How will your finance department be different in 2025?

Claudia Pirko
BlackLine ANZ Regional Vice President Claudia Pirko

By BlackLine ANZ Regional Vice President Claudia Pirko

As digitisation continues to transform economies and businesses, Australian finance departments across the energy and resources sector are set for a shake-up.

Survived the upheavals of 2020 and wondering what else the future can possibly throw at your finance team as a new decade kicks off?

Brace yourself. The business disruption caused by the COVID crisis is only a taster of what’s to come. Over the next few years, there’ll be big changes to the way finance departments operate and energy companies that don’t move with the times will fast find themselves left behind.

Here’s a preview of what the early twenties have in store.

Cloud by default

Cloud technology is no longer new. Australia businesses and organisations have been experimenting with and embracing the as-a-service model for a decade or more. Gartner estimated spending on public cloud services would exceed $8 billion in 2020 and hit $11 billion by 2022. The next five years will see cloud computing become ubiquitous across the enterprise, including in the finance department. For organisations yet to make the switch, cloud accounting is a game changer, courtesy of the fact that information is updated in real time. This gives finance and business leaders extraordinary visibility into business operations and provides them with the up-to-date intelligence they need to make better financial decisions.

Managing money on the move

The smartphone revolution of the early 2010s placed a plethora of sophisticated consumer software applications, aka apps, at the fingertips of every Australian in possession of a smart device–some 92 per cent of us in 2020, according to Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends report. Business software is still catching up and, in five years’ time, it will have well and truly done so. Hence, we’ll see the emergence of the ultra-mobile finance professional who’s able to certify balances, approve journal entries, run reports and make key decisions from anywhere in the world, via their mobile phone.

Automated accounting methodologies as standard

Early adopters already understand the benefits of automated accounting. It does away with the bulk of the repetitive, routine tasks associated with the accounting function. Transactions are processed automatically across the accounting period. This effectively eliminates the end-of-period close and ensures leaders have an up-to-the-minute picture of the organisation’s financial position at all times. In addition, automated accounting is exponentially faster and significantly more accurate than its manual equivalent. By 2025, it will be the unremarkable norm for Australian organisations of all stripes and sizes and finance departments that haven’t adopted it will be at serious operational disadvantage.

Real-time access to business insights

Data drives decision making–the process of making decisions based on facts and hard data rather than observations or gut feel – is a much touted modus operandi and one that’s impossible to adopt without a strong software foundation. Automated accounting software is one of the key building blocks. The other is an integrated data analytics platform that decision makers can use to extract insights to manage risk proactively and help their organisations operate smarter, faster and better. In a few years, there’ll be one in the finance department of every Australian organisation that’s serious about keeping up and competing.

Farewell to the spreadsheet

It’s been a staple of the finance department for four decades or more but, in the digital era, its days are numbered. By 2025, the spreadsheet is likely to have disappeared entirely from the finance department. In its stead, we’ll see visually rich dashboards that are intuitively accessible and easy to use.

Moving towards a smarter future

Accounting is the most traditional of professions but, like all professions, it’s being forced to evolve. A finance department in an energy organisation that embraces digitisation and automation will be well placed to support your organisation through whatever challenges the 2020s throw up.