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Corporate Finance Productivity Technology Webinar

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Corporate Finance Productivity Technology WebinarCloud computing has opened the door to companies of all sizes to improve efficiencies and make better decisions y driving the right data to the right people at the right time. How are companies effectively leveraging the cloud to become best in class in terms of closing the books, order-to-cash management, expense management, multi-company consolidation, financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, and in unlocking the true value of company data? Discover how cloud technology facilitates the proper alignment of people and process  across the enterprise, and learn to define and leverage the value of the Cloud  for Finance at your company.

This Corporate Finance Productivity Technology Webinar video is from the Proformative webinar "Driving Productivity in Finance: Aligning People, Process and Technology in the Cloud" held on August 28, 2012.  The webinar features presentations from Tom Kelly, T-Edwards and Bill Aiken, Abacist Group.


Corporate Finance Productivity Technology Webinar


Tom: Let's get into this and let's talk about how the cloud transforms the role of the CFO. First, we've had the abacus. I used this when I started my career. Give you an idea how old I am.

We've all heard about this, the bean counter, right? Everybody, you go to your meeting and people call you the bean counter. I believe, that's a picture of John in his early days in accounting, I'm not sure.

John: I've got some new outfits since then, but thanks, Tom.

Tom: Excellent, excellent. Leveraging old technology, and I use the screen as an example because it's always been interesting to me that management, or your colleagues, have always wanted you to be able to act, respond, reply, be very nimble in terms of providing information. Yet the technology that you have to use, that old technology, unintegrated whatever, is not truly accessible, ubiquitously, you would say, wherever you are. It's almost impossible to meet that need or live up to that expectation.

Leveraging cloud technology and for those of you who don't know who this is, this is, actually, Ed Harris who played the gentleman by the name of Gene Kranz who was the person in charge of Mission Control at NASA during the Apollo Missions. The reason why I bring that up is for this; what you can do and what I've been able to do, with cloud applications is almost act like NASA and what the CFO can end up doing is you migrate from a person that is providing this historical backward-looking information meaning we've closed the books, it's three weeks later, or shorter or longer, depending upon your situation, and people are off around the next greatest thing.

You go into your meetings. Everybody is complaining about who's date is right, but if you can use a cloud based package that's integrated on all points from beginning to end, from order to cash, if you will, you literally almost have the capabilities of NASA's Mission Control. You know what people are doing, you know how they're doing it. You know when they're doing it and, many cases, you know why they're doing it. It's all about the information.

When you do go to the cloud, your information is real-time. That information is accessible 24/7, 365. With the type of devices that we have today, it's almost accessible across a whole multitude of devices, tablets, smart phones, laptops, notebooks, you name it. That's what the information is all about and, maybe, to quote President Clinton, "Information is." In other words, that's what it is all about, and when he says it all depends on what you define is is.

Well, if you have the information, if you know the information is accurate, everybody's on one set of information so you don't have disparate systems, and that information is wholly accessible regardless of where you are in the world for that matter, that's what it's all about from a CFO from a finance standpoint. If you can accomplish that, you will be able to be world class at what you do, how you support your organization and, most importantly, helping your organization drive to make the right decisions about what they need to do every year, every month, every week, every day, almost every minute if it's to that degree that you need to be at.

Just to talk about my experience and where I've come from is I started using a lot of cloud applications early on, maybe, then they called it ASP, Application Service Providers, which truly is not what the cloud is today, but the first time I did this, meaning taking a company entirely to the cloud, was back in 2007. What was interesting to me is the company was an organization called Cycle and Exercise Equipment.

It had some challenges to say the least. When I embarked on this, I had this theory, and I wanted to prove it, that you could bring a company to the cloud. I thought that that would probably take me 18 to 24 months. The team, believe it or not, we were able to migrate to the cloud, and I mean everything, no servers. We buried a server in the backyard.

We got of the last one. We did it in nine months. When we did it, we thought at first, "Oh, my gosh, this is going to be impossible. They're so much changing going on." What was really interesting to us is a lot of the folks in the organization were, like, "Why did we wait so long to do this? This is so much easier. It's more intuitive." The applications that we chose, and how we did it, and how we put them together, it worked quite well for the organization.

It was proven, did it in less than a year. Maybe it was going to be a one-time thing, not repeatable, but that wasn't the case. One of the things that John mentioned is a lot of the companies that I work with, they have offerings that come out of some world class healthcare institutions. What we ended up doing is there was a portfolio of companies and we put every single one of those companies in the cloud. What was interesting about this experience is these companies were in essence start-up type companies.

You're starting from scratch. You have a technology, you have an idea, whatever it is. Getting those organizations to the cloud was much quicker. We're talking about a couple of months and we're talking about several different applications. What was interesting about this is, you didn't have the legacy of having an on premise system, having used it in the past or several legacy systems. You could actually start from scratch and logically put together, with the right type of strategy, to go into the cloud step-by-step-by-step.

What was interesting is how quickly we were able to do this across many different companies. This is just a handful of them that you see here right now, but there are many more. The thing I'm trying to perfect for everybody here is I'm not just trying to tout the cloud just because it's cool and it's neat or whatever. It's effective. It's efficient. The adoption of the cloud is, obviously, increasing significantly, but for finance folks out there it's going to be very important for you to embrace this cloud or to influence those decision-makers in the organization to really give the cloud serious thought about how you want to run your organization because you could have the best strategy, you could have the best ideas, but unless you have the technology or the infrastructure, whatever you want to term it to carry that message out to make it actionable for people so they can digest it and act upon it, it's going to be dead in the water.

If my second time wasn't enough, I've done this over 25 times now and what's interesting to me is, in many cases, when we do this little organization then they find out that you don't necessarily have to have a finance staff on sight. What we're currently doing, right now, is we manage nine different companies as CFO, CIO and one of my clients calls us EIEIO as an example, because what we're able to do is we have insight into the company every day. Everything is digitized. We don't have to worry about not having access to a particular document because it's all scanned and put into a file cabinet fully accessible. We have the opportunity to look at that.

We leverage other certain technologies so that we interact with people on a daily basis, on a project basis. What's interesting about this is, if we did not have the cloud, myself and my colleagues, my organization, we could not be as effective as we are. I would argue we provide very good information because we holistically understand what's going on with the organization.

Editor's Note: Proformative offers a wide variety of both live and recorded webinars, including but not limited to Lease Accounting Webinar, Order-To-Cash Process Webinar, Rolling Forecasts Webinar, Cloud Based Consolidation Webinar and Revenue Recognition Compliance Webinar.

As you saw from the earlier slides, it's accessible pretty much anywhere, any time of the day, year or whatever, anywhere you are in the world, it's interesting I thought I'd work less with my own company, I think I'm working twice as hard, but it's actually fun because it's very dynamic and very insightful in terms of what information you can get, leveraging various cloud applications.

Schematically, let's think about this. You want to organize your financial and operational data around the processes of your organization. Right? If we're thinking about finance and how we want to do this, from an FP&A standpoint, the budget, how we're going to do this, the revenue planning, workforce planning, all of this other information, you're not going to be that effective if you're doing that in a vacuum, if you're sending out Excel spreadsheets.

You really need to leverage the technologies that are out there, workflow, collaboration. It's a big deal because if you can do that, you're accuracy of what your planning is going to be significantly improved. When we think about the controller in closed management, I alluded to the fact before that it could take you up to three weeks, and I've seen companies that it takes four or five weeks so you're already into the next month.

Some of these situations with the cloud, if you do it right, if you integrate right, you holistically have things connected end-to-end, you can close the books in days or day, in some cases, depending upon the complexity of your organization. Thinking about the CFO, you want to look at the information, you want to understand what the analytics are, but you want to have the information almost pop up to you, dashboard, if you will. Plenty of companies out there do the dashboard, but I'll tell you this, if you have to create something ad hoc, if you have to do things off, off the cuff, it's much less inefficient.

If you can have the key performance indicators available to your CFO, or for that matter anybody running a particular division or department within your company, and have it available at their fingertips, real time, it's pretty profound. You can be much more of a proactive organization than reactive. When you think about the Chief Accounting Officer and disclosure, edgarization [SP] of things, the process by which you put the structure in place, you'd be very surprised at how mirrors what the required . . .

End partial; Corporate Finance Productivity Technology Webinar

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