Alexis S. Becker
Leaders become stronger with financial reporting technology that provides better information
Almost two years into a lingering global pandemic, we understand more than ever the detriment that unforeseen challenges pose to our organizations. Radical uncertainty remains due to industry shifts, regulatory modifications, supply chain lags, economic obscurity, inflationary impacts, weather delays, generational challenges, and talent shortages.
What we’ve learned about leadership in the last 24 months has been nothing short of a masterclass in vigilance, tenacity, and patience. In spite of the chaos, the impact of the pandemic on business has seen some organizations turning disruption into opportunity. One significant outcome was the discovery that the level of business-disruption damage can often be mitigated or possibly eliminated with improved tools and innovative courses of action.
Technology as a Game Changer
We can all agree that technology has been the real MVP of this unpredictable period. It was arguably the most consistent, reliable factor in our ability to navigate through the uncertainty. Ready or not, our reliance upon technology was accelerated and, while still intimidating, evolved to a place of familiarity.
McKinsey, which has been years ahead in methodically monitoring and understanding digital transformation, reported in May 2020 that, "Indeed, recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in (consumer and) business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” The stop-and-go nature that the pandemic bred coupled with the need to prioritize the tools with which to operate seamlessly, forced many organizations to invest in technology that provided consistency and dependability (think Zoom or Microsoft Teams). From creating online organizational communities to back-office accounting functions to implementing appointment-making software to submitting food orders through websites, automation has become the way of doing business.
In addition to hardware and software purchases and upgrades, the cloud provided another key component in an enterprise’s digital transformation. Information could now be stored in one secure place and could be accessed by anyone from anywhere at any time. Companies using the cloud discovered the costs are not as great as expected as various cloud infrastructures are available for organizations of all sizes. The cloud has helped to power internal team efficiency and provide easier access to real-time data, as well as facilitating better productivity for more potential profit.
Our Perspective on Financial Reporting Technology
Freed Maxick is in a unique position to offer perspective on what transpired for organizations successful during the pandemic and how companies can function beyond. What we witnessed in this hastened digital transformation has been the modernization of processes whereby accounting and operational systems were enhanced through automation.
MAXIS® by Freed Maxick supported ambitious organizations in creating agile financial reporting systems — integrating software, the cloud, and custom processes. The organizations that upgraded found considerable value in the accuracy and accessibility of information, the ability to allocate talent to more proactive assignments, and the resourcefulness in analyzing real-time performance. MAXIS professionals provided a dependable, unrivaled consistency in internal controls — assuring the proverbial i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.
Though technology created better data and analytics with which to drive decisions, it was the customized and innovative processes that were the real catalysts for change. Through them, efficiency and effectiveness elevated a company’s ability to guide itself to more certainty and creating sustained performance. Leadership could assess the organization’s position at any given time which provided the confidence to forecast, direct, pivot, and attain a desired outcome with more ease. Position and performance were readily benchmarked to inform and advise decision makers on predicting and directing specific outcomes. And roles were less ambiguous with interdepartmental collaboration and communication more synergistic and accountability more absolute.
Modern Financial Reporting: Moving Forward
What doesn’t work for companies seeking stability in operations is when they purchase solutions for what they believe is a “plug and play” implementation. More often than not, they are wildly disappointed when their investment results in the frustration from their front line operators instead of the benefits they were promised by the sales representative. Companies that deploy an “industry leading” tool in their organization are not guaranteed “industry leading” results by the deployment of the technology alone.
The lack of clear roles and responsibilities and the absence of proper training create inconsistent and incomplete reporting. This error can result in exorbitant losses in more than the price of the technology. The loss in time and productivity can put them further behind and create employee morale issues.
With strong training and a clearly defined process, reliable data can be assembled and extracted for a timely picture of the organization’s financial and/or operational health. Organizations that employ this approach will continue to see improved consistency, higher quality data, and more accuracy in their financial reporting.
When technology, people, and processes work in tandem, data-centric decision making enables leaders to achieve business outcomes and apply better measures as to their progress.
The Future Financial Reporting Technology: Not All Rosey
Digital security was increased as technology and cloud providers recognized increases in outside vendors and heightened use created potential vulnerability. We continue to advise that every organization prioritize attention to adding their own measures to mitigate financial and operational risk and to protect employees, customers, and information. Moving into this new year, small and medium-sized businesses are still at a considerably greater risk of impact. Talk with our professionals about the best options for your company.
In a recent article, McKinsey asserts, “Now, more than ever, companies need to ensure that their operations are resilient and that they have the agility to build new businesses and move into new markets at speed." The assertion that successful companies are the ones accelerating to “connect strategy, technology, and operations” is, in our experience, accurate. In maintaining a financial and operational edge, organizations are able to remain their most competitive.
Our next leadership challenge will be to parlay the lessons of the last two years into more consistency in desired results long term. As we emerge from the pandemic, the certainty with which organizations operate will be contingent upon the synergy between a strong tech infrastructure and steadfast processes.
Accounting & Advisory Services from MAXIS
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