CFOs divided on post-Covid resilience

CFOs don’t have a clear plan for where they should focus their investments in 2022, according to a new study from the organization.

Despite an overwhelming consensus that managing business continuity risk has become a much more pressing concern, most are divided over where to build post-pandemic resilience.

The study, conducted this summer among CFOs of 125 organizations with more than 1,000 employees, shows that 99% of them agree that business continuity risks in back office processes have become more of an issue. important since February 2021, with one in five agreeing “completely”.

Likewise, 99% suggested that a more robust approach to mitigating business continuity risks was important to their operations over the next 12 months.

But researchers on behalf of payroll and human resources specialist Zellis found mixed views on what was needed to support that resilience. Nearly half said “reviewing supplier relationships” and seeking “operational efficiency” had required more personal attention since the start of the pandemic.

As the return to normalcy became clearer over the summer, the focus on investing in increasing digitization and improving remote working options were the areas they wanted the more tackle, followed by talent management, cost control and automation.

“While the past 18 months have been about keeping the business out of the water during the pandemic, the coming year will be about how to rebuild and improve operations,” Zellis chief financial officer said. , Alan Kinch. “The problem with CFOs is that after a year of exceptional stress, there are now so many areas of the business that need urgent attention. The board turns to its CFO and asks: which area should we focus on first? “

CFOs are now facing all kinds of new pressures, not only from the board, but also from investors and clients.

While almost everyone surveyed recognized the importance of planning for business continuity risks, only half of them have updated their approach in the past 12 months. A quarter were still developing only new mitigation strategies, while a similar number had made no changes.

Those who had adjusted their strategies in the past 18 months were more likely to suggest that regulatory compliance and reducing inefficiency were their top priorities for the coming months. They were also more likely to see analysis and the need to upgrade their technology as a priority than their counterparts who had made little or no change.

This opens up a significant advantage when businesses seek to avoid disruption resulting from staff changes or talent shortages. Zellis’ previous study, conducted at the start of the pandemic in 2020, showed that nearly half of companies were unsure of their ability to operate if key staff members became incapacitated. Twenty-seven percent surveyed this year admitted they would push for more automation for this reason.

“Finding the right area to focus on at a time when everything can change in the blink of an eye is no easy task,” Kinch said. “CFOs are now facing all kinds of new pressures, not only from the board of directors, but also from investors and clients. This means that in addition to taking care of an organization’s finances, they are now firmly in the “hot seat” to have the right tools and plans in place to eliminate risk.

“Seeking a resiliency-based approach often means improving access to the information, reports and functionality needed to withstand significant changes; the sooner CFOs can master this, the sooner they will see the benefits across their organization. “

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