2017 finance survey results show a need for technology modernization

survey results show a need for technology modernization

In late 2016, Innovation Enterprise conducted a survey of 113 private company C-suite executives and upper-level finance managers in the United States. The survey sought to better understand top strategic priorities, reporting challenges, and software needs for the finance function.

Below is a recap of the survey results. How do your company's priorities for finance compare?

Staying farsighted

Though budgeting and cybersecurity were important areas of concern, survey respondents focused on having long-term vision for their departments. Strategic planning was chosen by 42.5% of respondents as the top priority for 2017. Margins/earnings performance came in second at 30.1%, followed by periodic forecasting at 12.4%.

Executives identified roadblocks to optimal focus on strategic planning: 40.7% of respondents thought that most non-value add time was spent on manual data entry. Another 34.5% said too much time was spent on data collection, particularly during monthly reporting, which was chosen by 40.7% of respondents as the area with the greatest opportunity for improvement.

While business leaders recognized areas for improvement, a lack of budget hinders the necessary steps to attain them. A full 63.7% were planning for no investment in cloud technology to alleviate the problems above. This leaves teams with the responsibility to get creative to overcome reporting challenges.

Tools are the weak link

The most significant impediment in bridging the gap between strategic focus and areas for improvement was an underlying mismatch between the needs of modern business reporting and the technology currently used to create these reports, the survey said. Legacy tools that fail to scale and do not enable collaboration or increase data consistency increased manual efforts. However, more than a third of executives said they actively planned to invest in cloud software and collaborative work management platforms in 2017 to combat these issues.

Bridging the gap

Survey participants acknowledged that additional time gained through improvements would allow teams to analyze data beyond surface level and help management make better strategic decisions for long-term success.

Nearly half of the respondents—44.5%—said that having an additional day a week would let them provide better insights to the business.

Read the full survey to learn more about what finance leaders were focused on at the start of the year. Then see how Wdesk can help your company achieve the time-saving efficiencies that financial executives identified as the greatest need.

Mike Rost

About the author

Mike Rost
Mike Rost is a key contributor to product strategy at Workiva and works with business leaders in the areas of financial reporting and compliance. With more than 25 years of experience assisting organizations using technology to optimize business processes, Mike has an extensive background in finance and accounting, corporate performance management, and GRC technology. Mike was a founding member of XBRL International with involvement in the XBRL initiative dating back to 1999. He has also been active in industry associations, including the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Mike has a bachelor's degree in economics and an M.B.A in marketing and finance from the University of Minnesota.