Business Continuity

What Are the Main CFO Challenges and How Do You Solve Them?

Lara Edwards |

Finance leaders have always felt a heavy responsibility for financial success. Ask one today, and they will likely confess to never feeling more pressure to find ways to improve their business.

They must grapple with some of their biggest business challenges – emerging technology, increasing employee demands and supply chain issues – all while optimizing cash flow and undertaking financial planning for long-term growth.

Despite current economic instability and rising inflation, the focus is not just on reduced costs and survival, it’s on identifying opportunities for success in order to reach business goals. 53% of CFOs want to increase agility to better operate in a turbulent business environment.

What are the main challenges for CFOs?

Before they even try to reach these goals, CFOs and FDs need to overcome five key challenges of:

  • Talent recruitment and retention
  • Supply chain issues
  • Complex employee benefits
  • Improving cash flow
  • Financial forecast and planning

Businesses can improve their financial situation by streamlining their finances whilst building resilience, to ensure they prosper whatever the weather.

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How do you resolve financial challenges?

Key to finance management is digital transformation and the automation of expense, travel and invoice processes. A combination of data integration, advanced data analytics and AI helps build resilience. Gartner predicts that 78% of CFOs will increase or maintain enterprise digital investments through 2023, even if inflation persists.

Let’s look at five of the top business challenges facing the people running the finance team and how finance automation can help tackle them and support long-term success.

1. How do finance leaders overcome talent recruitment and retention challenges?

According to Gartner, up to 81% of the eligible workforce will be hybrid or remote in the future and turnover will be 20% higher moving forward. The flexibility of hybrid working has increased pressure on finance leaders, who need to ensure productivity and satisfaction (not to mention security) doesn’t plummet and that expenses stay on track.

Equipping finance teams with mobile access to spend management platforms such as SAP Concur solutions enables employees to submit their expenses seamlessly and finance teams to process claims faster – both with reduced stress.

Think about those time-consuming, manual finance tasks that heighten stress levels and generate opportunities for errors and fraud – drastically reducing them with finance automation can have a big impact on the level of talent acquisition and retention.

2. How do finance leaders overcome supply chain issues?

The economic turmoil caused by the pandemic has exposed many vulnerabilities in supply chains, including long lead times, material shortages, increasing logistic costs, changing consumer demand and reduced operations due to staff shortages.

By using automated invoice management solutions such as Concur Invoice, which streamlines the accounts payable process for timely supplier payments, finance leaders can evaluate potential supply chain bottlenecks and issues at the press of a button. Businesses realized 11% cost savings through supplier negotiated rates and discounts with SAP Concur solutions in place.1

By using additional reporting tools such as Intelligence and Consultative Intelligence, finance leaders get further transparency and insight into payments, enabling them to maintain better relationships with suppliers and negotiate better early payment discounts and supplier rates.

3. How do finance leaders overcome the complexity of employee benefits?

The management of employee benefits has become more complex coupled with the need to boost employee satisfaction in order to retain key members of staff. Finance teams must navigate the cost of benefits, digital access to benefits, regulatory requirements, government policies, data security issues, employee productivity, rising salaries and tax implications. Staying up to date with the evolving regulatory landscape and ensuring compliance can be a significant challenge.

One way to alleviate some of these stresses is to implement Concur Benefits Assurance by Blue dot. This solution uses innovative AI and ML technology to seek out taxable employee benefits hidden deep within expense reports. Once identified, these benefits are managed according to local regulations, streamlining the process while increasing accuracy and compliance.

4. How do finance leaders overcome the challenges of improving cash flow

Streamlined finances and optimized cash flow is a common reaction to economic uncertainty. By effectively managing expenses, identifying cost-saving opportunities and implementing tighter controls, finance leaders can improve cash flow by reducing cash outflows and increasing profitability.

With an automated expense management platform, such as Concur Expense and Concur Travel, spend data is captured in real time so finance leaders gain visibility into spending patterns, can identify areas where cash outflows occur and take swift action to meet the business’s cash flow objectives.

SAP Concur solutions also help accelerate the approvals and reimbursement cycle, which helps reduce the risk of cash flow bottlenecks within the organization. Automatic notifications of out-of-policy spending can also reduce cash flow leakage.

5. How do finance leaders overcome the challenges of financial planning?

A huge challenge for finance leaders lies in accurately predicting future market conditions, managing uncertainties and ensuring the financial health of the organization.

By turning hidden data into actionable insights, finance leaders gain the tools to drill down into exactly what’s happening across the business, what’s being spent and what needs to change in the future.

SAP Concur solutions integrate with other financial systems for a holistic view of organization-wide spend. This means that CFOs can generate accurate forecasts and project future spend related to employee expenses, which leads to better corporate financial decision making.

It's time for your business to improve its financial situation

There is no doubt that it’s time to make digital investments count. Gartner research shows that 89% of boards agree digital is an implicit part of growth strategy, but 81% report they have not made progress toward or achieved their digital business transformation goals.

Senior finance professionals need to embrace digital transformation to reach their long-term business goals. With finance automation, you’ll create a stronger environment within which to focus on these goals and spend less time fighting the fires that come between you and success.


  • 1Analysys Mason 2022 Travel, Expense, and Vendor Invoice Management Study
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