Back office modernization can take many forms. For many financial executives leading these initiatives, the process is embracing technology to automate processes and digitize data.
But for Express Agreement Financial director Max Broedlow, the goals of digitization extend beyond the back office and can indeed often be anchored in the effort to bridge the gap between the back office and the front.
As the financial manager of an organization designed to optimize back-office workflows for his own corporate clients, Broedlow said there wasn’t necessarily a particular process he was focusing on at the moment. On the contrary, as he told PYMNTS for a Voice of the Digital-First CFO discussion, his organization already has a culture in place to embrace the technology.
This does not mean that his job is finished, however. As he explained, the efforts of a CFO can’t just be digitization for digitization. On the contrary, deploying a strategic method of implementing technology with an eye on using data to fill gaps and overcome silos can achieve a multitude of goals at once, from streamlining payments B2B to arming sales teams with richer information.
Let go of data friction
After working at Agreement Express as CFO for nearly two years, Broedlow noted that the back office has always embraced technology to promote efficiency in a variety of workflows, from client contract to cash flow. through supplier management.
But embracing digital platforms and FinTech solutions alone won’t necessarily lead to optimized workflows. The inability to manage and integrate data can become a major barrier for these tools to deliver the most value.
âIn any new role I’ve taken on, you take a fresh look at processes, systems and people, and assess where the biggest bottlenecks are, where are the inefficiencies? he said. “I hate situations where you have double or triple entries of the same information because from experience it will always introduce the potential for error and problems upstream and downstream.”
This integration is particularly important to Broedlow when it comes to the capacity of key platforms such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Likewise, it is vital that the ERP and CRM themselves are connected in order to offer the greatest visibility to customer services and sales teams.
Using data to link the front office to the back office means driving data integrations not only for the purpose of reducing inefficiencies and automating workflows. It’s also about unlocking valuable information for team members across all departments, whether they’re working with vendors or with customers directly.
âIt’s a driving goal to seek out this utopia of having seamless integration,â Broedlow added, âor at least having the ability to share information between applications.â
Give the example
While the digitization of the back office can have positive effects on the front office, the implications of such efforts extend far beyond the business itself. And with the hurdles to modernization falling as more companies and their employees seize the opportunity to optimize, it is now more possible to have a positive impact both within an organization. organization and its business partners and customers.
In B2B payment workflows, for example, Broedlow said there was much less resistance among vendors to allow sharing of bank account information in order to receive electronic payments.
âI remember examples in the past where a vendor, and maybe a less sophisticated back office, might say, ‘I can’t give you my banking information,’ he said. âThis resistance has completely disappeared. “
It wouldn’t be a jump to say that for many companies, their influence on vendors to embrace their own digitization efforts like accepting electronic payments or electronic invoicing is on the rise. For CFOs leading these changes, it’s important to understand that influence extends far beyond their own finance department. For Broedlow, this also extends to Accord Express’s own business customers.
âThe CFOs of our clients and prospects can be key advocates as our solution seeks to replace the manual underwriting processes of new merchants,â he said, noting that by automating and optimizing onboarding processes for the company’s FinTech clients, there is an opportunity to boost revenue. and lower abandonment rates among their own clients.
For Broedlow, digitizing the back office means optimizing the business as well as leading by example to empower partners and customers to embrace their own modernization efforts.