment between finance and IT decision-makers. Collaboration between these departments is imperative to building a coalition around the specific technologies, investments and priorities most capable of maximizing transformation ROI while minimizing risk to the organization.
That’s a significant finding from a recent Forrester survey of 300+ finance and IT leaders commissioned by CrossCountry Consulting. Of the survey respondents – at companies of over $100 million in annual revenue across a range of industries – 95% agree that for digital transformation to succeed, it’s important for finance and IT to have a close and strategic partnership.
So how do these functional teams align?
Unified governance and understanding of policies
It’s not enough for finance and IT to speak the same language and share a vision for the future. They must have codified rules of engagement, recurring touchpoints and synchronized operating rhythms. In other words, leaders must incentivize collaboration and visibility between teams and establish models for cross-departmental teamwork on projects.
Cross-functional visibility encourages skilled workers to engage across teams according to 45% of respondents, and 51% agree it supports the digitization of end-to-end processes through mutual knowledge and alignment. As employees operate from the same integrated playbook of policies and processes, they intuitively achieve natural harmony and efficiency.
Mutual accountability and investment in scalable technologies
For ego-less, boundary-less decision-making across teams, 52% of finance and IT leaders say they must share technology platforms capable of scaling over time and fueling further alignment. This means replacing siloed, legacy point solutions and implementing broad-use enterprise systems that all teams can leverage in their day-to-day. Shared technology platforms can drive successful integrated enterprise strategies that help transform data flows and insights, reporting, future investment decisions and more.
With strong buy-in from leadership and a high-performance tech stack that fuels the business, a coherent process architecture begins to take shape. As staff gains latitude and credibility working collaboratively across projects, they can help define new processes – ones that center around the end-to-end execution of a key task (e.g., Source-to-Pay, Record-to-Report, etc.) rather than conventional hierarchical structures and functional silos. Establishing an agile, iterative system of shared processes is the best path toward aligning finance and IT functions, 49% of respondents say.
This shift fuels continuous process improvement and integrity and can accelerate collaboration toward digital goals, such as introducing AI/BI-based decision support (21%), security and privacy technologies (21%) and a cloud data warehouse (19%). Shared processes are ultimately the connective tissue between not just finance and IT but also other business units and even external service providers.
Digital transformation’s future state
Digital transformation drives competitive advantage and resiliency for the business. While the bottom-line numbers clearly resonate in accounting for transformation success, revenue growth (32%), improved ROI (27%) and cost reduction (23%) are ranked as comparatively less powerful outcomes of digital transformation than improved security (40%), innovation (39%), customer experience (38%) and agility (34%).
Facing budget pressures, macroeconomic uncertainty and the AI revolution, it’s now more important than ever that CFOs and IT executives strategically align to drive transformation effectively across their organizations and gain efficiencies from new innovative technologies. Working together and in collaboration with their teams and other stakeholders, they must instill agility, shared processes and platforms and new ways of working across functions to significantly impact the outcomes and pace of enterprise digital transformation.
Access the full study to learn more.