Britiany Tompkins, Senior Manager, Technology Solutions, BPM

CFOsThis article originally appeared in the  April 1, 2019 issue of the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal.

The business world has transformed rapidly in the last few decades, and in few places is that transformation more pronounced than in the highest rungs of the management ladder. New digital platforms, new analytics programs, and new leadership styles are causing a marked shift in the way that the C-suite operates, and executives seeking their successors can often feel caught in the middle of these myriad changes gripping the business community.

Thankfully, there are some key changes and upgrades leaders can implement to attract the best candidates and future-proof their business against an evolving digital age. Here are three initiatives you can implement now to set these new millennial leaders up for success and secure your business legacy.

1. Invest in Business Intelligence Tools.

Doing business in the modern world requires vast amounts of information, and powerful analytics to make sense of it. Whereas 20 years ago a CFO might have entered their position as a CPA with a core understanding of how to close the books and prepare profit and loss statements, their contemporary counterparts need to combine operational and financial expertise, and may even need an MBA to handle it all. Modern CFOs need to analyze business data from a variety of departments while engaging with industrial trends in real time, and play a role in corporate spending and risk management in addition to their other duties.

Business intelligence tools are the key to making informed decisions across these diverse business units. These tools take the data that companies produce in their daily operations and turn it into actionable insights through various analytics techniques. The emphasis is on digestibility: CFOs and other leaders don’t have time to read a 50-page report on every aspect of the business they touch. But with dashboards and visualizations, business leaders can quickly gain a broad understanding of what’s going on, or with some BI software, even drill down into issues. That knowledge enables them to make confident, data-driven decisions in areas that they may not have deep expertise in. In short, if you want your successors to be successful in our rapidly-changing business environment, BI is a must.

2. Update Your IT Infrastructure.

Technologies aimed at revolutionizing corporate infrastructure have multiplied in the past decade, resulting in a wealth of options for companies looking to modernize their financial systems and improve the capabilities of their executive class. Some of the most influential upgrades include bill pay platforms, expense management and reimbursement systems, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, and enterprise resource platforms (ERPs). These systems are expanding real-time access to core business functions, producing more actionable data to support corporate objectives, and streamlining financial transactions within and across business teams. These technologies are also critical for attracting top candidates for the C-suite positions as they provide the support and functionality required for them to handle the expanded duties of contemporary executives.

3. Modernize Your Workforce.

Upgrading technologies and integrating new platforms into your infrastructure is essential to remaining competitive in today’s environment, but it’s not sufficient. Management science has come a long way in the past 20 years, and new doctrines and practices have taken hold among young business leaders. Teams must be responsive to these new management and leadership styles for millennial leaders to succeed.

However, particularly in the financial world, employees may be hesitant to change the workflows and strategies that have served them for years or decades. That’s why training and rehiring are such vital parts of succession planning — because knowledge needs to be updated as much as technology does.

New executives need to understand and be able to operate in many different spheres of knowledge and influence, from cloud technology to capital allocation to modern financial software. They need teams who can handle those changes and keep the transition smooth. Online and in-person trainings can help busy executives and other employees get up to speed quickly and efficiently, but recruiting new talent may also be a necessary part of this transition.

A New World for New Leaders

C-suite responsibilities have grown more interconnected and technology-dependent than ever before. Formerly isolated positions like the CFO and the CTO are now a part of corporate strategy meetings and team development conversations, and teams need to be built and rebuilt around the changing technologies that are available and necessary for the growth of savvy businesses.

It may seem like modern leaders are asking for a lot in order to manage their positions effectively, and indeed meeting those needs will require investment and change. But this will also bring in the candidates who will make the greatest impact on your business, and help to ensure its success in an increasingly digital future.

Call to action: Identifying the technologies and financial systems you need to modernize your operations can be a complex and difficult process, but BPM’s experts are here to help. To learn more about our CFO, technology and other outsourced solutions, contact Britiany Tompkins today at [email protected] today.

Brit Tompkins is senior manager of technology solutions and Sage Intacct practice leader at BPM, one of the top 50 accounting and consulting firms in the country. Tompkins helps her clients navigate the technology landscape by introducing best-in-class platforms proven to increase efficiency and drive growth.

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