From financial management into change management

From financial management into change managementJaneka Rauva, CFO of Tallink Silja Oy, stepped into the lift at the headquarters of Tallink Silja Oy on her first day at work and asked for directions to the financial department, none of the three people in the lift could help her.

“This is something that I want to change! The financial department cannot just focus on numbers and hide behind rules and regulations. Accounting is not an end in itself, and reports are not prepared simply for the joy of reporting, although the requirements of the law must, of course, be fulfilled. The information that the financial department handles is so important and essential that everyone in the company should know where to find us.”

Having worked for the shipping company for two years, Rauva is now paving the way towards this goal. The parent company, AS Tallink Grupp, has launched an ERP system project that will introduce new processes to the company in Finland, including its 30-strong financial department. In the process, the CFO has also become a manager of change.

“In addition to automation and system integration, the financial department must, above all, adopt a new attitude. Instead of being passive producers of data, we must become active interpreters of information. We must be able to reach out to the business operations and let them know what information they need at that moment to make good decisions and steer their operations in the right direction,” Rauva explains.

“The problem with big companies and large volumes is that processes tend to include hidden phases that no longer serve a purpose. Changing operating methods can be painful. Many of my colleagues will find themselves faced with this challenge in the near future,” says Rauva.

She discussed the future role of CFOs and the changing competence requirements at the Software Robotics and the Transformation of Knowledge Work event held by OpusCapita and Talouselämä magazine in September.

From the current outlook to forecasting the future

From financial management into change managementRauva confesses with a laugh that she is no technology wizard. She says, however, that CFOs need more technological knowledge, at least to an extent that enables them to understand the limitations and opportunities of data generated by information systems.

“In the end, technology is just a tool that enables CFOs to better support business operations, which has always been their role. If you walk into a management group meeting with analyses of the figures for the month before last, you will not find many people who are interested in engaging in conversation with you. But the situation is entirely different if you tell them that this is what is happening today and that if we take action now, this is what the situation will be tomorrow.”

According to Rauva, the focus of financial reporting will increasingly shift deeper into the future and towards forecasting the future. In addition to financial information, outlooks must be expanded to cover external sources of information. “Automated routines free up time. If we currently only have time to collect all of the required data onto a plate, in the future, we will be able to serve what is on the plate to the right people,” says Rauva.

“The financial department must have an extensive understanding of the company’s business operations. This allows for effective discussions about and support for business development. The figures need to be interpreted proactively: what the company can do, what is possible and how.”

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