Blog | September 9, 2015 | by Kate Freer

The 4 Essential Actions that Set Top Performing Finance Teams Apart

The 4 Essential Actions that Set Top Performing Finance Teams Apart Top performing finance teams cut through growing complexity and speed up cycle times. A PwC report reveals the four essential actions they perform to turn things around.

A 2015 PwC global finance benchmarking report, “Breaking away: How leading finance functions are redefining excellence,” highlights the actions, attitudes, and insights that the world’s leading finance teams are providing to their organizations, and at dramatically lower costs. It tracks how leaders cut through the growing complexity in today’s business environment and, by doing so, speed up their cycle times.

And it points out the four essential things that set the top performers apart:

Cost efficiency: Top performing teams run at 40% lower cost as a percent of revenue through a combination of automation and a more efficient use of capacity, shared services, or outsourcing.*

Faster turnaround: Using cloud-based platforms rather than internal IT infrastructure is enabling leaders to deliver budgets 15 days faster than the average company.*

Sharper insight: Leaders understand that the importance of data is not in the quantity but the quality, so they spend 20% more time on analysis versus gathering data.*

Leaner operations: Top performers are focused on doing more with less, utilizing automation to increase efficiency, speed, and accuracy while keeping the organization lean.*

The 72-page report focuses on a number of areas and gives examples of how leading companies are finding success through the efforts of their finance teams. One of the areas where leaders excel is in their understanding of the benefits of technology, including automating what are low value-added yet essential functions. Finance was one of the early adopters of automation solutions that streamlined core processes. Finance teams came to the realization that, in the areas of billing and management reporting, 40% of the time spent on manual activities and waste could be reduced through automation.

But besides simplifying standard processes, leaders are using technology to enable sales, operations, and finance to integrate their planning to create a road map to success. This ability to leverage technology across multiple disciplines is very important to a majority of respondents in the report. When asked where they were hoping to get the most out of their digital investments, the following percentage of respondents answered “very important” or “somewhat important” for a number of factors, including the following:

  • 86% – “A clear vision of how digital technologies can help achieve competitive advantage”**
  • 83% – “A well thought-out plan for digital investments, including defining measures of success”**
  • 76% – “Specific hiring and training strategies to integrate digital technologies throughout the enterprise”**

It’s clear that the function of Finance continues to evolve, and that CFOs and other finance executives who aren’t able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment could effectively keep their organizations from achieving the growth goals they’ve set for themselves. * PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, “Breaking away: How leading finance functions are redefining excellence,” 2015, p. 9. **Ibid, p. 47.