In response to ongoing macroeconomic and marketplace volatility, leading finance functions identify, analyze and share information with their organizations about innovation, customers, competitors, government actions and other aspects of the external environment to help maximize market opportunities while minimizing risks. In addition to building this “competitive intelligence” capability, more finance executives and professionals are eager to take on greater responsibility for analyzing and reporting key operational metrics to enterprises that grow increasingly hungry for more precise and actionable intelligence. Of course, these individuals also must continue to sharpen their financial performance management activities while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the broad range of financial processes, transactions and analyses they traditionally have performed.
Our 2012 Finance Priorities Survey, through assessing the self-reported skill levels of finance executives and professionals along with areas they cite for improvement, identifies top priorities and key areas of focus for today’s finance functions.
Among the notable takeaways from this study:
- While finance executives and professionals are focusing more on strategic activities, complex transactional issues also rate as top priorities, placing increased pressure on finance functions to make traditional, transaction-heavy processes as efficient as possible, thus freeing up more time for high-value contributions such as financial analysis and business decision-support activities.
- Competitive intelligence and financial risk management represent top priorities across all sizes of companies and among all levels of the finance function.
- Finance functions appear intent on moving their shared services organizations beyond a “lift and shift” approach to mature proficiency, enhancing the scope of business services and increasing overall efficiency.
- Survey respondents are targeting improvement in personal and organizational skills such as negotiation, Six Sigma and dealing with confrontation to help them successfully address functional priorities.