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CFOs admit major business decisions delayed by lack of timely access to data

CFOs admit major business decisions delayed by lack of timely access to data

This current pace of finance could threaten corporate agility, according to latest global CFO Indicator survey by Adaptive Insights

With shrinking product and innovation cycles—not to mention ever-increasing global competition—these delays can mean the difference between the success or failure of the business

Majority of CFOs (77 per cent) admit major business decisions have been delayed due to stakeholders not having timely access to data.

The decisions impacted are around capital expenditures, resource allocations, and investments, according to the latest CFO Indicator report by cloud performance management provider Adaptive Insights.

The quarterly report was based on the results of an online survey among 271 chief financial officers across the globe in April, says Adaptive Insights.

“With shrinking product and innovation cycles—not to mention ever-increasing global competition—these delays can mean the difference between the success or failure of the business,” according to the report Danger Zone: How the Pace of Finance Threatens Corporate Agility.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of the respondents report it is taking 11-plus days to get reports into the hands of stakeholders, yet they would like it to take no more than five days.

Ad hoc analysis is also taking longer than desired, as 60 per cent of CFOs say this task takes up to five days, and they would like it to take no more than a day.

The report warns that this current pace of finance could threaten corporate agility and provides views on the practices that should be adopted to create a more forward-looking, agile environment.

“Corporate agility requires that organisations plan for multiple outcomes, particularly as economic conditions become increasingly uncertain, turbulent, and competitive,” says Robert. S. Hull, chairman at Adaptive Insights.

“CFOs can improve their organisations’ agility by accelerating the speed of scenario planning and analysis,” says Hull. “By giving key stakeholders more immediate access to data, finance can dramatically improve decision-making—the key to maximising corporate performance.”

Key findings of the report indicate:

  • Finance teams spend over half (53 per cent) of its time on reporting and data gathering alone. This leaves many organisations looking back at history, rather than forecasting forward.
  • CFOs would like their teams to spend less time on report preparation and data collection (36 per cent) and more time on forecasting and scenario analysis (40 per cent). More and better analysis will lead to improved agility.

 The need for speed 

The desire to move toward a more analytics-driven organisation appears to be impacting CFOs’ decisions when it comes to implementing technology, the report states.

Dashboards and analytics top the list of future purchases, with 45 per cent of CFOs saying they will invest in this type of solution by 2020, followed closely by budgeting and forecasting tools (40 per cent). This indicates CFOs desire to move away from historical reporting, and toward a more forward-looking approach.



Discouragingly, it appears that most organisations continue to depend on point solutions that do not provide the integrated access to data that SaaS solutions can provide.


CFOs report that, on average, only 33 per cent of their organisations’ infrastructure is SaaS today with a desire to get to 60 per cent by 2020. This is virtually unchanged from the CFO Indicator survey a year ago.

“While CFOs want to believe they are agile enough for today’s business climate, admitted delays in decision making due to a lack of timely data will not serve them well in an increasingly volatile and uncertain business climate,” the report states.

“They will need to overcome the time deficits that currently exist in reporting and data collection so that more resources can be allocated to valuable analytics.”

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